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50 movies that address the history of racism in America

  • The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

    - Director: Göran Olsson
    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Metascore: 73
    - Runtime: 100 min

    "The Black Power Mixtape" documents the Black Power movement and its turning points within Black history. The found footage touches on many topics presented during the movement, including Dr. King's assassination, the War on Drugs, Black nationalism, and more.

  • 12 Years a Slave (2013)

    - Director: Steve McQueen
    - IMDb user rating: 8.1
    - Metascore: 96
    - Runtime: 134 min

    This slave memoir adaptation tells the story of a free Black man named Soloman, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. For 12 years, Solomon faced the brutalities of slavery, as he jumps from one plantation to the next in hopes to find his way back home. The film, which can be hard to watch, portrays some harsh realities Black people faced during centuries of enslavement.

  • Fruitvale Station (2013)

    - Director: Ryan Coogler
    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Metascore: 85
    - Runtime: 85 min

    Oscar Grant was a Black, 22-year-old man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Oakland's Fruitvale district station. Michael B. Jordan portrays the young man, who faced with deprivations as a Black man in America, journeyed through life as a Bay Area resident before his tragic murder. With footage caught on film, Grant's story brought a call for change towards police brutality and racial profiling that happens every day towards Black people.

  • Dear White People (2014)

    - Director: Justin Simien
    - IMDb user rating: 6.1
    - Metascore: 79
    - Runtime: 108 min

    This Netflix special follows a group of Black students at a predominantly white university. The students navigate cultural biases at the Ivy League college, and the story mirrors real-life social injustices that mark Black students in similar positions.

  • Selma (2014)

    - Director: Ava DuVernay
    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Metascore: 81
    - Runtime: 128 min

    Ava DuVernay takes us into the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Selma in the fight for Black suffrage. The historical context speaks to Black people's relationship with the government as they are forced to navigate the judicial system as second-class citizens. The film follows the events of Dr. King's eventual push towards the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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  • Rat Film (2016)

    - Director: Theo Anthony
    - IMDb user rating: 6.6
    - Metascore: 83
    - Runtime: 82 min

    This documentary examines the rat infestation problem surrounding Baltimore and keys in on topics of discrimination, redlining, and other elements that encourage racial divide. Baltimore filmmaker, Theo Anthony alludes through the study of the infestation that the city's layout is built on the back of these racial inequities.

  • I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

    - Director: Raoul Peck
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Metascore: 95
    - Runtime: 93 min

    In the mid-1970s, James Baldwin produced an unfinished manuscript that became the basis of the film "I Am Not Your Negro." The film relies heavily on what was left of Baldwin's written word to tell the story of America's racist history and its correlation to today's racial, political climate.

  • O.J.: Made in America (2016)

    - Director: Ezra Edelman
    - IMDb user rating: 8.9
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 467 min

    O.J. Simpson was arguably one of the most infamous names of the 1990s. Pieced together to make a five-part miniseries, "O.J.: Made in America" is the story that recounts Simpson's trial and acquittal for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman. A symbol of racial division, Simpson's story left a long-lasting impact on American culture.

  • Loving (2016)

    - Director: Jeff Nichols
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Metascore: 79
    - Runtime: 123 min

    In 2016, the real-life interracial romance between Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a Black woman, was put on the big screen for all to see. In 1958, this romance was illegal and was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, which ultimately led to interracial laws being prohibited across the country.

  • 13th (2016)

    - Director: Ava DuVernay
    - IMDb user rating: 8.2
    - Metascore: 83
    - Runtime: 100 min

    Ava DuVernay tells another story in Black history, this time of the 13th Amendment (the abolishment of slavery) and how it marked the beginning of a new type of slavery—the mass incarceration of Black Americans. The film focuses on the racially disproportionate numbers in American prisons and features interviews from prominent figures like Michelle Alexander, Angela Davis, and more.

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