Celebrate Black History Month this February by re-visiting some old favorites and discovering some new ones.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
The subtitle, “A Love Story for Today,” was very apt – this movie was the first to frankly address the subject of interracial marriage. Six months leading up to the film’s release, interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 states. Starring the legendary Sidney Poitier, the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Boyz in the Hood (1991)
“1 in 21 American black males will be a victim of murder… Most will be killed by other black males.” This harrowing story of gang violence in LA netted John Singleton an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, making him both the first African American nominee, and the youngest.
Malcolm X (1992)
Spike Lee’s masterful biopic not only portrays the civil rights leader in all his complexity (thanks to an excellent performance by Denzel Washington), it also traces his posthumous influence all the way down to the then-recently released Nelson Mandela.
Black Greek Organizations: The Foundation (2008)
Black fraternities and sororities can trace their history all the way back to the Masonic order. This movie features many of the organizations’ illustrious members: Shaquille O’Neil, Sherryl Underwood, and—in his last recorded interview—Johnnie Cochran.
Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2010)
As a nation we all celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., but many Americans have never even heard of his mentor. Why does Bayard Rustin remain largely unknown? His open homosexuality, for which he had been arrested in the past, made him a target for a host of vicious critics, many of whom came from within the same civil rights and pacifism movements. Rustin never became an iconic public figure, instead choosing to advise others. But what was once the greatest untold story of the civil rights movement has now been told in this award-winning Sundance documentary. Rustin has since been posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Fear of a Black Republican (2012)
What does it mean for the two-party political system when less than 10% of African-Americans identify as Republicans? Why are so many black members of the party still “in the closet” about their political beliefs? This isn’t history—over four years of filming, covering two presidential elections, Fear of a Black Republican shows us the face of the Republican Party as it appears today.