My Black History Month TV Show & Movie List

Pariah (2011)

Alike, a 17-year-old girl living in Brooklyn, lives a double life because she has been hiding her sexuality from her overly religious mother and absentee father. She is an aspiring poet who is devoted to her academics, but is struggling to keep up with the façade she puts on for family as she is learning about herself and her sexuality identity.

The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

Jessica is a young black woman who is the embodiment of eccentric and colorful. She is a struggling playwright living in NYC who’s going through a recent breakup and trying to move forward with her life. While dating she finds an unlikely love interest who has her smitten and rethinking some of the things in her life.

Mudbound (2017)

 

Set in 1945 shortly after World War II in rural Mississippi, a time and place where Jim Crow laws were alive and well. The film focuses on the of lives of two families who coexist on the McAllan family’s farmland. Jamie and Ronsel come back home from the war to face the life they left behind.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

22-year-old Oscar Grant was in the process of getting back on his feet to support his family when his life took a turn for the worse. Fruitvale station recounts the days leading up to the night that Oscar Grant was involved in an altercation with police on New Year’s Eve that ultimately ended in tragedy.

She’s Gotta Have It (2017- Present)

Spike’s Lee movie turned TV series is about Nola Darling, a black artist who lives a liberating yet complicated life all while juggling multiple lovers. The series touches many of the current issues that are faced in today’s society especially in the black community.

Fences (2016)

Fences was originally written as a play by playwright, August Wilson in 1985. 30 years later, the  play was transformed into a film that depicted the lives of a black family in Pittsburgh who are battling race, mental illness, infidelity and dysfunction between their relationships.

Dayveon (2017)

Dayveon is struggling to cope with his brother’s death. He spends his days roaming the streets of his rural town in Arkansas. With no real guidance or parental figures in his life, he succumbs to his environment and joins the life of violence.

Insecure (2016- Present)

This series is partially based Issa Rae’s web series, Awkward Black Girl. Issa and Molly are best friends who face their flaws and insecurities head on in a series of uncomfortable situations and encounters. They constantly reflect on their morals and beliefs as they work to overcome hardships in their personal and work lives.

Detroit (2017)

This film goes back in time to 1967 to depict the events that occurred in the Algiers Motel in Detroit, Michigan. During that time, there had been numerous riots in Detroit that had vandalized the city so as a result the city was heavily patrolled especially at night. Two friends decide to stay at a motel for the night instead of attempting to make their way home through the heavily patrolled city. Their night goes awry when they’re hanging out with two white women at the motel and a gun goes off. The film depicts the hours the people in the motel spent being interrogated and beaten by the police for a confession.

13th (2016)

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay takes an in depth look into the history of racial inequality in the United Stated by focusing on the nation’s prisons that are disproportionately filled with African Americans.

12 Years a Slave (2013) 

 

Solomon Northup is a free black man from upstate New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south. Northup endures the cruelty of slavery at the hands of his malicious owner, but also finds kindness as he struggles to maintain his dignity as a slave who was once a free man. His life changes forever during the 12th year when he encounters an abolitionist from Canada.

Selma (2014)

 

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act legally desegregated the South. However, despite the Civil Rights Act many black people still faced discrimination in certain areas, which made it difficult for black people to register to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers embarked on an historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. King and his followers’ effort ultimately led to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Loving (2016)

Loving tells the story of interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving who went up against the Supreme Court in 1967. The two fell in love and married in 1958. They spent most of their lives in Central Point, which is a small town in Virginia. However, in the state of Virginia their interracial marriage was considered illegal and ultimately led to their incarceration at one point. The Loving family temporarily relocates in Washington, D.C., but ultimately tries to find their way back to their hometown. The couple’s strife led to the Supreme Court’s decision of invalidating the prohibition of interracial marriage in the state of Virginia.

Black-ish (2014-Present)

Dre Johnson seems to have it all as he has a great job, a beautiful wife, four kids and a big home in a nice neighborhood, but he starts to questions whether his success as a black man has created some distance between himself and black culture. Dre makes it his mission to create a sense of ethnic identity for his family members that will allow them to honor and acknowledge their identity as black people

Imitation of Life (1959) 

 

Lora Meredith is a single white mother who by chance encounters Annie Johnson, a black widow. Annie eventually becomes the caretaker for Lora’s daughter, Suzie while Lora pursues her dream of being on Broadway. Lora and Annie both face the difficulties of single motherhood. Lora struggles to maintain a relationship with Suzie as she strives for her Broadway career while Annie’s fair skinned daughter struggles with her black identity.

