6 Black History Movies You Haven’t Already Seen

night catches usIt's Black History Month! If you're thinking about films you could watch to commemorate the month, the movie Roots probably comes to mind almost immediately. Or there's also Red Tails, The Help, Amistad, Glory, Do the Right Thing, The Tuskegee Airmen, The Color Purple ... All of these are classics worth watching again and again. But how about a few other films you may not have heard of before -- or at least lately?

Honestly, I almost couldn't finish this post because there are so many amazing films out there that touch on black history in America. But here are a few I love. I think all of these are worth watching any time of the year, so if you don't find time to see them this month, keep them on your Netflix cue!


Night Catches Us. One of my favorite films, period. This movie is about a former Black Black Panther, now a lawyer and single mom. Another former Panther returns from exile and stirs up memories of a more politically idealistic time. What I love about this movie is the way it portrays the complexity of racial politics in America -- from an African-American perspective. It's less about tensions between black & white and more about a black community with complicated loyalties. Kerry Washington is phenomenal. And did I mention Anthony Mackie? Oh my. He's another good reason to see this movie.

Beloved. Based on Toni Morrison's novel, this film imaginatively yet frankly grapples with the horrors of slavery. The film carries the kind of emotional intensity some viewers may find too overwhelming -- but which is all too fitting for the subject. (Yes, this was originally misattributed. 1000 apologies!)

Bamboozled. Spike Lee's scathing satire skewers Hollywood's black stereotypes. A black television executive gets so exasperated, he pitches a minstrel television show as a joke. But the network bites -- and it becomes a hit. Will make you squirm and think.

The Landlord. This is a forgotten Hal Ashby classic from 1970. A rich kid (hilariously young Beau Bridges) from Greenwich Connecticut moves to Brooklyn to renovate a brownstone. But ... there are the tenants. His plans to evict them all get complicated as he develops relationships with them. The film is about the interracial relationships going all wrong -- and sometimes gone right.

Malcolm X. I remember when this movie came out. I grew up in a conservative environment that taught me Malcolm X was a "dangerous radical" who hated America. It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned who Malcolm X really was and what he was trying to do.This bio pic gives the compelling civil rights leader a more complete portrait.

Good Hair. Okay, that's a lot of heavy subject matter. Ready for something a bit on the lighter side? Comedian Chris Rock made a documentary about black hair. He's still serious, of course. He gets into the politics and economics of hair-straightening, for example. But he has a lot of fun with it, too. 

Have you ever seen any of these movies? What's your favorite must-see black history movie?


Image via NightCatchesUs.com

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