5 Powerful Films to Watch During Black History Month

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. 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: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

42 comments

Elaine W
Elaine W16 hours ago

Noted and thanks.

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Hannah K
Hannah K2 days ago

thank you

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Liliana G
Liliana Garcia2 days ago

Thanks for the interesting list. Harping on history is a necessity but shouldn't be at odds with films stressing more recent cultural and social developments.

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Toni W
Toni W3 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W3 days ago

TYFS

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Dot A
Dot A3 days ago

a different suggestion:
Black Panther is a 2018 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Ryan Coogler.
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Not to be confused with The Black Panther (1921 film) or The Black Panther (1977 film).
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Black Panther premiered in Los Angeles on January 29, 2018, and is set to be released in the United States on February 16, 2018, in IMAX and 3D. The film received critical acclaim, with praise for the direction, costume design, action sequences, soundtrack, and performances of the cast, and some calling it one of the best films set in the MCU, noting its cultural impact.

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Mia G
Mia G4 days ago

tyfs

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Carole R
Carole R5 days ago

Thanks for the suggestions.

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Margaret G
Margaret G5 days ago

Wondering which five movies Trump supporter Deborah W. would recommend

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Cathy B
Cathy B5 days ago

All lives matter! Thank you.

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