Good Black Movies for Black History Month

Friday, February 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm

To demonstrate that I’m not a total racist hillbilly, I proudly present this list of good black movies for Black History Month. The following films either detail an important time in African-American history (such as the Civil Rights Movement), they’ve had a major impact on black culture and/or filmmaking, or they star Judd Nelson (he’s huge in the ‘hood). Take a look at these movies and watch your street cred shoot through the roof, homeboy. By the way, Netflix has all these DVDs available for rental (and we get a small commission if you sign up).

Malcolm X (1992) – This 202-minute epic tells the life story of Malcolm X, the famous African-American activist. Spike Lee directs and Denzel Washington received an Oscar nomination (which he should’ve won). Perhaps Spike Lee’s defining moment as a director, the film offers a powerful message of equality and redemption.

The Color Purple (1985) – Based on the bestselling novel by Alice Walker, this film was directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey, it shines a light on the various struggles faced by African-American women in the early part of the 20th century. Despite the overwhelming poverty and abuse faced by the main character, it does end on an upbeat note.

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) – Set during the era of Negro League baseball, the comedy stars Billy Dee Williams as a fed-up pitcher who leaves his team and recruit’s a talented line-up of black players to barnstorm across America. Co-starring Richard Pryor and James Earl Jones.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961) – Sidney Poitier headlines an impressive cast in this film about the struggles faced by a poor black family living in Chicago. Racial pride and racial prejudice both play major roles, as does the notion of trying to better oneself by any means possible. Gotta love that Ruby Dee.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) – Melvin Van Peebles wrote, scored, produced and directed this tale of a sexually potent black man’s flight from the corrupt law. Featuring several unsimulated sex scenes, Sweet Sweetback has a way of getting what he wants by using his massive penis. I know that sounds odd, but several scenes involve women helping him in exchange for sex (man, what a wonderful world that must be). A successful independent film, it would influence future generations of black filmmakers and help create the blaxploitation genre that was so popular in the ‘70s. It also gave us Mario Van Peebles, which means Posse wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Juice (1992) – Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps star in this crime drama about the increasingly dangerous struggles faced by four black men in New York City. Cameos include Treach, Fab Five Freddy, Ed Lover and Dr. Dre (the one from Yo! MTV Raps).

Barbershop (2002) – Ice Cuba stars as a barbershop owner who sells his Chicago-based business in favor of pursuing get-rich-quick schemes. But after he thinks it over, he decides he doesn’t want to part with the family business. Problem is, the loan shark (Keith David) he sold it to wants double the money to sell it back. The rest of this comedy follows his efforts to raise the money and keep the cousin of an employee out of prison.

Do the Right Thing (1989) – On a hot summer day in Brooklyn, racial tensions threaten to explode. Spike Lee directs a diverse cast including Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, John Turturro, Ruby Dee, Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez (the latter two in their film debuts).

New Jack City (1991) – Mario Van Peebles made his mark as a director and turned drug dealer Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) into a pop culture icon. As Nino and his crew grow in power due to the popularity of crack, they’re pursued by a relentless pair of detectives (Ice T and powerhouse Judd Nelson). Also starring Chris Rock, Bill Nunn and Allen Payne.

Dolemite (1975) – I don’t know what Dr. King would’ve made of this film, but I sure got a kick out of it. Rudy Ray Moore debuts Dolemite, his legendary urban hero. Released from jail after being framed by two corrupt white cops, Dolemite tries to regain his nightclub from the villainous Willie Green. And we haven’t seen the last of those white cops, either. Plenty of unintentionally funny lines, kung-fu action, and the raw sexual magnetism of the paunchy Dolemite. Followed by the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe sequel, The Human Tornado.

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If you enjoyed this list of good black movies for Black History Month, be sure to check out these links, as well:

This entry was posted on Friday, February 19th, 2010 at 1:08 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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