Looking for Something to Watch During Black History Month? Wellpoint Care Network Staff Share Their Picks
Since 1976, February has been declared Black History Month in the United States.
Throughout the month, everyone is encouraged to embrace and honor Black history.
One way to do that could be by watching films and documentaries that reflect Black culture.
If you’re not sure where to start, we had some Wellpoint Care Network staff members share their recommendations.
Enjoy the list below and feel free to add some of your own as well!
Sonja Williams- Vice President of Human Resources
My favorite/ most impactful movie of all time would be Do the Right Thing. I like all Spike Lee movies (joints), but to finally hear my generation’s rap music onscreen — it was electrifying and an awakening for me as an 18-year-old black woman contemplating the societal struggles of the time and an uncertain future.
- Do the Right Thing
- Get Out
- A Soldier’s Story
Alex Williams- Director of Community Engagement
Ali (2001) — Will Smith portrays the life of Muhammad Ali, one of the most recognizable and polarizing figures of the 1960s and 70s, and widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time. This civil rights champion chose to go to jail rather than fight in what he felt was a morally and spiritually unjust war. Ali used his voice, celebrity and platform to fight for equality and to “shake up the world.”
The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975 (2011) — A Swedish film crew documents the rise and fall of the Black Panther Political Party from a foreign, objective lens. Multiple leaders and products of the Black Panther Party are interviewed; the legacy of the movement is explored in this archival documentary.
Selma (2014) — A chronicle of one of the most important marches, events and subsequent passings of legislature in the history of America. Selma tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC) battle to secure the right to vote. When individuals say, “People died for your right to vote,” these are the people they are mentioning.
The Birth of a Nation (2016) — Taking its name from the racist propaganda films released 100 years prior, this version explores Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, which was nearly successful, causing widespread panic throughout the South and undoubtedly contributing to the eventual emancipation of all slaves in America. This often-untold story is necessary when talking about purpose, liberation and black resistance.
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) — Fred Hampton was a 21-year-old leader of the Black Panther Political Party that the FBI deemed so dangerous, they felt the need to infiltrate the party and assassinate him. This film explores the governmental fear of the rise of a “Black Messiah” or Black leader capable of unifying and liberating historically disenfranchised peoples.
Starlet Hayes- VP of Mission Advancement
Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History — In this film, Kevin Hart highlights the fascinating contributions of black history’s unsung heroes in this entertaining and educational comedy special. I thought that Kevin Hart’s Black History was really good, especially for kids. It has a bit of comedy to it, but not in a disrespectful way, rather to help capture and keep the attention of the viewer.
Black Panther — Black Panther is one of my all-time favorites. The first Black Panther movie opened to $202 million at the box office in 2018 and eventually went on to become the 14th highest-grossing movie of all time at $1.4 billion worldwide.
Why has Black Panther been so successful? A significant amount of Black Panther’s praise stems from its race- and gender-conscious casting and costuming. It boasts the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Black director, Ryan Coogler; an almost entirely Black lead cast; and, a number of Black women in powerful and engaging roles.
MLK/FBI — This was a great and interesting documentary.
MLK/FBI is a 2020 American documentary film directed by Sam Pollard (known for co-directing the 1987 Oscar-nominated Eyes on the Prize), from a screenplay by Benjamin Hedin and Laura Tomaselli. It follows Martin Luther King, Jr. as he is investigated and harassed by J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Marande Buck- Foster Care Licensing Supervisor
My choice is Hotel Rwanda. This movie provides information about an African country that we aren’t taught. It is based on a true story and depicts the situation that occurred in Rwanda well.
Penny Liddell- Family Services Supervisor
I Am Not Your Negro — Documentary based on the book, Remember This House, that James Baldwin never had the chance to finish. The documentary discusses the history of racism in America through the Civil Rights era, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and Medgar Evers; writing about their differences, but also how similar their beliefs and struggles were. Mainly discussing his observations of racism in America, the progress that has been made and how far America has to go regarding equality and to be seen as human.
Who Killed Malcom X — Documentary of an activist that embarks on a mission to seek out truth and justice.
Judas and the Black Messiah — Biographical drama that depicts how the Black Panther Party was infiltrated by an FBI informant, but also offers insight on the Black Panther Party movement.
Hidden Figures — Three Black female mathematicians in the 1960’s and their contributions to NASA and the United States. These women endured many barriers of racism and inequality because they were women and Black.
42 — Depicts the life of Jackie Robinson, the first Black athlete in Major League Baseball, and the racism and inequality that he faced from not only the fans in the stadiums, but also in the dugout.
The Hate You Give — About a girl named Starr Carter that is constantly code-switching between two worlds that she lives in. She lives in a poor, Black neighborhood, but goes to an all-white prep school. She’s having a hard time balancing the two different worlds. Her perspective changes when she sees her best friend get shot and killed by a police officer. She must decide to use her voice to stand up for what is right so that her friend has not died in vain.
Additionally, Milwaukee Film is showing a variety of films, and hosting screenings, conversations and other events throughout February. For a full list, click here.