Netflix debuted the documentary Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy this month. The historical film explains just how devastating the effects of cocaine were during the 1980’s. Award-winning director Stanley Nelson explores how the dangerous drug became an epidemic in itself during the 80’s and how cocaine also evolved into a weapon used against the African-American community by the government and the media.
Nelson is a prominent filmmaker, and was awarded the National Medal of Humanities from President Barack Obama in 2013.
Check out these other insightful movies by Nelson when you’re done watching Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015)
Nelson’s documentary was the first of its kind, telling the full history of the Black Panther party through interviews with surviving members of the Black Panther party (those who still supported the party and those who left it), FBI agents, white supporters and non-supporters of the Black Panther party, and journalists who were there. The film also utilizes archival footage from the era to truly tell the full history of the Black Panther Party and make the viewer feel like they were actually there. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is available to stream on Amazon Prime video with a premium subscription.
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2018)
Nelson utilizes his skills as a storyteller and documentarian once again to examine the historical impact of historically black colleges and universities. You can actually watch the full documentary here, via Independent Lens until February 18th, or on Amazon Prime. Tell Them We Are Rising was co-directed by Nelson and Marco Williams.
Freedom Riders (2010)
This film about activists in the Civil Rights era who fought against racial segregation by sitting together on buses and trains (where transportation was separated into “White” or “Black” sections) was deemed, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically signficant,” by the Library of Congress. As a result, Freedom Riders was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The interesting part is that this action occurred last year, ten years after the film was initially released. Nelson produced, directed, and wrote the script for this documentary, which won three Prime-time Emmy awards. Again, Nelson shines a light on a hard fought era of history that helped advance freedoms that many take for granted today, thanks to the activists of that era, many of whom risked their lives for racial equality and justice in America.
Note the late and great Civil Rights icon and statesman John Lewis in the picture below. Lewis was fighting for equal rights since his early twenties all the way until his passing in 2020.
You can watch Freedom Riders in full here.
The Murder of Emmett Till (2003)
Emmett Till was a young Black boy who was horrifically murdered by two white men after Till had allegedly whistled at a white woman. Till’s mother famously had her son’s casket left open so the world could see what had happened to her son, which in turn inspired many of the major moments of the Civil Rights movement. Nelson’s documentary on Emmett Till includes an interview with Till’s mother shortly before she passed away. You can order The Murder of Emmett Till on Amazon or watch it here if you’re a KLRN Passport member.
Nelson also directed Sweet Honey In The Rock: Raise Your Voice, Wounded Knee, The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords and many more.