Movies to check out during Black History Month

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Photo by Nathan Lampres

Many theaters are reopening after being closed due to COVID-19.

Black History Month celebrations are underway as students of all backgrounds recognize and learn about Black history, Black culture and Black accomplishments. The Center for Cultural Engagement and the Black Student Council are hosting events all throughout the month of February.

In addition to keynote speakers, group discussions and talent showcases, there are also a few different film showings that students can watch for free. “The Photograph” is being shown Feb. 12 and 13, “Selma” is streaming Feb. 19 and 20 and “Black Panther” will be Feb. 26 and 27.

All of these films have Black actors in their lead roles, which highlights Black excellence on the big screen. In addition to the films mentioned above, here are a few others to check out that are relevant to this month and Black culture.

“Queen & Slim” (2019)

2 hours, 12 minutes

This film tells a sort of Bonnie and Clyde love story. While driving back from a first date, Slim, played by Daniel Kaluuya, and Queen, played by Jodie Turner-Smith, are pulled over. It becomes clear that the white officer racially profiled the two of them and the situation escalates quite intensely. In a chaotic turn of events, Queen is shot in the leg. Slim then grabs the officer’s gun and kills him out of self-defense. Realizing what he has done, the two are now out on the lam. Even though he could have been justified in his actions, the media labels Queen and Slim as “cop killers.”

The film is about their journey in finding freedom while finding comfort in each other at the same time. It’s an interesting twist on the police brutality we see today. Time and time again officers avoid jail time for killing unarmed Black people as seen in the deaths of people like Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice, to name a few. In “Queen & Slim,” the roles are reversed. A Black man shoots a cop out of self-defense and the reaction is quite different. With an almost entirely Black cast, director Melina Matsoukas incorporates modern-day racist ideologies and Black struggles to create an award-winning movie.

You can stream this on HBO Max, Amazon Prime or Hulu.

“Get Out” (2017)

1 hour, 44 minutes

“Get Out” is about the average suburban white person who says they aren’t racist, but still holds some prejudices deep down. The main character, Chris, also played by Daniel Kaluuya, travels with his white girlfriend outside the city to visit her parents. From there he comes to realize that her family has been mentally enslaving Black people for some time. Contrary to some cross-racial films, white heroism has absolutely no role in “Get Out.” In fact, director Jordan Peele portrays white suburban culture as the source of evil that comes across as almost inhuman. Like “Queen & Slim,” this film has themes of racism woven in it that highlight the long-outdated ideologies of some white people in this country.

This film was recognized by several award shows, including a nominee for best picture at the Academy Awards. “Get Out” can be found on Hulu or a small price of $3.99 on Youtube or Amazon Prime.

“Just Mercy” (2019)

2 hours, 17 minutes

Unlike “Queen & Slim” or “Get Out,” “Just Mercy” is based on a true story about the blossoming career of young Black lawyer Bryan Stevenson in the ’80s, played by Michael B. Jordan. He’s a recent Harvard graduate who moves down to Montgomery, Alabama to fight for inmates wrongly put on death row. The film highlights a broken criminal justice system and the concept that Black people “are guilty from the moment they are born,” according to Walter McMillian, portrayed by Jamie Foxx, who Stevenson tries to liberate from a wrongly accused murder. After moving down to Alabama, Stevenson starts the “Equal Justice Initiative,” a law firm that provides legal representation to people who may have been wrongly accused or who may have been denied a fair trial.

The firm is still in operation today. “Just Mercy” follows the never-ending fight for equality that Stevenson and his firm are on to restore justice for McMillian and for many others on death row. This film can be found on HBO Max, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

These films are just a few that are relevant not only to Black History Month, but are also helpful in understanding Black culture as a whole  Some others to check out include “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Hate U Give” and the newly released Amazon Prime original “One Night in Miami.”

The full list of Black History Month events and the Zoom links for three movies can be found online

This story was written by Quinn Faeth. He can be reached at quinlan.faeth@marquette.edu.