Movies to inspire and celebrate Black History

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Temba “Black History Month” Series”

As Part of the Black History Month Series, Moretele Times has selected a series of movies that documents Black History in the African continent and the Diaspora.

The movie reviews provide an opportunity to learn black history and heritage through the medium of Black literature and movies. Not only do these selected movies evoke the atrocities and deep scars of slavery, colonialism and racial segregation through the lens of history, but the narrative of the movies ignites black consciousness and pride.

Whilst the movies can be watched in the privacy of your own company, their narrative provides an opportunity for deep conversations in the family settings to educate your children about black history. The movies can be watched within a social or education settings with friends (over cheese and wine” or for youth clubs in school or community gatherings. The review will range from “movie titles with a brief review” or simply a “movie title” for which the reader can google and read up on the review for themselves.

But it remains important to reconnect the movie reviews for application within your own community and constantly and consistently as the deep question: How is this movie relevant to my history and my community. What lessons can I draw from these movies towards the improvement of my black consciousness and the upliftment of community. What community initiatives can I start or support to improve the quality of my community and inspire the youth to a life of purpose and service?

The 11th February 2019 will mark 29 years since the late Nelson Mandela walked free through the prison gates of Victor Verster Prison in Paarl.  Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom chronicles the polarizing figure from his early life, 27- year incarceration and subsequent role as leader and hero of the formally segregated South Africa. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is significant because it shows a more global scope of racism and colonization; more over its a film that shows how these things have been extremely detrimental historically to people of colour around the world.

Following the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (Jennifer Hudson), from her strict rural upbringing by a father disappointed she was not born a boy, to her giving up the chance to study in America in order to remain in South Africa where she felt more needed, through her husband Nelson Mandela’s (Terrence Howard) imprisonment. She then faces continuous harassment by the security police, banishment to a small Free State town, betrayal by friends and allies, and more than a year in solitary confinement. Upon her release, she continues her husband’s activism against apartheid and, after his release from prison, suffers divorce due to her infidelity and political pressures. She also faces accusations of violence and murder and in the end, must own up to her actions in court, while many remain loyal to her because of her fight against apartheid.

The movie Malcom X dramatizes the outspoken Civil Rights leader’s life from his criminal start, incarceration, conversation to Islam and subsequent rise as a revolutionary.  Malcolm X was outspoken against white’s treatments of African-Americans in America, as well as the non-violent movement and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sarafina is a musical movie about a young girl fighting for freedom during the apartheid days in South Africa. Her favourite teacher who was in support of her actions was arrested and this even heightened her desire to fight. The movie is shot against the backdrop of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings which ultimately led to the national youth revolt against the Apartheid regime.

The experience of slavery is as unique as the individuals who lived during the time period. If nothing else, we owe them the opportunity to have their voices heard. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is one of the most brutal and accurate films on slavery to date. The film follows Solomon Northup an educated, free black man who was tricked into slavery where he suffered horrifically for 12 years until he finally escaped. The film garnered Chiwetel Ejiofor his first Academy Award nomination.

There have been many biopics on the life of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, but none have been quite as moving as Ava DuVernay’s 2014 film Selma. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luth King led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. This film not only shows the significance of the movement, but it highlights Dr. King as man instead of an untouchable historical figure.

Generations of Black people have continually slaughtered in the streets by the police officers that are charged with protecting them. Ryan Coogler’s debut film Fruitvale Station  is Oscar Grant III’s story. Michael B. Jordan stars as Grant, a young man living in the Bay Area who is desperate to turn his life around for his daughter. Instead, Grant was murdered by the Bart Police, New Year`s Eve 2008. His shooting was caught on video and shook the nation to the core.

In what we would call one of the greatest biopics of all time, Jamie Foxx stars in Ray; the life-story of acclaimed musician Ray Charles. The story chronicles Charles’ life from his impoverish childhood to his tumultuous rise to fame and subsequent drug addiction. The film boasts not just an astounding story and stunning music, but it’s also a film of inspiration and perseverance during one of the most trying times in United States history.

Reverend Stephen Kumalo (James Earl Jones) is a back-country Zulu preacher in South Africa. When his son (Eric Miyeni) is accused of robbery and murder, Kumalo journeys to Johannesburg, where he is helped by a local priest (Vusi Kunene). He eventually meets James Jarvis (Richard Harris), the father of the murder victim, who is a prominent white supremacist. However, they discover common ground, and their mutual respect becomes a symbol of apartheid’s eventual demise.

Cry Freedom is a 1987 British-South African epic drama film directed by Richard Attenborough, set in late-1970s apartheid era South Africa. The screenplay was written by John Briley based on a pair of books by journalist Donald Woods. The film centres on the real-life events involving black activist Steve Biko and his friend Donald Woods, who initially finds him destructive, and attempts to understand his way of life. Denzel Washington stars as Biko, while actor Kevin Kline portrays Woods. Cry Freedom delves into the ideas of discrimination, political corruption, and the repercussions of violence.