February 4, 2021

#DoTheWork – 10 Films to Watch for Black History Month

by joeyphoenix

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For us Black History is American History and #notjustonemonth. Click here the view our expanding list of Anti-Racism, Equity, and Accessibility Resources from our parent organization Creative Collective.

Black Activist Rachel Cargle has been incredibly busy over the last year creating tools for allies – including this 30 day list of prompts, while also stressing the importance of white allies doing their own work to dismantle racism and educate themselves on the salient issues affecting the Black community.

She writes: “To #DoTheWork one must be intentional in breaking down the systems that continue to oppress and disenfranchise the Black community with Black women being the most effected.”

So, with that, here are 10 films to watch to jumpstart your self-guided Anti-Racist education.

They are mix of documentaries, drama, and comedy – because while you’re learning about Black heartbreak, it’s important to also spend time engaging with Black joy.

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

13th (2016)

Where to watch: Netflix

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Where to watch: Hulu

In early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny. Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

Support the Girls (2018)

Where to watch: Hulu

Lisa is the general manager of Double Whammies, a sports bar that features skimpily dressed waitresses. Always nurturing and protective of her staff, she soon faces one trying day that tests her optimism at every turn.

Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story (2018)

Where to watch: Paramount

Across six episodes, this unscripted documentary recounts the life and legacy of Trayvon and includes interviews combined with home videos, family photos, and news footage. It also addresses cultural and societal issues surrounding the tragedy, and it presents an in-depth examination into the investigation, trial, and the not-guilty verdict.

I Am Not Your Negro (2017)

Where to watch: TubiTv

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.

Selma (2014)

Where to watch: Hulu

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

Where to watch: YouTube (Rent)

Navigating through careers, family and romance, four friends bond over the shortcomings in their love lives — namely, the scarcity of good men. Both as the “other woman,” Savannah (Whitney Houston) and Robin (Lela Rochon) carry on relationships with married men, each believing their lovers will leave their wives for them. On the flip side, Bernadine (Angela Bassett) ends up alone when her husband divorces her for his mistress. Meanwhile, Gloria (Loretta Devine) finds love with a new neighbor.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

Where to watch: YouTube (Rent)

For three decades, the film canisters sat undisturbed in a cellar beneath the Swedish National Broadcasting Company. Inside was roll after roll of startlingly fresh and candid 16mm footage shot in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, all of it focused on the anti-war and Black Power movements. When filmmaker Goran Hugo Olsson discovered the footage, he decided he had a responsibility to shepherd this glimpse of history into the world.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Where to watch: Netflix

Though he once spent time in San Quentin, 22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard to live a clean life and support his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and young daughter (Ariana Neal). Flashbacks reveal the last day in Oscar’s life, in which he accompanied his family and friends to San Francisco to watch fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and, on the way back home, became swept up in an altercation with police that ended in tragedy. Based on a true story.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Where to watch: Hulu

Salvatore “Sal” Fragione (Danny Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito), 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.

Finished this list and need more? Check out this compiled by Netflix or this one compiled by Hulu.

Editor’s note: As a white led organization we are here to listen and learn and we welcome feedback. Please send notes, questions, and gentle nudges to joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com

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