February is Black History Month, a month to remember essential figures and events within the Black community, as well as how they have contributed to American history.
With last year becoming a prominent year for the Black community with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the continuing fight against systemic racism, we know that the importance of Black history and culture should not only be highlighted for one month out of the year, but every day.
One of the best things to do if you want to educate yourself on Black history is to watch films that talk about these important moments. I’ve compiled a Black History Month watchlist with movies to watch this month (or any day) that anyone can watch, whether you watch your family, with friends or by yourself.
‘The Color of Friendship’
Based on a true story, The Color of Friendship focuses on two girls, Mahree and Piper, as they form a friendship despite coming from different backgrounds.
Mahree, a White girl living in apartheid South Africa, and Piper, the daughter of a Black congressman from Washington, D.C., must learn how to live together as Mahree’s spends a semester abroad for school at Piper’s house.
Throughout the movie, the two of them work through their misconceptions of one another and come together to work through their racial assumptions and learn how to understand each other.
The Color of Friendship is available to watch on Disney+.
Fruitvale Station reigns as one of many movies that focus on police brutality towards the Black community. The 2013 film focuses on the last day of Oscar Grant III’s life, showing every moment and interaction he has, leading up to his death. The real Oscar Grant III died on January 1, 2009 after a BART police officer shot him at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California.
Grant’s death sparked public outrage and protests throughout Oakland and around the United States, as they called for justice and change to take place.
Fruitvale Station is available to watch on Netflix.
The story of Hidden Figures revolves around three African-American mathematicians that worked at NASA: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.
This untold story reveals how these women served as the brains behind the Space Race, a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to see who could achieve a number of firsts in spaceflight capability. As the events take place in 1961, the women must navigate through moments of both segregation and sex discrimination while working as a vital part of the U.S. space program.
Hidden Figures is available to watch on Disney+.
‘Do the Right Thing’
While Do the Right Thing came out during the 1980s, its themes still hold relevance to this day.
The film takes a look at several characters living in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn on the hottest day of summer. One of those characters, Buggin’ Out, confronts Sal, the owner of a local pizzeria, about why he only has White, Italian-American celebrities on his “Wall of Fame.” When Sal says that he can put who he wants up there, Buggin’ Out starts a boycott over the wall, claiming that it’s racist because there are no African-Americans on it.
From there, racial tensions rise and a community must come together to fight against them, especially after they lose one of their own.
Do the Right Thing is available to watch with a premium subscription on Hulu.
‘One Night in Miami’
One Night in Miami is a more recent film, premiering on Christmas Day last year.
This film brings together four prominent figures in Black history: musician Sam Cooke, NFL star Jim Brown, minister and human rights activist Malcolm X, and heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali—still called Cassius Clay at the time.
On February 25, 1964, all four men meet on the night that Clay wins the heavyweight championship title. While the men meeting is purely fictional for the movie’s plot, it highlights how they all discuss the responsibilities each of them have when it comes to being successful black men during the Civil Rights Movement.
One Night in Miami is available to watch on Amazon Prime and in select theaters now.