2024 Black History Month Films
1) Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands (2022)
Rita Coburn’s 2022 documentary MARIAN ANDERSON: THE WHOLE WORLD IN HER HANDS chronicles the influential life and career of the African American opera singer and civil rights pioneer, Marian Anderson. Born in Philadelphia on February 27, 1987, Anderson was encouraged by her family to join the Union Baptist Church choir by the age of six. Despite facing racial discrimination throughout her formative years, Anderson rose to international acclaim throughout Europe in the 1930s. With her powerful contralto voice, Anderson became the first African American to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 and later the main stage of the Metropolitan Opera by 1955. View this stirring portrait of a barrier-breaking artist:
2) Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes (2023)
Sam Pollard’s 2023 documentary MAX ROACH: THE DRUM ALSO WALTZES explores the creative life and music of the jazz drummer, composer, and activist of the bebop era, Max Roach. Born in North Carolina in 1924, Roach moved with his family to the predominantly African American community of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York where he began drumming in a gospel ensemble by age 10. Roach’s keen improvisational style helped to pioneer the bebop movement during the 1940s alongside other key figures of the era including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. As the Civil Rights Movement progressed, Roach released several politically charged avant-garde recordings in direct protest to the systemic oppression faced by Black Americans. View this critical study of the courageous artist and activist here:
3) Black Fiddlers: The Story (2022)
The 2022 documentary BLACK FIDDLERS: THE STORY follows director Eduardo Montes-Bradley’s year-long journey into the roots of Black fiddlers across America. Tracing the lineage of Black fiddlers back to the 1700s, this illuminating film brings to life these long-forgotten voices
through conversations with local historians and contemporary folk artists. View this vibrant look into the lost sounds and history of Black music in America.
4) Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space (2023)
Tracy Heather Strain’s 2023 biographical documentary ZORA NEALE HURSTON: CLAIMING A SPACE examines the groundbreaking work of the author, anthropologist, and filmmaker, Zora Neale Hurston. Arriving in New York City in 1925, Hurston soon became one of the central literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance with several award-winning works concerning the African American experience including “Color Struck”. Often cited as “The Queen of the Harlem Renaissance” for her impactful writings on the struggles and experiences of Black women, Hurston also became a world-renowned voice and educator of the African Diaspora. View this moving tribute to the influential novelist and international scholar here.
5) Boss: The Black Experience in Business (2019)
The 2019 documentary BOSS: THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN BUSINESS by the award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson is an insightful film that examines the history of African American entrepreneurship from the time of enslavement up through the present day. View this inspiring look at the critical importance of Black-owned businesses in the struggle for freedom and equality:
By Josh Windham