Black History Month Movies on Swank

In honor of Black History Month, here are just some of the movies available through the Library that touch upon issues of race and moments that changed history. These films are available on the streaming media platform Swank, one of our library databases.  

The Color Purple, a 1985 film starring Whoopie Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, tells the story of an African American woman named Celie who tries to break free from her abusive husband and dreams of seeing her sister again, in Africa. This film still has cultural importance for African American women today.  

A more recently produced film which will hopefully remain important years after its release, is Barry Jenkins’ MoonlightMoonlight is a coming-of-age film about the story of a young boy across three stages of his life. He discovers his sexuality and what it means to fall in love.  

Another more recent film about an African American boy is The Blind SideThe Blind Side, a John Lee Hancock film based on a true story, tells of an all-white family taking in and adopting an African American teen who has been homeless and in and out of school systems. The film was a box office hit that sparked debate about how stories about race in contemporary America are told and what stories are considered profitable for film studios. 

Or, if you are interested in military history, the film Glory, stars Matthew Broderick as a colonel in charge of the first all African American regiment of the army during the Civil War. Denzel Washington plays one of the soldiers in the regiment.  

In addition to The Color Purple, another Spielberg film available through the library is Amistad.  The film examines legal battles of Mende tribesmen captured by the slave trade, who stage a revolt aboard the ship La Amistad in 1839. The revolt led to a Supreme Court Case to determine whether the Mendes tribesmen would be considered slaves or free men. 

Written by Rachel Riani ’19