When the Academy asked me to compile my list of five films people should watch now, I thought quite a bit about my grandfather. As part of the Harlem Renaissance, he moved from South Carolina to Harlem. His perseverance over racism is an inspiration. However, he was battle-scarred. I have been battle-scarred as well but not as much as my grandfather and my father. As for my two teenage sons, I hope they will be less scarred than we were. Much love to artists who have used their craft to illuminate this pressing issue of racism. “We Shall Overcome Someday” is played out. Someday is now!
This Ryan Coogler film gives a glimpse into the life and tragic, unjust death of Oscar Grant by the hands of police. Disturbing but necessary to watch.
An amazing documentary by Spike Lee, which reveals how long and arduous the struggle for freedom and equality has been.
Directed by the amazing Ava DuVernay, a film of this magnitude could not have had a more groundbreaking director. DuVernay not only captured the reality of the dominant themes of passion, sacrifice and brutality, resilience, and ultimately victory, she also honed in on the smallest of the surrounding details and finessed them masterfully to create a subtle and intimate picture of the events. Selma follows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his march from the titular city to Montgomery, Alabama. The victory of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 meant very little to Black people without the right to vote, and Dr. King made it his mission to further this effort in the face of tremendous violence. His courage, along with the many who joined him, would ultimately lead to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This film is not only a history lesson but also a strategic view of how to engage in the struggle for change without violence.
Based on the play by Lorraine Hansberry. This 1961 classic highlights the challenges of integration and the elusive hope of a Black family in the sixties attempting to attain the American Dream.
I humbly submit a film I wrote as my fifth selection. Also directed by Spike Lee, this film reveals much of the passion myself and other Black men felt when we attended the Million Man March. The urgency of now is what we felt back then. It is the urgency of now that can make meaningful change today.