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7 films about racial injustice that are must-watches

In honour of Black History Month, now is the time to learn more


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Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
Updated: October 6, 2020
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To mark Black History Month, we have put together a list of must-watch films to ask what more can be done, and how we can further educate ourselves on the social and systemic injustices that black people face every day.

While there are plenty of amazing films, TV shows and documentaries out there, check out our roundup to get you started.

13th

The title of this documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which is: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." The documentary looks at mass criminalisation and how the US prison industry has grown rapidly in recent times, with 25 per cent of people in the entire world incarcerated in the US. 

films beale street

If Beale Street Could Talk 

This heartbreaking film follows Tish, who is deeply in love with her fiance, Fonny, when he is arrested for a crime he didn't commit by a racist police officer, who arranges that he go to jail for the crime. Regina King won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role, and Rotten Tomatoes described the film as "[honouring] its source material with a beautifully filmed adaptation that finds director Barry Jenkins further strengthening his visual and narrative craft". 

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The Hate U Give

When Starr and her old schoolfriend, Khalil, are driving home for a party, they are pulled over for no apparent reason, and Khalil is shot and killed when the police officer mistakes a hairbrush in his hand for a gun. The film adaptation of the bestselling book looks at how Khalil's death is portrayed by the police and in the media while Starr mourns the mindless loss of her friend, while learning to use her own voice and platform to speak out against police violence. 

color purple

The Color Purple 

This classic film follows the life of Celie, "an African-American woman living in the South who survives incredible abuse and bigotry". The synopsis reads: "After Celie's abusive father marries her off to the equally debasing 'Mister' Albert Johnson, things go from bad to worse, leaving Celie to find companionship anywhere she can. She perseveres, holding on to her dream of one day being reunited with her sister in Africa." 

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Selma 

Starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr., this historical drama focuses on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. The synopsis reads: "Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965." 

film get out

Get Out

A satirical horror film, the synopsis reads: "Chris, an African-American man, decides to visit his Caucasian girlfriend's parents during a weekend getaway. Although they seem normal at first, he is not prepared to experience the horrors ahead." Lil Rel Howery, who plays Rod in the film, previously opened up about the symbolism in the film, and how it relates to fear experienced by the black community. He said: "It goes back to the way I grew up; I’m just being honest. Segregation created this. Stories about people like Emmett Till. It's history; crazy things have happened, so people are going to embellish and pass that onto their kids as a warning." Praising the director, Jordan Peele, he added: "Jordan was so smart to hit on all these stories that could be considered myths, but a lot of it is rooted in truth."

film 12 years

12 Years a Slave 

Based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, the film follows Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon, a born free man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Unable to escape and return to his wife and children, Solomon is forced to work for a series of slave owners before his eventual release 12 years later. It is a heartbreaking look at a true account of slavery in the 1800s. 

MORE: Meghan Markle talks openly about racial abuse in unearthed video

hidden figures

Hidden Figures

This biopic follows the lives of three black mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race in the 1960s, and their struggles to receive the same treatment as their male, white colleagues despite being invaluable to the project. 

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