Black History Month & African American Studies
Discover films exploring the rich histories, cultures, and experiences of African Americans and the global African diaspora.
Aimed at expanding our understanding of the past and enlightening our present, these critically acclaimed films help to accelerate our path towards a more equitable future.
From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an uncompromising celebration of Black culture. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate, and an unsung hero whose voice we need now more than ever.
Mr. Soul! was listed by the The American Library Association (ALA)’s Film and Media Round Table as one of its 12 Outstanding and Notable films for 2022: “a celebration of and an ode to Blackness”.
The Black Power Mixtape examines the evolution of the Black Power Movement in the black community and diaspora from 1967 to 1975. The film combines music, startling 16mm footage (lying undiscovered in the cellar of Swedish Television for 30 years), and contemporary audio interviews from leading African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars.
Powerful Oscar nominated documentary about when fate places people in the wrong place at the wrong time and when fear and suspicion fuel injustice. The once-famous case of the nine Scottsboro Boys is the tale of such a dramatic miscarriage of justice that started in the early 1930s: nine poor young black men, charges of white rape, a fancy New York Jewish defense lawyer, an all-white Alabama jury, sentences of death culminating in a dogged international (Communist inspired) campaign to free the “Scottsboro Boys”.
An intimate account of legendary U.S. Representative John Lewis’ life, legacy and more than 60 years of extraordinary activism. After Lewis petitioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to help integrate a segregated school in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, King sent “the boy from Troy” a round trip bus ticket to meet with him. From that meeting onward, Lewis became one of King’s closest allies. He organized Freedom Rides that left him bloodied or jailed, and stood at the front lines in the historic marches on Washington and Selma. He never lost the spirit of the “boy from Troy” and called on his fellow Americans to get into “good trouble” until his passing on July 17, 2020.
The automobile and the highway brought a promise of adventure, agency and self-expression to African Americans in particular. With powerful feelings, frightening hope and fraught of danger and anxiety, they resonate a still-relevant narrative of freedom, mobility, and race in America.Part One of the educational version of Driving While Black discusses the root of racism in America, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Jim Crow Era, the Great Migration, the birth of the automobile, the myth of mobility in America and the dangers of road travel during segregation.Part Two celebrates Black entrepreneurship, introduces The Green Book, highway construction and its impact, the cruel reality of ‘driving while Black’ in contemporary society and the ongoing struggle for Civil Rights in America.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as an American hero: a bridge-builder, a shrewd political tactician, and a moral leader. Yet throughout his history-altering political career, he was often treated by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies like an enemy of the state. In this virtuosic film, award-winning editor, and director Sam Pollard lays out a detailed account of the FBI surveillance that dogged King’s activism throughout the ’50s and ’60s, fueled by the racist and red-baiting paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover. In crafting a rich archival tapestry, featuring some revelatory restored footage of King, Pollard urges us to remember that true American progress is always hard-won.
On Black Friday 2012, four African-American teenagers stopped at a gas station to buy gum and cigarettes. One of them, Jordan Davis, argued with Michael Dunn, a white man parked beside them, over the volume of music playing in their car. The altercation turned to tragedy when Dunn fired 10 bullets at the unarmed boys, killing Davis almost instantly. The seamlessly constructed, riveting documentary film 3 1⁄2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS explores the danger and subjectivity of Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense laws by weaving Dunn’s trial with a chorus of citizen and pundit opinions, alongside the wrenching experiences of Jordan Davis’ parents.
Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) examines racial, economic and class issues in contemporary American education in this multipart unscripted documentary series. Poignant and funny, epic and intimate, America to Me spends an academic year at Chicagoland’s elite Oak Park and River Forest High School, allowing its students, families, faculty and administration to tell stories of the pressures and challenges teens face in their own words.
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Guitar icon Buddy Guy reflects on his legacy and passes along the blues lessons he himself received from legends Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf to a phenom of the next generation in this stirring documentary.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, the most violent storm in the history of the United States, ravages New Orleans. The city’s entire population is displaced. In the land of opportunity, the disaster seems to provide an opportunity for a city’s rebirth on a fairer basis. But against all expectations and despite the Obama presidency, the Crescent City turns into a ground zero for imposing economic shock therapy, intensifying drastically the economic, social and racial inequalities that existed before. This is the portrait of a city that became the US laboratory and reveals the divisions of a whole country.
ROMEO IS BLEEDING is a documentary film following Donté Clark, a young poet in Richmond, CA, a community that struggles with gun violence stemming from a turf war spanning across multiple generations.
Donté transcends the violence in his hometown by writing poetry about his experiences. Using his voice to inspire those around him, he co-founded an arts organization called RAW Talent, where like-minded youth from both sides of Richmond mount Te’s Harmony, an urban adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, with the hope of starting a meaningful dialogue about violence in the city.
This celebrated documentary tells the dramatic success story of the women’s peace movement of Liberia, where Christian and Muslim women banded together to end their country’s civil war. Leymah Gbowee, the central figure in the film, and the Women of Liberia are the recipients of the 2009 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™.
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice delves into the climate surrounding the courageous 18 African American athletes who carried the weight and hopes of an entire movement on their shoulders as they boarded a ship to Berlin Olympic Games in 1936 – a Nazi propaganda pageant that did not welcome their participation and considered them second class citizens. Their heroic turn at the Games became a seminal precursor to the Civil Rights Movement.
Narrated by executive producer and Hollywood actor Blair Underwood.
CODE exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap, raising the question: What would society gain from having more women and minorities in the tech industry, and how do we get there?
Tech jobs are growing three times faster than our colleges are producing computer science graduates. By 2020, there will be one million unfilled software engineering jobs in the USA.
Why are some children permanently damaged by early adversity while others are able to thrive? To help answer this question, filmmaker Roger Weisberg dug into his extensive film archives to update a few of the stories of the abused and neglected children he filmed decades ago. Viewers are given a unique time-lapse perspective on how the trauma that these children experienced shaped their lives as adults. BROKEN PLACES interweaves these longitudinal narratives with commentary from a few nationally renowned experts in neurobiology and early childhood development in order to illuminate the devastating impact of childhood adversity.