Film recommendations for Black History Month

12 Years A Slave

Wikimedia Commons

12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave (Wikimedia Commons)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Wikimedia Commons)
Malcom X (Wikimedia Commons)
Uppity (Wikimedia Commons)

Black History Month is soon over and a great way to continue celebrating is to explore a fine selection of Black films. From multiple streaming sites, here are four films to consider:

“Twelve Years a Slave” (Hulu)

This movie follows Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free Black man who from New York who is kidnapped and illegally sold into slavery in 1841. Ejofior’s emotional performance breathes authenticity into the film.

The story is based on the real-life Solomon Northup’s memoir (with the same title) in 1853. This deep dive into our country’s history before the Civil War is remarkable, as you are exposed to the complexities of slavery, racism, colorism and dehumanization.

For example, Solomon’s master William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) is disturbingly likable if you ignore his enslavement of other human beings.

The film is difficult to bear but important to watch, as it sheds a light on the harrowing life of an enslaved person.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (Amazon Prime Video)

This movie chronicles Jimmie Fails, a young Black man who is enamored of his family’s Victorian house in San Francisco, which he claims his grandfather built in the 1940s.The movie explores the impacts of gentrification, an issue that is still relatable today.

The movie stands out with its colorful storytelling and cinematography. There are plenty of funny moments in the film, which adds an awkwardness that makes it unique.

The touching plot makes you tear up, describing the wish to belong somewhere that used to feel like home.

“Malcolm X” (Hulu)
This is a biopic on the prolific Black leader Malcolm X, who brought attention to the Black American struggle in the 1960s. It is based on his autobiography and directed by Spike Lee.

Malcolm X’s imperfections humanized him and showed that not only did he triumph over his troubled past but he also became one of the most powerful voices for his people.

Denzel Washigton’s portrayal of Malcom X was awe-inspiring. Washington captured both the leader’s relentless attitude and the discipline he gained after finding Islam.

“Uppity” (Netflix)
This documentary explores the life of Willy T. Ribbs, the first Black race car driver to race the Indy 500.

The San Jose native began racing professionally in the late 1970s and endured racism throughout his career. His tenacity moves you when you hear him talking about his experience.

Ribbs turned the animosity he faced into fuel. The man was so competitive as a racecar driver that he would talk trash, win races and fight anyone on the track that wronged him.

The movie covers the aftermath of the civil rights movement and how systemic racism continued to plague the Black experience — a necessary watch.

These films are only a few stories of Black Americans, but they offer insight into the complex history of this country.