Culture | February 26th, 2024

7 Movies to Watch Before Black History Month Ends

By: Jared Melhado
7 Movies to Watch Before Black History Month Ends

In the United States, Black History Month rolls around every year to be celebrated for the entire month of February. The premise of Black History Month was to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and impact of African Americans throughout their history in the United States. Black History Month, which was originally titled as “Negro History Week,” was introduced in 1926. 

According to History Engine, African Americans were not on the screens until the early 1900s. In 1903, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the first Black actor appeared on the screens. Although, the majority of the roles were limited to being cast as the “Tom,” “coon,” “buck,” “Sammie,” or “Mulatto” of the story. 

African Americans were seen more in films after World War II. Near the 1950s, Black actors started being recognized and acknowledged. In the 70s, films that shared and discussed the emotions of African Americans felt after decades of battling discrimination, racism, and inequality were called the “Blaxploitation films.” In an article from ASU News, Black actors consume 12.9 of leading roles on television today. 

It was to be hosted and recognized during the second week of February to align with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who were seen as critical individuals in the emancipation of the enslaved and the advancement of the civil rights movement. Considering that Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) are significant in African American History, here are seven HBCU student’s picks for must-watch Black History Month movies. 

1] Hidden Figures (2017) 

Jeylan McGhee, a third-year agribusiness major, shared a must-watch Black History movie and why it is significant to her. 

“It was a big moment in history, and to know that it was Black women behind that, people wouldn’t know; it was not highlighted in American History. Being a Black woman, it means that, what we do is worth more than what other people may think. I feel like our achievements aren’t highlighted, and the movie really highlights them for us,” McGhee said. 

2] 12 Years a Slave (2013) 

First-year pre-physical therapy major Justus Williams recommends 12 Years a Slave and shares how the film impacted him. 

“12 Years a Slave. [It’s] probably the first movie I’ve watched that opened my eyes as a young man, to what we [were] going through and went through,” Williams said. 

3] Ruby Bridges (1998) 

Kennedi Taylor, a biology pre-dental major, shared her opinions on the portrayal of Black people in cinema and a must-watch for Black History Month. Taylor also mentioned how the movies often show street life, drugs, and struggles within the Black community, but mentioned the Ruby Bridges movie and the success story of a Black woman.  

“The Ruby Bridges movie is kind of rough, but you see the first little Black girl going to an integrated school in her city,” Taylor said. “What she had to endure, just so we could go to colleges and universities and get into higher learning,” Taylor added.  

4] The Color Purple (1985) 

Charmel Humphrey, a third-year biology pre-med major, went over the significance of this film.  

“The Color Purple [has] a lot of symbolic things pertaining to generation curses, our community, [and] not talking about some things we find taboo. It touches on everything people need to be aware about,” Humphrey said. 

Over time, Negro History Week gained popularity and the attention of the people in the United States, and during the civil rights movement, the week-long observance turned into a month-long celebration. Black History Month was officially recognized in 1976. Present-day Black History Month showcases the rich culture, community, and perseverance of the African American people but also serves as a reminder of the heritage, growth, and impact of those who came before us.   

5] The Banker (2020) 

Cush Chakari, a fourth-year economics student, mentioned wanting to get into the banking industry and shared his opinion on a must-watch movie during Black History Month.  

“I don’t want to spoil it, but it was based on the business side of segregation and how they were trying to open up a banking industry. This could probably [be] like a blueprint of lessons you can take from them, so you can start your own type of industry, for the community, and do well,” Chakari said.  

6] Juice (1992) 

Tyrese Gilmore, a first-year pre-nursing student, mentioned his pick of HBCU students to watch during Black History Month and its relevance.  

“I like Juice, you can look at it as the Jesus story, in a way. You [have] betrayal, people trying to come up as a group, and it shows the unity that Black people can have. At the same time, it keeps it real, and shows you that there’s still greed that exists,” Gilmore said. 

7] Queen & Slim (2019) 

First-year doctorate of pharmacy candidate Jordyn Famimiko discussed the significance of Black History Month and reminisced about one of her favorite movies.  

“Black History Month is celebratory as well as commemorative. We think about the past, but also the current, and the future. Queen & Slim, although it’s a pretty sad movie, I think it’s really artistically made, and it tells more of a unique perspective of the Black condition versus the same old things,” Famimiko said.  

Black History Month and African American tradition, culture, and intelligence are preserved and retained in the minds of people worldwide via education, awareness, and remembrance. Black history should be: (1) recognized for more than just the hardships that African Americans faced; (2) remembered for more than just a month; and (3) welcomed and honored as a chance to highlight the community’s rich legacy, inventiveness, and cultural diversity.  

Every minute, every second, and every instant of our lives is filled with Black history that has yet to be written. But rather than limiting themselves to the big screen, African Americans should be given more room in all industries.