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Wynn Thomas: 5 Films That Highlight Civil Rights
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Wynn Thomas
Production Designer

Wynn Thomas is a production designer with credits including Hidden Figures, Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing. His latest film, Da 5 Bloods, is available on Netflix. Wynn also serves as Vice President of the Academy’s Board of Governors, representing the Production Design Branch. Here's the movie list he sent to A.frame...


One of the great documentaries about the Civil Rights Movement is Eyes on the Prize. This epic examination is one of the best films examining the early turbulent days of the movement. You don’t get better than this series. But not all films that deal with civil rights are documentaries—there are some great narrative films that directly or indirectly deal with the subject matter of the rights of the African American community.

1
To Kill A Mockingbird
1962
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Robert Mulligan’s film, based on Harper Lee’s novel, was considered a “race” movie when it came out in 1962. At the center of it is the trial of Tom Robinson, a Black man wrongly accused of assaulting a white woman. This film shows how the rights of this man were trampled on by the justice system.

2
In the Heat of the Night
1967
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This Sidney Poitier-Norman Jewison classic examines race relations at every level of society in a small Southern town. The search for justice is played out between Mr. Poitier and Rod Steiger’s characters.

3
Loving
2016
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This 2016 film about interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving tells the story of their fight to stay together and how they had to go to court in order to get the “right” to be together. A wonderful movie and a major court decision at that time that allowed Black and white people to marry one another.

4
Hidden Figures
2016
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This film, about three brilliant Black women working at NASA, is about how individuals can change the world one step at a time. And change the world in the workplace … not the courts. This film continues to inspire all women to challenge the status quo and to fight for one’s rights.

5
My Nephew Emmett
2017
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This heartbreaking short film by Kevin Wilson Jr. is about the events leading up to Emmett Till’s death. It speaks to the injustice at that time and the injustice that continues to plague young Black people today.

READ NEXT: Which movies made the Oscars shortlist?

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