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Give “Roots” a rest and explore black history through films that capture more than just certain moments.

“Roots” plays on repeat on just about every television at some point during Black History Month. Yes, Black history includes chattel slavery, and stories about the Middle Passage and such. And, yes, “Roots” depicts the era better than any other film could — it’s just not the only film about Black history that’s been made in the modern age. Sitcoms like “Blackish” have created shows with historical points as themes. There have been several films that depict people and events that are pivotal to the liberation of Black people as well as cinematic documentation of how a people demanded and received equal rights as white Americans enjoy. Here’s a list that will take you from slavery to modernity in Black history. You can find them on Amazon Video, Google Play, Hulu, Vudu, and YouTube.

Marathon-Worthy History

This is the era of streaming several episodes in one sitting, or straight-up watching a whole season. Fortunately, there’s some exciting content that you can stream for Black History Month. “Underground” is a show that ended abruptly in 2017 but is a thrilling look at the life of slaves and the Underground Railroad. Enjoy 20 hour-long episodes that are based on historical events and include a historic character that will keep you glued to the screen. Go back further in Black History with “The Book of Negroes”, a Canadian show based on a real journal of Black slaves who fought for the British during the American Revolution and were rewarded land in Nova Scotia for their loyalty. The miniseries follows a slave who was taken from her village as a young girl and follows her as she becomes the voice for the loyalists and their interests. Marathon the six episodes over a weekend or space them out throughout the month.

Movies About Famous Black People

From the women who formulated the first trip to the moon to the men who courageously flew bombers in World War II, Black people have made their invisible marks in history. Through the magic of modern cinema, those invisible deeds are exposed in movies that are dramatic, thrilling, and just as entertaining as they are educational. The most recent of this list is “Hidden Figures” about the Black women mathematicians whose work was vital to the program in the early days. “Red Tails” follows a group of Black pilots during World War II as they bravely fought for a country that was drowning under Jim Crow governance at the time. “The Butler” is a look inside the White House during the vital Civil Rights era. The point of view, however, is through the eyes of the Black man who served the Presidency and knew all its secrets. “Glory” goes a bit further back to capture the torment and the bravery of Union soldiers in the Civil War. “Southside with You” is a light-hearted look at the epic first date of the most beloved Black couple today — the Obamas.
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Like most movies for and about women, “Wrinkle” is being dismissed as not as relevant or important as one that is being marketed to the masculine cinematic gaze.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a classic science fiction fantasy novel that has graced the hands of children for decades. The new movie, directed by Ava DuVernay, places a young, Black girl as the main protagonist and fills out the cast with people of color (POC). This is a huge deal, so why is it not spoken of with the same reverence as Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther”? The answer is sexism and misogynoir. “Black Panther” is an important film for diversity across various spectrums. It’s a blockbuster movie that features a majority Black cast with major names attached to it, the merchandising is aimed at Black children, it’s actually being advertised and supported by the studio. Its existence in the pop culture scene and what it means for representation in media cannot be understated. The same can be said for “Wrinkle”, but when support was called for in making its opening weekend just as spectacular as what is promised for “Black Panther”, many Black male “nerds” scoffed at the idea. Because to them, this film was not on the same level. Where are the memes? The think pieces? The promises to show up with your kids, family, neighbors, and everybody on opening weekend? “A Wrinkle In Time” is the newest film version of the story, there have been a few before but this one is unique because it has made the main character, Meg Murry (Storm Reid), a Black child. The first point of contention for many is that she is of mixed heritage, her father is white. Because she’s not “all Black” then that is given as a reason to dismiss the importance of this portrayal for Black and Brown girls. That is bullshit. The reason that this film is not getting the support from the culture that it should is because it’s a “girl movie,” a space in entertainment that is woefully under respected, especially when it centers on women of color, as this one does. This film is being marketed for female audiences and the first merchandise we’ve seen from it are actual Barbies. Like most movies for and about women, “Wrinkle” is being dismissed as not as relevant or important as one that is being marketed to the masculine cinematic gaze.
Related: ‘A WRINKLE IN TIME’ IS A GAME CHANGER FOR THE FILM INDUSTRY

With the release of “A Wrinkle In Time”, young Black girls will get to see someone that looks like them be a hero.

This year, a Black girl will get to save the world in the science fantasy film “A Wrinkle In Time".  The movie is a landmark achievement for inclusive science fiction and fantasy (SFF) films thanks to its director Ava DuVernay, who adapted the children's book written by Madeleine L'Engle. Not only do we get a Black female protagonist played by Storm Reid, but we also get Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling in prominent roles.  To understand how remarkable this film is, consider the fact that it was just last year that women of color were starring in prominent SFF film franchises. In the Marvel superhero film “Thor Ragnarok”, Tessa Thompson played the warrior Valkyrie. Meanwhile, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” features Kelly Marie Tran as Rico Tico, a member of a group of rebels called the Resistance. Although we've had women of color starring in major SFF television series such as “Star Trek” and “The Walking Dead”, they are only recently getting a major presence in SFF films. Besides last year's releases and the upcoming film “Black Panther”, it is difficult for me to recall many SFF films with a woman of color protagonist. Off the top of my head, the films I can name include “Pacific Rim”, “Moana”, and ”Advantageous”. Based on the fabulous trailers for the film, “A Wrinkle In Time” recalls the trailers for “Thor Ragnarok”, which conveys the similar feelings of an epic fantasy adventure. It is worth noting that “Thor Ragnarok” was directed by an Indigenous person, Taika Waititi. The success of Thor’s third installment shows the importance of having people of color on-screen and behind the scenes.
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Dubbing the sudden absence of predatory men as the categorical dimming of some bright, new era rings of a false equivalency for many marginalized viewers. 

If you have remained plugged into our daily Hollywood news cycle, it might seem as if each day brings a newly exposed sexual predator. While that may sound like hyperbole, the sentiment is actually not that inaccurate: since news of Harvey Weinstein's history of assault broke via major press in early October, dozens of celebrity abusers have been publicly identified by their victims. As an audience, our responses to the steady stream of stories have run the gamut – especially for those of us who have our own experiences with sexual abuse. Though some remain focused on the specific trauma (and to be clear, the well-being of the victims ought to be our collective priority), others have their sights set on the potential aftermath. What does all of this mean for Hollywood and the state of entertainment, in general? As we witness the rightful takedown of critically acclaimed men like Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., many have wondered how this continued exposure of Hollywood's predatory culture will affect the entertainment landscape, especially within television. Recently, TV critic Ben Travers of IndieWire noted Hollywood's current purge as a mark of permanent change to, in his words, “the new golden age of television.” To his credit, Travers is careful not to cite the onslaught of shamed men as the end of premium entertainment, but rather a potential opportunity for a more inclusive industry. That specific hope echoes those of many BIPOC creators who have been working diligently against the very climate that has systemically boxed them out of opportunities.  
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