Eight movies to watch during Black History Month

Text states: Black History Month. Eight movies to watch during Black History Month. Zoë Alexandra King. CREDIT: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT.

There are many ways in which students can honour Black History Month (BHM). This could include supporting Black owned businesses, attending BHM events, visiting museums or exhibits, cooking meals related to Black culture, and much more. One way that students can celebrate without leaving their home is by watching a film to increase the awareness of Black history.

1. BLACK PANTHER (2018)

This fictional Marvel movie that brought immense awareness to the world in 2018 has a background of being one of the first Black comic books in the US. Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa, who becomes the newly crowned king to his hometown, Wakanda. Navigating this role after his father dies has its challenges for T’Challa when it came to becoming the Black Panther. The mission of this movie as well as the comics associated with it, was to introduce Black characters into the world with its 1960s Civil Rights Movement setting. The focal point of the film includes the dangerous threat towards Wakanda and the rest of the world. Watch to find out what forces the Black Panther puts into place to protect his people.

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2. THE ROSA PARKS STORY (2002)

This early-2000s film features the famous Rosa Parks, who made history in America during segregation in 1955. Rosa Parks, who is played by actress Angela Bassett, refused to give up her seat in the bus for a white passenger during a pivotal time in the world when there was a Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Prior to this moment, Parks faced a series of racism and was also a secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). The US has honoured Rosa Parks as “the First Lady of Civil Rights” and “the mother of freedom movement,” since she broke history and became an American Activist during the Civil Rights Movement.

3. 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013)

Based on a true story comes this movie directed by Steve McQueen, who puts the spotlight on a free African American man named Solomon Northup. He lived in New York with his family and was an excellent violin player. At least that was the way it was until he was “deceived, kidnapped, and sold into slavery.” After 12 years of enduring the hardships that came from slavery, moving through the plantations of the South, Solomon encounters a Canadian abolitionist who plays a fundamental role in Solomon’s life.

4. THE COLOUR PURPLE (1985 & 2023)

The Colour Purple, which was recently remade, features an African American Woman named Celie who faced struggles being torn apart from her sister and her children. Celie, who also experienced an abusive husband, embarks on a transformative journey towards self-discovery and empowerment. This movie, set in the South during the 20th century includes acts of racism, sexism, and the profound love of sisterhood.

5. DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN (2005)

This Tyler Perry movie is based on the lead character Helen, whose husband kicks her out of their family home. Through the challenges that Helen faces, one of her family members, Madea, brings her comical humour to life in this film. Helen was used to living the life of luxury that her husband provided for her. Imagine her surprise when she begins to fall in love with someone who can’t offer her that. The plot twist of the story unveils when her ex-husband winds up in a wheelchair and needs Helen’s help.

6. IMITATION OF LIFE (1959)

This film, directed by Douglas Sirk, features two women who share a complex friendship coming from two different races. Annie, who is an African American housekeeper for Lora, an aspiring actress, finds it difficult to navigate their friendship and in addition the challenges that come with motherhood. Struggles to come to terms with identity due to race are found throughout this film as well as themes of sacrifice. Actresses Lana Turner (Lora) and Juanita Moore (Annie) took this two-hour movie to the screens in 1959.

7. MANDINGO (1975)

A film that was based off the novel, Mandingo by Kyle Onstott, took screen watchers to a historical time in the Antebellum South. This story is about a slave owner who forces his son to marry a white woman who was a part of their family. The issue wasn’t so much that he was marrying inside of his family as this was a normal practice in the South. The issue was that the son was well-known for sleeping with the female slaves that belonged to the plantation his father owned. According to research, the name Mandingo described people from Mandinka, and were “good slaves for fighting matches.”

8. DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)

Directed by Spike Lee, this film is well-known as a comedy-drama that focuses on an Italian pizzeria located in Brooklyn. This late 1900s film showcases a mix of races inclusive of African American individuals. The plot of the film revolves around the pizzeria being in a Black neighbourhood but doesn’t have any representation of Black people. This is mostly highlighted on a wall in the restaurant that only has Italian actors on it. The wall is seen to many as a form of racism to many people in the neighborhood, and especially to a character named Buggin Out.

These eight films all demonstrate a form of history that African American people endured. Diving into a time where the world looked very different, films are a way to educate yourself about the history of Black people. Watch any one of these eight films to honour and celebrate Black History Month this year.