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Movies can take us to different places and different times unlike anything else. A great movie allows us to enter and escape into its world, but it also asks us to reflect on our own world. Similarly, Black History Month is a time to celebrate and to reflect. Here is a list of ten great films that are entertaining and thought provoking any time of year, but they are particularly important during Black History Month.

There is a description of each movie, along with its MPAA rating - anywhere from G to PG-13.

Select the film below to find questions and ideas to think about while you watch and then discuss after the film.

The Color Purple (1985) - PG-13
Adapted from Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel the film version of The Color Purple offers a glimpse into the world of African Americans in the South nearly 100 years ago. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, segregation, and more.

Conrack (1974) - PG
Conrack tells the story of a idealist (Jon Voight) who moves to a coastal island of South Carolina to teach a group of all black students neglected by the state's educational system. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, segregation, and more.

Cooley High (1975) - PG
Set in Chicago in the mid 1960s, this story centers on a group of high school friends from "the projects." It begins as a typical (and humorous) snapshot of life in an urban high school - even though it's almost 40 years ago. But the movie becomes more dramatic when two main characters are accused of a crime. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the issues the film addresses.

The Great White Hope (1970) - PG-13
This film focuses on the life of boxer Jack Jefferson in the early part of the 20th Century (based on the life of real boxer Jack Johnson). He is the first black heavy weight champ, so he's constantly confronted with the racism and hatred of early and mid-century white America. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, discrimination and more.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - NR
This award-winning comedy treats a subject that is still controversial today - interracial marriage. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, interracial marriage, and more.

In the Heat of the Night (1967) - PG
This murder mystery tells the story of a black man and a white man, both police officers, who must learn to trust one another in the racially divided south. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism and more.

Malcolm X (1992) - PG-13
This Spike Lee film starring Denzel Washington is based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X and an Alex Haley biography. Malcolm X was a controversial figure during the civil rights movement in the United States. HIs personal and political journey and ultimately his conversion are inspirational.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961) - NR
Sidney Poitier stars as Walter Lee Younger an African American father and husband struggling to support his family and make a better life for them against a background of racism and segregation. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, diversity, integration and more.

A Soldier's Story (1984) - PG
Set toward the end of World War II this murder mystery examines the life and death of an African American sergent in charge of a racially segregated uit. It deals powerfully with issues of racism and stereotypes. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses.

Sounder (1972) - G
The Depression Era south, this tale of a loving yet poverty-stricken family of black sharecroppers in Louisiana exposes the racism and discrimination which afflicted the lives of many southern african americans. Hope lies in education and a future including increased racial justice. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses including racism, discrimination and injustice.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - NR
A film classic set in 1932 Alabama. A decent, white lawyer defends a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman. A great film with many important themes including justice, innocence, race relations and ethics. The accompanying questions provided herein offer parents and students an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the historical and contemporary issues the film addresses.

 

 

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