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Essential films & series about the Black experience

Essential films & series about the Black experience

Breakaway Magazine
  • Breaking cinematic color barriers

Film can be a powerful tool for education. From MLK to BLM, these films will teach you something the history books don’t. They celebrate black excellence and prove black film is no longer a genre, but a vital part of film across all genres. In the spirit of creating a dialogue, we created a list designed as a resource guide to connect movie watchers with more relevant than ever classics like Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give, both tackling the epidemic of police brutality.

Powerful documentaries are also highlighted like the Oscar-nominated James Baldwin doc, I Am Not Your Negro and They’ve Gotta Have Us: A Brilliant History of Black Cinema, that casts a light on the renaissance of black film. This list also features classic comedies like Friday and Coming to America, sports films like Love & Basketball, and biographical movies about black icons, from Ray to Malcolm X. This list also includes powerful films about slavery including 12 Years A Slave and Django Unchained as well as films that showcase Black life in the American South throughout history, from A Time to Kill to The Help.

Films

The Wiz (1978)

The Color Purple (1985)

Coming to America (1988)

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Malcolm X (1992)

What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993)

Poetic Justice (1993)

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

Friday (1995)

A Time To Kill (1996)

Set It Off (1996)

Love Jones (1997)

Love & Basketball (2000)

Fruitvale Station (2013)

You Got Served (2004)

Django Unchained (2012)

Moonlight (2016)

Loving (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Get Out (2017)

Barbershop (2002)

Ray (2004)

The Help (2011)

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Selma (2014)

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Hidden Figures (2016)

The Hate U Give (2018)

Girls Trip (2017)

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

Us (2019)

Black Panther (2018)

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

The Photograph (2020)

Just Mercy (2019)

They’ve Gotta Have Us: A Brilliant History of Black Cinema (2020)

Series

A Different World (1987)

The Wire (2002)

Dear White People (2017)

When They See Us (2019)

Get our list on IMDB

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