February is Black History Month. It was created to highlight the unique contributions by Black Americans to our society and culture and to celebrate the achievements of African Americans. Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The Black History Month 2023 theme, “Black Resistance” explores how “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings,” since the nation’s earliest days.
Although February is designated as Black History Month, celebrating the culture, history, and unmatched contributions of Black people in this country is something that can be done all year round. One simple way to do that is by watching Black history movies that center around the Black experience. Whether you are seeking a deeper exploration of your own history, are looking to educate yourself and view stories through a Black lens, or simply want to unwind with a good movie, these movies are worth checking out.
The Hate U Give
“The Hate U Give” tackles the topic of police brutality in the United States. The Black community is disproportionately the target of police violence in America. Although “The Hate U Give” tells a fictional story, the film looks into the very real consequences of state-sanctioned violence. The main character resists oppression by fighting back and seeking justice when her friend is brutally murdered by police officers.
“Just Mercy,” based on the true story of Walter McMillian’s wrongful murder conviction, invites the audience to examine the U.S. legal system. Starring Michael B. Jordan, “Just Mercy” addresses how systemic racism impacts the lives of modern-day Black Americans. McMillian’s story of wrongful conviction is one of many. Dozens of Black people across the country are wrongfully imprisoned, and many of them will never be exonerated. By telling one man’s personal account, the film addresses a systemic injustice that has disproportionately impacted the lives of generations of Black people.
12 Years A Slave
This raw, moving film tells the story of Solomon Northup, a brilliant violinist and loving family man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery despite his free status. Based on Northup’s real memoir of the same name,12 Years a Slave is powerful and articulate in its recounting of life as a slave during the 1800s. Powerful performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o immerse audiences into a setting that is both anguished and fueled by hope and justice.
Some of NASA’s most innovative mathematicians were women of color, and Hidden Figures brings recognition to their groundbreaking work. The movie follows Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, three brilliant analysts who face workplace discrimination for their sex and race. Despite numerous attempts to stifle them, the three women go on to become indispensable members of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), ultimately gaining well-deserved respect in the industry.
A periodical tale that takes place in 1950s Pittsburgh, Fences weaves a narrative of love, loss and trying to make the right decisions in a world that is constantly against you. Protagonist Troy was an incredible baseball player that faced prejudice in the form of ‘color barriers’ in the NBL. As he struggles to deal with racism and give his family the life they deserve, he attempts to stop his son Cory from becoming an athlete, fearing that he will face the same barriers in his career.
Tolani is a sophomore at IU studying Economics with a minor in Business. This is her third semester working in the Media Services library.