Black History Month is here and while the month is short and will be over before you know it, it’s a month where African-Americans of times past and present are honored for their sacrifices, achievements and accomplishments marked throughout history. It’s a time for us to reflect on that rich history and celebrate the lives of the ones lost and present whom paved the way for generations of other African Americans to walk in freedom and while this movement is still a “work in progress” for the most part, we’re proud that they stood fearlessly in the face of adversity to make sure we have some of the luxuries we have today such as the right to vote.
One way to honor and look back on African-American culture, history, activists and the actors that played them or played parts representing such troubling times is by way of a movie. I personally love watching movies, especially the ones that portray the African-American men and women whom did so much for us. So, if you just happen to have a down day this month and want to celebrate the occasion, listed below are 10 Classic movies portrayed by African-Americans that you should watch in honor of Black History Month. In no particular order they are:
What better way to celebrate black history and the life of late-great music legend Prince. The musical drama features some of Prince’s most iconic songs and killer outfits.
‘Malcolm X’ is was Spike Lee classic, portrayed by Denzel Washington. The movie chronicled the life of the civil rights hero.
Ava DuVernay made history with ‘Selma’ in 2014, becoming the first black woman to have her film nominated for “Best Picture” at the Oscars. ‘Selma’ is a portrait piece of Dr. Martin Luther King as he led the march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.
Free black men were conscripted to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War, but as this 1989 period drama shows, not even their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their country was enough to shield them from racism and segregation. Denzel Washington stars in the role that would nab him his first Oscar.
‘Barry’ is one of two drama films (of what will surely be many) that take a glimpse at the life of a younger former President Barack Obama, the man who would one day become the first black president of the United States.
‘The Princess & the Frog’
In 2009, Disney made history by featuring its first ever African-American princess. Anika Noni-Rose portrayed princess Tiana in this film. It’s a beautiful film in which is sure to inspire little girls of all diverse backgrounds that she too can be “A Princess”
‘The Color Purple’
Okay, so there’s really nothing to say about this one but – CLASSIC!!! – No matter how many times I’ve seen this movie – I always need my tissues….
‘The Wiz’ in which stars Diana Ross and a very young Michael Jackson is the black version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ story.
Dorothy Dandridge became the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress award at the 1954 Oscars for her role in this epic musical, based on Bizet’s tragic opera ‘Carmen.’
‘A Raisin in the Sun’
Starring Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier, this 1961 adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry‘s play is a film about an African-American family search for the American Dream and what happens when that dream is derailed. While the older version is a true classic, the newer 2008 version in which stars Sean Combs (a.k.a P. Diddy), Sanaa Lathan, Audra McDonald & Phylicia Rashad are performances in which you wouldn’t want to miss.
These movies are sure to give you a dose of the richness of the African-American culture and a sense of why we should celebrate this month each year. We’re not just celebrating the culture but we’re acknowledging the people whom broke barriers in every arena which makes us glad to be a part of such an amazing history. You can find other classics listed here. Did your favorite make the list? If not, then what African American movie(s) are your favorite classics? Let me know in the comments.
Roshonda N. Blackmon – Creator of A Blog, A Magazine. It’s JustsumInspiration, Author, Speaker & Encourager