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Five Essential Films To Watch This Black History Month

Five Essential Films To Watch This Black History Month

Films are a great way for people to educate themselves and learn more about the rich history of Black and African-American people. 

Black filmmakers and artists have created some powerful, informative, and deeply meaningful films celebrating Black history. Below, you will find 5 films that should be wholeheartedly recommended and seen by everyone.

Selma

selma filmAvaDuvernay’s moving and informative account of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March is one of the most mainstream, yet well-made films about the Civil Rights Movement.

Starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the film received an Oscar for Best Original Song and a nomination for Best Picture in 2014. “Selma” is an essential look at one of the most crucial moments in the Civil Rights Movement.

 

 

 

hidden figures filmHidden Figures

A more uplifting story for this list is Theodore Melfi’s “Hidden Figures,” starring  Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae as NASA scientists critical to  the Space Race of the 1960s.  “Hidden Figures” depicts how these three women challenge racism, sexism, and general prejudice to make outstanding contributions to the sciences.   The film is a must-watch for those interested  in the incredible contributions of Black Americans that have often been whitewashed from history.

the death and life of marsha p. johnson filmThe Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Though the contributions of Black people to movements for racial equality are usually recognized, however, their work towards the fight for LGBT equality have often been ignored. Marsha P. Johnson is one such legendary figure in the Queer community whose name is not mentioned enough. A prominent Black Trans activist, Johnson was a major participant in the Stonewall Uprising and dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of people like her. The Netflix documentary examines her remarkable life as well as the tragic and suspicious nature of her death, which  was ruled a suicide.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

mandela long walk to freedom film

As a South African, there may be some personal bias in including this film on the list.  Regardless, Nelson Mandela’s story is one that deserves to be known by everyone. After dedicating his life to fight the cruelty of Apartheid in South Africa, Mandela endured 27 long years in prison. Mandela was only  released at the end of Apartheid.  He united the country in a time of great turmoil and significantly contributed to the fight against racism. Idris Elba gives an emotional and deeply impactful performance as Mandela in a solid biopic that people everywhere should see.

 

red tails film

Red Tails

Cinema has often ignored the contributions of Black people to war efforts.

Iconic war films like Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, or Platoon contain barely any reference to black soldiers if at all. Red Tails, released in 2012, aims to correct that by portraying the heroic efforts of the Tuskegee airmen in World War 2 in Europe. Despite not being entirely historically accurate, Red Tails is a thrilling and interesting popcorn movie that puts Black heros. at its center.  While the events portrayed in the film may not be completely accurate, the Tuskegee airmen were real people and real heroes that deserve to have their stories enshrined in cinema.