Now recognized as an official holiday in many states of America, Juneteenth, commemorates the day when the announcement of the emancipation of all black slaves was made in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865.
In celebration of this day, I’m going to give everyone my own personal list of 8 films that everyone should watch for the culture — Black Culture. Most of these don’t focus so much on our pain, but focus a little bit more on Black Excellence.
Glory (released 1989, starring Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick)
Set during the Civil War, Glory follows the story of an all-black regimen of slaves in the United States Union Army. Ultimately, the Union’s eventual victory over the Confederacy, which would set the stage the creation and signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Harlem Nights (released 1989, starring Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, and Della Reese)
A spoof of old-time crime dramas set in 1930’s Harlem. This film sports an all-star cast of who’s who in Black Comedic Hollywood (as of 1989). Harlem Nights will, at least, give you an appreciation for your own pinky toe, along with keeping you constantly laughing.
The Wiz (released 1978, starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Nipsey Russell)
Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, this well-crafted re-telling of The Wizard of Oz is worth a watch on the strength of Diana Ross and The King of Pop alone.
School Daze (released 1988, starring Lawrence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito and Tisha Campbell-Martin)
The second feature film by director Spike Lee, School Daze is loosely based on Lee’s experiences attending an Historically Black College/University (HBCU). This touches on issues such as colorism, elitism, classism, political activism, hazing, groupthink, female self-esteem, social mobility and hair texture bias.
The Five Heartbeats (released 1991, starring, Robert Townsend, Leon, and Michael Wright)
Robert Townsend directs and stars in this tale of a fictional 1960’s singing group inspired by the lives of many major Motown record label stars of the time. Just do yourself a favor– make sure you watch it between Big Red’s office hours of 9 to 5. 😉
Ali (released 2001, starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith)
You will believe that a former Fresh Prince can float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and embody the essence of an icon not only in the pugilistic sport of Boxing, but in his love for black people and his activism as well.
Beyonce’: Homecoming (2019 Documentary, starring Beyonce’ Knowles-Carter)
This fascinating Netflix documentary goes behind the scenes of the planning, choreography and execution of Pop Queen Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella Music Festival performance, which was heavily influenced by the culture and aesthetics of HBCU’s.
Black Panther (released 2018, starring Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o)
Who would’ve thought that a comic book movie would not only change the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also, have so much impact on black culture as a whole? For obvious reasons, you gotta check this one out, if you haven’t already. If you have? Watch it again.
All of these should be available on either various streaming services, or on home video. Search them out, and give them a watch… for the culture.
photo cred: Marvel/Disney