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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

5 movies to help celebrate Black History Month


An image of a person watching movies featuring popular black characters 

Film gives an outlet for anyone with a creative vision to tell their story and put it on the silver screen. Black people have put their spirit into this vision by both telling their own stories and taking part in the storytelling of others.
To help celebrate Black History Month, here are five projects that highlight the work Black people have done and are doing in the film industry.
“Night of the Living Dead”

While not primarily focusing on the Black experience, this film is notable for being one of the first major movies to feature a Black actor as the protagonist.
In larger pop culture, it is often labeled as the first film ever produced involving zombies as the antagonist. The plot is relatively simple, revolving around a group of people led by Ben (Duane Jones) trying to protect themselves in a cabin as the undead come back to life around them.
The mythos created by director and writer George A. Romero and co-writer John A. Russo makes waves to this very day; the image of the zombies found in film has passed over every piece of media involving the creatures that has premiered afterward.
“Night of the Living Dead” is currently available to stream on HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock and Tubi.
“Do the Right Thing”

In a Brooklyn neighborhood, conflict begins when a customer (Buggin Out, played by Giancarlo Esposito) criticizes local restaurant owner Sal Frangione’s (Danny Aiello) practice of hanging photos of famous Italian Americans on a “Wall of Fame”, when most of his customer base is Black. Tension builds between the Black and Italian American residents of the area, with neither side choosing to step down in the debate of the prejudice depicted in the Wall of Fame.
Writer and director Spike Lee exhibits the racial tension throughout the 1989 film in a striking manner, quickly weaving the story between the characters in the neighborhood. The boiling point of the conflict depicted is presciently relevant, even in modern times, and speaks to the realities that Black people have to face purely by speaking against injustice.
“Do the Right Thing” is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

“Moonlight” is a 2016 coming-of-age story told through the stages of childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. It is an experience attempting to encapsulate the struggle of growing up disadvantaged in the modern age.
Through the eyes of lead character Chiron (played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) as time passes, the movie explores hardships that occur based on race and sexuality.
Pulling at the heart of Black masculinity and its effects on vulnerability in life, “Moonlight” is a critically acclaimed film that quickly became award winning.
“Moonlight” is currently available to stream on Showtime.
“Sorry to Bother You”

Taking place in an alternate, but present, universe version of Oakland, California, Cassius Green (LaKeith Stanfield) works as a telemarketer. While working at his job, he receives advice from a co-worker to begin speaking in a “white voice” to make white customers more comfortable with speaking with him. Upon doing this, he quickly advances in his workforce and uncovers a plan to create a new type of worker.
Boots Riley, in his directorial and writing feature debut, gives a striking image of the world created that serves as a critique of the current state of capitalism and how companies treat their workers. While Riley describes the film as “magical realism” inspired by his own former job in telemarketing, the satire in the film remains biting concerning the real world.
“Sorry to Bother You” is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
“Judas and the Black Messiah”

The 2021 biographical film “Judas and the Black Messiah” is based on FBI informant Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) entering the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers to gather information on chairperson Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). The film serves as both insight into the historical battles of the civil rights movement and commentary on the ongoing battle for racial justice in the U.S.
While going unnoticed by much of the usual movie-attending audience due to its release during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it garnered reasonable traction at awards due to the performances of Kaluuya and Stanfield. The story laid out by director and co-screenwriter Shaka King and co-screenwriter Will Berson is riveting to witness unfolding with the charged struggles of today.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” is currently available to stream on HBO Max.

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5 movies to help celebrate Black History Month