Black History Told by Film

By Szaroleta, Tom | The Florida Times Union, January 20, 2012 | Go to article overview

Black History Told by Film


Szaroleta, Tom, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Tom Szaroleta

"Red Tails," which opens in theaters today, is winning wide acclaim for telling the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, who fought in World War II. It's the latest in a long series of historical movies that tell the true stories of African-Americans (or, in some cases, Africans brought to America as slaves). Here are some of the best:

GLORY (1989)

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher

True story of the 54th Massachusetts, the first all-black volunteer company in U.S. Army history. The company's leader (Broderick) faces prejudice from within the army, as well as from the Confederates he faces. The film climaxes with a doomed assault on a Confederate fort. The film won three Oscars, including one for Washington as Best Supporting Actor.

MALCOLM X (1992)

Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo

Biography of controversial human rights activists and Muslim minister. He was a leader of the Nation of Islam group, promoting separation of blacks and whites in America, before leaving the group and disavowing racism. He was assassinated less than a year later. Washington was nominated for a best actor Oscar.

MISS EVERS' BOYS (1997)

Stars: Alfre Woodard, Laurence Fishburne, Craig Sheffer

HBO movie that tells the shocking story of a government experiment that started in 1932, in which more than 400 blacks infected with syphillis were given placebos and allowed to die, even though a cure was available. Won four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.

THE GREAT DEBATERS (2007)

Stars: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise

Inspirational tale of Melvin Beaunorus Tolson, a poet and professor who created a top-notch debate team at tiny Wiley College in Texas. The team was one of the first to break through the color barrier and compete against white colleges. In the film, the team challenges and defeats Harvard (in real life, it was the University of Southern California). …

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