Moonlight (2016)

 

The film is told in three parts that shows Chiron’s life as a youth, an adolescent and as a young adult. Chiron spends most of his life growing up in Liberty City, Miami. Throughout his life, he faces many hardships such as, depression, struggling with his sexual identity all while trying to live with his mother as she battles her drug addiction.

The Butler (2013)

After leaving the South, Cecil Gaines is given the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired as a butler at the White House. Throughout his thirty years as a butler, Cecil has been able to see history and the inner workings of the Oval Office unfold firsthand during historical events like the Civil Rights Movement. However, his commitment to the first family leads to complications with his family at home which ultimately puts a strain on the relationship he has with his wife and son.

Southside with You (2016)


In 1989, former President Barack Obama was a law student working as a summer associate at law firm in Chicago. Obama tries to win the heart of Michelle Robinson, a young lawyer and his supervisor at the law firm.

Queen Sugar (2016- Present)

Estranged Bordelon siblings, Nova, Charley and Ralph Angel must come together in Louisiana to make decisions in regards to their father’s sugar cane farm after his death. Nova is a journalist and an activist; Charley is the wife and manager of an NBA player while Ralph Angel who was recently released from jail is trying to get his life together for his son. The three siblings who live completely different lives and have experienced different things throughout their lives must put their differences aside for the betterment of their family’s legacy.

Dear White People (2014)

A campus culture war between black students and white students at a predominantly white school arises when the staff of a humor magazine stages an offensive Halloween party where many of the white students in attendance were in blackface. The film explores racial identity from the viewpoint of four black students attending a predominantly white school.

Celia (2015)

Celia tells the story of Afro-Latina music legend, Celia Cruz. The telenovela highlights the beginning of Cruz’s career where she developed her passion for singing in the 1950s along with her recognition as being the most pivotal singer of La Sonora Matancera. It shows how throughout the years, Celia Cruz was able to leave Cuba and conquer Latin music which led to her being one of the most recognized Salsa singers.

How to Get Away with Murder (2014)

Annalise Keating is a brilliant professor of defense law and teaches a course called How to Get Away with Murder. Keating is also a criminal defense attorney. She handpicks a group of students that she considers to be the best and the brightest. The group that handpicks assists her with her cases alongside her employees, Frank and Bonnie. Life changing situations arise that reveal dark secrets and will ultimately test the students’ wit and loyalty.

Chewing Gum (2015)

This British series follows the everyday shenanigans of Tracey Gordon. Tracey is a religious, Beyoncé-obsessed 24-year-old whose unusual and naïve outlook on life always gets her into trouble, but she seems to learn a little about the way the world works as time goes on.

Atlanta (2016)

Up and coming rapper, Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles is trying to find middle ground with street life and real life while developing his rap career. His cousin, Earn has returned to Atlanta and is now his manager. Earn devotes most of his time to getting his cousin’s rap career to the next level. Alfred spends most his time with his right hand man, Darius. When Earn isn’t busy managing his cousin he’s preoccupied with his daughter and his complicated with relationship with her mother, Vanessa who is also his best friend.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story (2017)

 

At just 16 years old, Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers Island awaiting trial. Browder spent two of those three years in solitary confinement. He was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. The case was never prosecuted and the charges were ultimately dropped. In 2015, Kalief Browder committed suicide two years after his release from jail. The six-part series delves into Browder’s life through first person accounts, archival footage and recreations of key points in his life. The series also includes a wide range of people who are connected to his story.

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

In this documentary, Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished back in 1987. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project that would go unfinished. Baldwin started a book called “Remember This House.” The book was set to be revolutionary and historical. In it he would recall his personal accounts of the lives and ultimately the assassinations of three of his close friends who were Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Daughters of the Dust (1991)

 

Set in 1902, a family of former West African slaves living in the Gullah community of the coastal South Carolina suffers a generational split. The film is narrated by the unborn daughter of Eli and Eula who tells the stories of her ancestors who strive to maintain their family’s legacy and culture in the Gullah community while some want to move onto the mainland for a modern way of life.

