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Black History Month Documentaries

Documentaries About Afro-American History and Culture

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These documentaries focus on people and events that shaped the course of African-American history in the United States. Watching them is a wonderful way to learn more about various aspects of the black experience in America.

A Man Named Pearl (2008)

Shadow Distribution

This inspiring film focuses on Mr. Pearl Fryar who, at age 60, is a self-taught gardener who has transformed the physical and social environment of rural Bishopville, his adopted hometown in impoverished Lee County, South Carolina, by creating an amazingly fanciful garden that's become a popular tourist attraction.

A Small Act (2010)

Considered Entertainment
Jennifer Arnold's inspiring documentary follows Chris Mburu, a United Nations human rights advocate who grew up in an impoverished household in rural Kenya, and who, after graduating from Harvard, established the Hilde Back Education Fund to pay for high school for deserving Kenyan children, as a way of paying forward the kindness of a Swedish woman who sponsored his education.

Adam Clayton Powell (1990)

This Oscar-nominated profile of Adam Clayton Powell delves into the life and times of the man who fought so valiantly and persistently for civil rights in a career of activism that spanned decades from the 1930s to the 1950s.
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Crips and Bloods: Made In America (2008)

Docurama
Crips and Bloods: Made In America is director Stacy Peralta's insider investigation of two infamous African-American gangs that rule South Central Los Angeles, the area where America's two bloodiest and most costly incidents of civil unrest occurred--27 years and three miles apart.

Darfur Now (2007)

Mandalay Independent Pictures
African-American actor and celebrity Don Cheadle uses his celebrity and personal resources to raise awareness across the United States and around the world about the ongoing genocide in Darfur--and put an end to it.

Good Hair (2008)

Roadside Attractions
Filmmaker Jeff Stilson follows comedian Chris Rock on his hilarious, yet disturbing and sometimes alarming investigation of the social implications and economic impact of African-American women's preoccupation with having good -- that is to say 'straight' -- hair.

Gunnin' For That #1 Spot (2008)

Wrapped in the style of rap music, this documentary focuses on the nation's top high school basketball players who gathered in September, 2006, at Harlem's Rucker Park basketball court to compete in the first-ever Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic. The extraordinary athleticism and skills of these teenagers--black and white--are all prime prospects for eventual NBA stardom. The style of the film reflects the influence rap and hip hop, which originated in black communities, have had on contemporary American culture.

Have You Heard From Johannesburg (2010)

Connie Field's comprehensive and galvanizing seven-film, eight and a half hour documentary series about the defeat of Apartheid in South Africa focuses attention on different aspects of how South Africa's violent and heinous system of racial intolerance and abuse was brought to an end by the collective efforts of thousands of men and women working on multiple global fronts.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Radiant Child (2010)

Arthouse Films
Filmmaker Tamra Davis creates an intimate and moving biodoc about her former friend, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the gifted young graffiti artist whose career rapidly rose from New York street artist during the 1970s to art world celebrity from 1981 until the time of his death in 1988, at the age of 27.

Michael Jackson This Is It (2009)

Sony
Michael Jackson rehearses for the This Is It tour. The performances were to be the King of Pop's come back, but the tour had to be cancelled due to Jackson's untimely death two weeks before the premier in London. The film is intended to satisfy bereft fans.
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