Movies for Black History Month

Black History Month celebrates heritage

While it might not be the history month best known for movies, there are plenty of movies for Black History Month that can help to inspire. Many films out there either highlight the plights that led to a need for an awareness month or are comforting stories showing how far things have come. No matter what type of message you are hoping for in a film, there is certainly the inspiration out there in cinema.

What Makes an Appropriate Movie?

Amongst film critics, there is quite the uproar about what makes a movie appropriate to be considered for Black History Month. Does the film have to tell the story of slavery in order to be a right fit? Does the film need to have a powerful African-American protagonist working as part of a dramatic plot or is a comedy appropriate? Does the film have to have a happy ending or is the dramatic effect of an angry ending more fitting? Whatever your thoughts on these questions, rest assured you aren't the first movie buff to deal with them. Be true to your own cinematic sentiments as well as those of anyone you plan to watch with for maximum effect.

List of Movies for Black History Month

While there may be some confusion among critics as to what is a proper batch of movies for Black History Month, the below are a few standout movies that are likely to fit anyone's criteria:

  • Chameleon Street: Though not a well-known film, this Wendell Harris, Jr. film is the appropriate blend of comedy and drama for the month. The film finds a man frustrated that he never has the money he needs to provide for his family pretending to be a slew of characters from reporter to doctor to keep his life more interesting.
  • Cabin in the Sky: The first attempt by a major motion picture studio to cater to an African American audience, this film is memorable for the Hollywood greats in the film like Lena Horne.
  • The Princess and the Frog: A lighthearted Disney comedy, this is a great film to get children talking about race relations. The film features Disney's first African-American princess and is a great show of how far things have come in the eyes of many.
  • Carmen Jones: In the 1950's, a cast of only African-American characters was only featured in one film: Carmen Jones. The significance of this film removes any negativity one could see related to the movie's plot.
  • A Raisin in the Sun: When an African-American family receives money due to the death of a family member, no one can decide what the family should use the money for. Everyone has a different dream that they have no interest in giving up. The film brings the conversation of the American Dream to the forefront.
  • Malcolm X: There is no denying the power that Denzel Washington brings to this film about the historic civil rights leader. The film chronicles the full life of Malcolm X in a long movie about how dramatic an effect each stage of life can have on a person.
  • Do the Right Thing: A film that many call the ultimate Black History Month movie, Do the Right Thing features a city of race relations on the verge. The film is best known for the presentation of the powerful quotes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. at the end of the film.

A Final Thought

There is no denying the importance of Black History Month. Lucky for movie buffs, there are numerous films out there that can help honor the month of awareness. Even more important, many of these films open a dialogue that allows viewers to get talking about the value of Black History Month, as well as its past. Whether you are trying to talk to a child or a co-worker about the month, each of these films helps to open that door for conversation.

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Movies for Black History Month