 

Movie Review: Mudbound 

Mudbound scene

Last week, Mudbound premiered in select theaters and streamed on Netflix.

Mudbound is a period drama film directed by Dee Rees and is based on the 2008 novel of the same name. The film features stars like Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund.

Mudbound is set in 1945 shortly after World War II in rural Mississippi, a time and place where Jim Crow laws were alive and well. The film focuses on the of lives of two families who coexist on the McAllan family’s farmland.

The Jackson’s are a family of sharecroppers who unwillingly welcome the incoming McAllan family members that moved to Mississippi to start a new life. The Jacksons are a family of sharecroppers who struggle to maintain the land they have along with other racial and societal barriers they must deal with. Florence (Mary J. Blige) and Hap (Rob Morgan) Jackson do the best with what little they have so they can raise their children and protect them from the evils of the world. Their eldest son, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) sets off to Europe to fight in WWI. Ronsel sees a side of the world that is unlike anything at home. The way of life and the way black people are received in Europe baffled him which he expressed in his letters that he wrote to his family back in Mississippi.

Then, there is the McAllan family who have come from their Memphis home with the intent to turn the McAllan land into a farm again. Henry (Jason Clarke) drives down with his openly racist father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks), wife, Laura (Carey Mulligan), and their daughters. The land the McAllan’s own is also the same land that the Jackson family sharecrop a portion of.

Two soldiers return to the Mississippi town after fighting in the war. Jamie McAllan returns home to his family as hero who is battling PTSD. Ronsel comes back home a hero like Jamie McAllan, but with less recognition and more racism. An unlikely friendship forms between the soldiers who come from two completely different backgrounds, but share the same mental struggles that the war inflicted upon them. Their friendship isn’t well received by the racists in the town who force Jamie to make a life changing decision in effort to severe their friendship.

Mudbound was heart wrenching and captivating. It touched on the realities of the black war heroes who explored the world and saw what it had to offer besides blatant racism. Moreover, I think that the film embodied the struggles that many black people faced while living in the south. There was scene where Ronsel had just come back home with all of his honorary badges on and was shopping in a local store for his family. As he went to head out the front door, he encountered Pappy McAllan who demanded that he leave out the backdoor and called him a nigger. The sacrifices black people had to make in order to save their lives and stroke the egos of the racist whites is unmeasurable. The McAllans were generally “tolerable” of black people, but they were unnecessarily inconsiderate when it came to the requests that they made of them. Henry requested that Florence come help his sick children in the wee hours of the night and then his wife, Laura asked that she permanently stay to help with the children with no regard to her own family and household. The actors did a great job especially Mary J. Blige she blew me away. I really enjoyed this movie and can’t wait to see what else Dee Rees has in store for the film industry.

Movie Review: The Incredible Jessica James

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I’m really starting to appreciate Netflix’s original series and movies more. One of my most recent favorites is The Incredible Jessica James (2017). The film stars Jessica Williams, Lakeith Stanfield and Chris O’Dowd.

The film is about Jessica, a young black woman who is the embodiment of eccentric and colorful. Jessica is a struggling playwright living in NYC . She’s going through a recent breakup and trying to navigate through life. While dating she finds an unlikely love interest who has her smitten and rethinking some of the things in her life.

I feel like this particular film is something that was much needed because it focused on the life of an artistic, black woman rather than the typical movie about the quirky white girl next door. Another thing that I like about the movie is that it was realistic. Jessica didn’t have a ton of friends, she was awkward and funny instead of being portrayed as a hyper sexualized woman who couldn’t get her life together. It also focused on the struggle of getting over an ex and eventually making amends which I like because people shouldn’t have to feel so toxic and torn after a breakup.

Despite the good things, I did not like that Jessica’s love interest which was a white collar white man who just came into her life via a blind date that her friend sent her on. He miraculously swept her off her feet like she was damsel in distress and he was her knight in shining armor. In the movie industry, it’s so cliche to have a black woman play a conflicted character who is trying to figure it all out with the help of her white friend who makes snarky comments or she has a white love interest who is coming into her life as a savior to give her clarity and solutions to all her problems.

The movie was really dope despite the white savior aspect. Jessica James was living her best life not knowing what was next for her or what was the right way to cope after a break up. I was happy to see a black girl be at the forefront of a film all about her and her life.