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I get a bit annoyed when I flip through the Black History Month selections on HBO or Showtime and find films that fail to match the quality or the storytelling or genre diversity of the peer listings.  That is same feeling when I review the Criterion Collection and cannot find one black director.  Would someone let the folks at Criterion know to add Charles Burnett and Oscar Micheaux?  Or at least have them interview Rita Moreno, Don Cheadle or James Earl Jones? Mix it up.  After all, media is a wonderful lens for helping us to explore commonalities we all share.

The following is a list of 25 movies that tell the black experience and demonstrate a thoughtful view on the culture, especially for folk who think we are manifestations of blaxpoitation and hip hop. 

This is a selection of the best films to watch to connect with universal quality of the black experience, which allows the viewer to break past race consciousness when interpreting black culture.  (I thought about including BOYZ N THA HOOD…but didn’t, and I know Kasi Lemmons is on here twice when other directors aren’t but, hey.  Michaeux is not on my list because I have not viewed his films, and the same is true of Paul Robeson.)

25 Black Films that Everyone Should Know

  1. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1979)
  2. Sugar Cane Alley  (Euzhan Palcy, 1983)
  3. She’s Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986)
  4. Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954)
  5. Mahogany (Berry Gordy, 1975)
  6. Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991)
  7. Faat Kine (Ousmane Sembene, 2001)
  8. Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
  9. The Landlord (Hal Asby, 1970)
  10. Cooley High (Michael Schultz, 1975)
  11. Uptown Saturday Night (Sidney Poitier, 1974)
  12. Hav Plenty (Christopher Scott Cherot, 1997)
  13. Purple Rain (Albert Magnoli, 1984)
  14. Love Come Down (Clement Virgo, 2000)
  15. Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair, 1990)
  16. Hollywood Shuffle (Robert Townsend, 1987)
  17. I’m Gonna to Git You Sucka (Keenan Ivory Wayans, 1988)
  18. Brother From Another Planet (John Sayles, 1984)
  19. Brown Sugar (Rick Famuyiwa, 2002)
  20. The Inkwell (Matty Rich, 1994)
  21. Shaft (Gordon Parks, 1971)
  22. Hoodlum (Bill Duke, 1997)
  23. Talk to Me (Kasi Lemmons, 2007)
  24. I Will Follow (Ava DuVernay, 2011)
  25. Sarafina! (Darrell Roodt, 1992)

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