Home #Hwoodtimes Celebrating Black History Month in Movies

Celebrating Black History Month in Movies

From Civil Rights to Oscar Greats

National Black History Month originated in 1915, when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to:

“Recognize the important contribution made to our nation’s life and culture by black citizens…seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”   

We will use this platform and celebrate Black History Month through cinema. Virtually hundreds of notable film works have been created that could be recognized here, but we chose to focus on 28 narrative features for this article, one for each day of the month. These movies cover a broad range of talent, subjects, and themes (a Documentary showcase will come next week). From indies to studio blockbusters, festival darlings to Oscar winners.

Civil Rights

Though many of these projects and categories do overlap, let’s consider this curated Showcase as a whole, with some subgenres to consider. First and foremost, we’ll start with some picks that more directly address the topic of civil rights.

Roles Models

Many characters and actors have been called upon to play heroes, in one form or another. Regardless of their celebrity or cultural status, these movies all shared powerful characters representing more than a basic stereotype. They all stood for something more.

Oscar Recognition

This is Oscar season, and the talent we’ve been blessed to experience is awe-inspiring. Black filmmakers have been part of the Oscar conversations since the early days of cinema, and Black actors have taken home the Oscar prize 22 times over the years. And a few years ago, Black Panther’s costume designer, Ruth Carter, and production designer, Hannah Beachler, made history at the 91st Oscars, becoming the first African American women to win in their respective categories.