Black Americans deserve honor and respect for the amazingly resilient cultures they have developed; for the survival skills they have marshaled in the face of slavery, injustice, and persecution; for the spiritual resources they have sustained; and for keeping their souls alive in tough times.
We have chosen films about the Black American experience reviewed from our spiritual perspective as one of the many ways to celebrate Black History Month in February.
Some of the films focus on historical figures such as Paul Robeson, the renowned singer; Malcolm X, activist for justice; Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice; and Ernie Davis, the first Black football player to win the Heisman Trophy.
The movies range freely across time from the days when freedom was seen as the Holy Grail to the contemporary scene in a riveting documentary of courageous warriors for peace on Chicago's violent streets.
Here you will find inspiring stories about the lifelines of community, friendship, and mentoring. You can cheer Miss Jane Pittman on as she marches for civil rights and weep as you watch Ruby Bridges, a first-grader who advanced the cause of integration in an all-white school in Louisiana in 1960.
We felt our blood boiling as we watched the playing out of racial hatred in police stations, in the criminal justice system, in the military, in schools, and in white suburban communities. Race and class cast a large and ominous shadow over America and that is evident in films about the shabby treatment of black survivors of Hurricane Katrina and in the struggles faced by inter-racial couples.
But then, other more positive images come to mind like the camaraderie in Black barbershops, in the wisdom of an elder tutoring a young Black girl for a spelling bee, in the woman who says that "soul food is about cooking from the heart," and, last but not least, in the dynamic and dramatic singing of James Brown in concert.
12 Years a Slave is a sobering drama about racism and slavery that will sear your soul and set you thinking about the shadow side of American history.
Akeela and the Bee is an inspiring story of an eleven-year old African-American girl who claims her power with the help of 50,000 coaches.
American Violet exposes racism as the sick and sad shadow that is still alive and well in America.
Amistad is a substantive portrait of human dignity under fire and pays tribute to the spiritual firepower of justice.
Antwone Fisher is a touching story about a young African American's desire to come to terms with his origins, a sacred task strongly recommended by a therapist.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is a moving drama that pays homage to the high value of freedom by celebrating the human spirit.
The Axe in the Attic is a deeply moral documentary that examines the Katrina disaster and the incredible courage, patience, and righteous indignation of evacuees who are desperately trying to survive and reconstruct their lives with dignity.
Barbershop is an entertaining drama about an African-American barbershop owner who makes the startling discovery that true wealth comes from investing in others.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is an extraordinary movie about a fearless six-year-old African-American girl who tutors us in the art of survival.
Beauty Shop is a comedy that really works thanks to the appealing performance by Queen Latifah as an entrepreneur determined to fulfill her dream.
The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975 is a lively and fascinating glimpse of the Black Power Movement and its messages for America.
Blood Done Sign My Name is a sturdy and sensitive drama about the Civil Rights movement in Oxford, North Carolina, in 1970; it rings true and reveals the scourge of American racism in all of its ugly manifestations.
Boyz N the Hood is a movie that speaks to our hearts with its messages about responsibility, manhood, friendship, hope, self-esteem, and prosocial behavior.
Clara's Heart is a touching film about the friendship between a Jamaican housekeeper and a young boy.
Coach Carter is an inspirational film about a high school coach who has the gall to suggest that athletes must make their mark in the classroom as well as on the basketball court.
The Color Purple is a stirring film, based on Alice Walker's novel, about a Black woman who endures incredible oppression until she finally learns to stand up for herself.
Crash is crash course in unmasking the racial and class divisions in American society that make every stranger into a potential enemy.
Deliver Us from Eva is an entertaining and insightful comedy about one way to handle a difficult person who is causing major distress in your life.
Do the Right Thing is a cautionary tale set in the ghetto about the racial hatred that still remains an open wound on the soulscape of America.
Down in the Delta is a movie showing that every family has a potential for resiliency and growth, no matter what the problems.
Eve's Bayou is a spooky drama that explores the bonds between women and the explosions set off by family problems.
Everyday People is an emotionally affecting film about the devastating changes taking place in the lives of the working poor in Brooklyn now that the traditional safety nets no longer protect them.
