Celebrate Black History Month with Movies


Happy Black History Month! We should celebrate black history all year, but Black History Month can remind us to give some of our attention and respect to events, places, and people that have changed the course of history.


Devil in a Blue Dress

In late 1940s Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins is an unemployed black World War II veteran with few job prospects. At a bar, Easy meets DeWitt Albright, a mysterious white man looking for someone to investigate the disappearance of a missing white woman named Daphne Monet, who he suspects is hiding out in one of the city's black jazz clubs. Strapped for money and facing house payments, Easy takes the job, but soon finds himself in over his head.

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Loving

The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, whose challenge of their anti-miscegenation arrest for their marriage in Virginia led to a legal battle that would end at the US Supreme Court.

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Eve’s Bayou

Summer heats up in rural Louisiana beside Eve’s Bayou, 1962, as the Batiste family tries to survive the secrets they’ve kept and the betrayals they’ve endured.

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Do the Right Thing

Salvatore "Sal" Fragione is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out, becomes upset when he sees that the pizzeria's Wall of Fame exhibits only Italian actors. Buggin' Out believes a pizzeria in a black neighborhood should showcase black actors, but Sal disagrees. The wall becomes a symbol of racism and hate to Buggin' Out and to other people in the neighborhood, and tensions rise.

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Malcolm X

A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his imprisonment in the '50s, he became a Black Muslim and then a leader in the Nation of Islam. His assassination in 1965 left a legacy of self-determination and racial pride.

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Boyz n the Hood

Boyz n the Hood is the popular and successful film and social criticism from John Singleton about the conditions in South Central Los Angeles where teenagers are involved in gun fights and drug dealing on a daily basis.

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Dreamgirls

Three young women dream of becoming pop stars—and get their wish when they're chosen to be backup singers for the legendary James 'Thunder' Early.

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Straight Outta Compton

In 1987, five young men, using brutally honest rhymes and hardcore beats, put their frustration and anger about life in the most dangerous place in America into the most powerful weapon they had: their music. Taking us back to where it all began, Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how these cultural rebels—armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent—stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world’s most dangerous group, N.W.A. And as they spoke the truth that no one had before and exposed life in the hood, their voice ignited a social revolution that is still reverberating today.

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Get Out

Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

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The Great Debaters

The true story of a brilliant but politically radical debate team coach who uses the power of words to transform a group of underdog African-American college students into a historical powerhouse that took on the Harvard elite.

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Selma

"Selma," as in Alabama, the place where segregation in the South was at its worst, leading to a march that ended in violence, forcing a famous statement by President Lyndon B. Johnson that ultimately led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

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12 Years a Slave

In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty as well as unexpected kindnesses Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

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42

The powerful story of Jackie Robinson, the legendary baseball player who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier when he joined the roster of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The film follows the innovative Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey, the MLB executive who first signed Robinson to the minors and then helped to bring him up to the show.

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Fruitvale Station

Oakland, California. Young Afro-American Oscar Grant crosses paths with family members, friends, enemies and strangers before facing his fate on the platform at Fruitvale Station, in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009.

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The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

The story of the Black Panthers is often told in a scatter of repackaged parts, often depicting tragic, mythic accounts of violence and criminal activity; but this is an essential story, vibrant, human; a living and breathing chronicle of a pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America.

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Soundtrack for a Revolution

Tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music - the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality. Features new performances of the freedom songs by top artists; archival footage; and interviews with civil rights foot soldiers and leaders. Freedom songs evolved from slave chants, from the labor movement, and especially from the black church. Music enabled blacks to sing words they could not say, and it was crucial in helping the protesters as they faced down brutal aggression with dignity and non-violence. The infectious energy of the songs swept people up and empowered them to fight for their rights. This film celebrates the vitality of this music.

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The Trials of Muhammad Ali

Brash boxer Cassius Clay burst into the American consciousness in the early 1960s, just ahead of the Civil Rights movement. His transformation into the spiritually enlightened heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is legendary, but this religious awakening also led to a bitter legal battle with the U.S. government after he refused to serve in the Vietnam War. This film reveals the perfect storm of race, religion and politics that shaped one of the most recognizable figures in sports history.

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The Central Park Five

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park. They spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, leading to their convictions being overturned. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, this is the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.

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Dark Girls

Documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color---particularly dark-skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture.

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march on

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sister presents a personal, stirring account of the remarkable day Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech and of the man who went on to inspire nation.

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Digital

Concerning Violence

Concerning Violence is based on newly discovered, powerful archival material documenting the most daring moments in the struggle for liberation in the Third World, accompanied by classic text from The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon.

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Freedom Riders

This is the story of more than four hundred Americans who participated in a bold and dangerous experiment designed to awaken the conscience of a complacent nation. These self-proclaimed, 'Freedom Riders' challenged the mores of a racially segregated society by performing a disarmingly simple act.

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I Am Not Your Negro

Working from the text of James Baldwin’s unfinished final novel, director Raoul Peck creates a meditation on what it means to be Black in the United States.

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Digital

Slavery by Another Name

A documentary that recounts the many ways in which American slavery persisted as a practice many decades after its supposed abolition.

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The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

Professor Gates describes the history of the African American people by talking to historians, authors, and the people who made history.

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Within Our Gates

Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated negro woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished youths.

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COINTELPRO: The FBI’s War on Black America

Through a secret program called the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), there was a concerted effort to subvert the will of the people to avoid the rise "of a Black Messiah" that would mobilize the African-American community into a meaningful political force. This documentary establishes historical perspective on the measures initiated by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI which aimed to discredit black political figures and forces of the late 1960's and early 1970's. Combining declassified documents, interviews, rare footage and exhaustive research, it investigates the government's role in the assassinations of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and Martin Luther King Jr. Were the murders the result of this concerted effort to avoid "a Black Messiah"?

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Moonlight

The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

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