Celebrating Black History Month
Throughout October, we are celebrating Black History Month in the UK, which has been celebrated nationwide every year for nearly 40 years.
What is Black History Month?
The month was originally founded to recognise the contribution that people with African and Caribbean heritage have made to the UK over many generations. It has now expanded to include celebrating the history and culture of not just the Afro-Caribbean community, but of all black people.
Ways to learn about black history
Sometimes it might not be easy talking about diversity but there are many films available to watch that teach about black history in helpful ways.
Whether fictional, or about inspirational people, these films are great for sparking an important conversation on racial equality. So, grab your popcorn and settle in for evening.
Here’s our list of recommendations to get you started:
Race is a biopic film about Jesse Owens, the famed track and field athlete who endured racial discrimination and adversity on his way to winning 4 gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, a record that remained unbroken for 48 years. Despite his victory, Owens couldn’t even sit in the front of a bus when he returned home to the US.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
The story of the anti-apartheid leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom takes a global look at how racism and colonization has affected black people around the world.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
This Oscar-nominated movie tells an uplifting yet nuanced story of poverty and resilience through the eyes of a six-year-old in the rural southern US. It stars Quvenzhane Wallis, who made history as the youngest Best Actress nominee for an Oscar.
American Promise (2013)
American Promise follows two boys navigating the US education system over a span of 13 years. The documentary highlights the persistent educational achievement gap that affects African Americans across all socioeconomic levels.
Malcolm X (1992)
Malcolm X stars Denzel Washington as one of black history’s most revolutionary leaders. This famous biopic chronicles the activist’s life up until his assassination in 1965.
Dear White People (2014)
Dear White People tells the story of a group of black college students who grapple with issues of race, sexual orientation, and what it’s like to not fit in at a predominantly white university. The film, which won the Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, brings much needed attention to racial tension.
Good Hair (2009)
Good Hair is an informative documentary wrapped in humor. The film produced by and starring comedian Chris Rock explores black hair culture and the 9 billion dollar industry behind it. Rock was inspired to make the film after his daughter asked him why she didn’t have “good hair.”
Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.
When they see us (2019) – Netflix
This is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.
This film is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches which were led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about black female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race.
Just Mercy (2019)
Tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defence attorney, Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction.
Why don’t you chose a film to watch with a friend, family member or neighbour and discuss it over a virtual coffee. We would love to hear your reviews or even add any films you would recommend that we can share.
Other ways to learn
Thanks to the internet, you can explore black history at the click of a finger. Some of our favourite resources for Black History Month include:
Look out for another blog about Black History Month next week, in which we look at more ways we can teach each other and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the black community.