5 Powerful Films to Watch During Black History Month

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on February 10, 2018.

Name a film about black history. More often than not, it will probably be about slavery.

Some considered 2013 “the year of the slave movie,” given that filmmakers churned out seven films on the topic. In fact, the HuffPost’s Zeba Blay postulated there were more movies about slavery than the modern black experience.

However, black history in the United States is much more complex. As James Baldwin once said, “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”

Here are a handful of films that expand the narrative this Black History Month.

1. “I Am Not Your Negro”

Baldwin was a visionary. The gay novelist and social critic spoke to the black experience, as well as homophobia, throughout his career in the late 1940s through 1980s.

I Am Not Your Negro” sets one of Baldwin’s unfinished words to film, and the results are unforgettable.

2. “Dark Girls”

Traditional beauty standards have relied on white ideals for far too long. ”Dark Girls” explores the global problem of colorism, or discrimination against darker-skinned people.

Anyone interested in empowering women and girls should tune in.

3. “Paris Is Burning”

The model-like dance known as “voguing” started years before Madonna co-opted its moves. “Paris is Burning” follows the reign of the black drag ball scene in 1980s Harlem.

This film offers just a taste of the many vibrant black LGBTQ+ stories in America.

4. “Soul Food Junkies”

Food is at the intersection of race, class and culture. Filmmaker Byron Hurt dives into the history of one quintessentially American cuisine, soul food, and uses it to comment on inequality today.

Your mouth will be watering, and your mind’s wheels turning at the end of this one.

5. “More Than a Month”

Shukree Hassan Tilghman journeyed across the country on a campaign to end Black History Month. This documentary both entertains and provokes you to think about race relations today:

Black History Month, with its stock characters and not-so-subtle message that black people only had history in slavery and civil rights–well, that was problematic, and indicative of a deeper American problem,” he says in the film. “If black people could be thought of as footnotes in American history, what does this say about how we’re viewed in American society?

These films are only a glimpse into the rich history and culture of black Americans. Share your favorites in the comments.

Photo Credit: David Geitgey Sierralupe/Flickr

81 comments

Ben O
Ben O2 months ago

Thank you!

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN hEARFIELD2 months ago

tyfs

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Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

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Patrice Z
Patrice Z2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Shirley S
Shirley S2 months ago

Noted

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Anne M
Anne M2 months ago

Paris is burning,, most definitely watch this one...

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill2 months ago

good choices

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Alea C
Alea C2 months ago

I added Paris is Burning to my Netflix list and will watch it tonight, but I have no access to the other ones.

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Megan K
Megan Kaiser2 months ago

Thanks

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