There are countless films and documentaries spotlighting Black history, the African-American experience, and the fight for racial justice. Many distributors are currently making temporarily freely available many acclaimed and important films and documentaries. You'll see links to many of these below, as well as a sampling of the holdings from the Fitzgerald Library's collection.
The Fitzgerald library has many great choices on DVD for films spotlighting racial justice, Black history, and Black filmmaking.
Boyz 'n the Hood - A 1991 coming of age film focusing on the lives of three young Black men living in Crenshaw, Los Angeles. Stars include Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr, Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, Regina King, and Angela Bassett. John Singleton, the writer and director, was the both the youngest person and the first African-American nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards.
Dear White People - This critically acclaimed 2014 film from writer/director Justin Simien "is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama." The film follows a group of Black students at a predominantly white college as longstanding racial tensions at the school bubble to the surface. The film is also the basis of the Netflix series of the same name.
Do the Right Thing - This film, which was written and directed by Spike Lee, who also stars is considered by many to be among the greatest ever made. The film combines comedy and drama with unforgettable characters and powerful visuals. The film takes place over one day, the hottest day of the year, on one block in Brooklyn as simmering racial tension culminates in violence.
Fences - This 2016 film is based on the 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by August Wilson. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington star in this moving tale of the Maxson family in 1950s Pittsburgh. Washington directed and produced the film.
Harriet - This biopic from 2019 tells the legendary story of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, played here by Cynthia Erivo. The film serves as a sincere tribute to Tubman, and Erivo's performance, in particular, is lauded as exceptional.
Malcolm X - This 1992 film from Spike Lee is based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley. Denzel Washington stars in the title role. The film, and Washington's performance, bring the civil rights leader's story to life.
A Raisin In the Sun - 1961 film adaptation of the award-winning 1959 play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry. The film stars Sidney Pointier, Ruby Dee, and Claudia McNeil in this drama about a struggling Black family living on the South Side of Chicago.
Roots - This 1977 miniseries stars LeVar Burton, John Amos, Ben Vereen, and many others in the tale of an American family from 1750 until the post-Civil War period. The series smashed ratings records and won numerous awards, including Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody.
The Fitzgerald library has many great choices on DVD for documentaries spotlighting racial justice, Black history, and Black filmmaking. Here are just a few.
The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross- This six part documentary series was written and presented by historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. It chronicles the history of the African-American experience, from the beginnings of the transatlantic slave trade to the presidency of Barack Obama.
The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975 - This 2011 documentary, made up of a treasure trove of 16mm material shot by Swedish journalists from 1967-1975, examines the evolution of the Black Power movement in the United States. It features appearances by Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, and many other activists and leaders.
Eyes on the Prize - This critically acclaimed 14 part documentary series chronicles the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 - 1985. The series uses archival footage, stills, and interviews with participants in (and opponents of) the movement.
I Am Not Your Negro - This documentary "envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words, as read by actor Samuel L. Jackson. Alongside a flood of rich archival material, the film draws upon Baldwin's notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to the current racial narrative in America.
The March: The Story of the Greatest March in American History - During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, about a quarter-million people gathered near the Lincoln Memorial to demand equality and justice. This documentary tells the story of that historic event and includes interviews with many of people involved, including members of the organizing groups, civil rights campaigners, Hollywood supporters, Kennedy administration officials, and the ordinary citizens who participated and helped make history.
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts - This 2006 documentary from Spike Lee tells the story of the devastation of New Orleans, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. Lee and his crew began filming just three months after the hurricane hit and would go on to interview nearly 100 people about their experience after the hurricane. The documentary won many awards, including Emmys, a Peabody, and a NAACP Image Award.