The Express is a sturdy sports flick about the legendary Ernie Davis who was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
Fruitvale Station is the compelling true story of a 22-year-old African-American whose effort to turn his life around was cut short by a trigger-happy policeman.
George Washington is an extraordinary film about a band of poor African-American kids who struggle to keep their souls alive in a terrible and toxic environment.
Get on the Bus is an important film which vividly conveys the yearning of some African-American men for solidarity.
Ghosts of Mississippi is a film that convincingly plumbs the spiritual impulses behind the yearning for justice in the story of a racist who originally was freed for murdering a civil rights leader.
The Great Debaters is an inspiring and well-acted film about an extraordinary African-American debating team in the 1930s with the talent and determination to excel.
The Help is a tribute to African-American maids in the South during 1963 and their courage in telling their stories as a form of grace under pressure.
Herman's House is a compelling and enlightening documentary about the important role creativity can play in the pursuit of justice and in the spread of compassion.
The Interrupters is a riveting documentary about three committed, sensitive, and compassionate warriors for peace whose heroism has made a difference in the lives of people in inner city Chicago.
Jungle Fever is a disturbing film about the racial, gender, class, and social tensions in urban America.
The Long Walk Home is a drama set in Montgomery, Alabama during the 1955 bus boycott proclaiming that racial equality cannot be eased into effortlessly; it requires the rigors of change and commitment.
Malcolm X is a diligent and respectful biopic that tracks both the highs and the lows in the spiritual journey of one of America's most important Black leaders.
Marshall is a rousing courtroom drama about Thurgood Marshall as an ardent NAACP lawyer in a town convulsed by racial hatred of Blacks.
Miracle at St. Anna is a World War II story of four Black soldiers that contains two magical moments of compassion that make the film special.
Mississippi Masala is a romantic film which challenges us to add more respect and tolerance to America's cultural stew of many colors.
Mr. & Mrs. Loving is a drama based on a true story which presents important slice of civil rights history with its theme of interracial marriages.
Night Catches Us is a bittersweet drama set in 1976 about two African-Americans in Philadelphia forced to come to terms with the ghosts of their past.
Once Upon a Time ... When We Were Colored is a heart-warming drama in which community becomes a seedbed where young souls are forged.
Our Song is an extraordinary coming-of-age movie about three girls living in a poverty-stricken neighborhood whose daily wanderings and intimate dramas during the last weeks of summer reveal their deep reserves of hope.
Paul Robeson: Here I Stand is an extraordinary documentary about the internationally known African-American concert performer, stage actor, recording artist and film actor.
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire is an emotionally poignant film about a degraded and abused African-American teenage girl whose life is turned around by the love an inspiring teacher.
Q & A is an unsettling film about the racial bigotry which permeates every facet of urban living.
The Rising Place is a melodramatic film that salutes an interracial friendship between two Southern women and the ways in which enthusiasm can be a life-saving gift in tough times.
The River Niger is a touching family drama, an exploration of Black identity, and a moving parable about love.
Rosewood is an important film about a little-known episode in America's racial history that destroyed a town and a dream.
Ruby Bridges is an inspiring flim about an exceptional Black girl whose Christian faith and spiritual resiliency are a lesson for all of us.
The Secret Life of Bees is a remarkable and heart-affecting screen version of a deeply spiritual novel about the healing and transforming power of love.
Selma is a stirring and enlightening movie about civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his crusade for equality.
Separate But Equal is a drama which traces the events leading up to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
Shadrach is a heart-affecting drama about a youngster who learns that we must give each death that enters our life the attention it deserves.
A Soldier's Story is a drama that is most effective in its message about the virulence of racism which makes both whites and Blacks the victims of righteous indignation.
Soul Food is an African American drama about the importance of ritual in holding families together.
Soul Power is a lively and entertaining documentary about a three-day concert of R & B music held in 1974 in Zaire, Africa.
Till is an inspiring and touching story of a Black mother whose bearing witness catalyzed the civil rights movement.
Thurgood is a stirring and enlightening one-man performance by Laurence Fishburne on the life and legal career of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court.