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Black History Month 2021: Movies, Books, and Events

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

As we enter Black History Month this year, it is a valuable time to educate yourself. Learning doesn’t have to take place in a school setting, it can also take place on the comfort of your couch. Scroll through to read about some thought-provoking visual experiences for you to view this month.



Black movies do not have to be about struggle, they can be about happiness and the expression of life. These movies discuss struggle, love, and life. These films were created by primarily Black cast members and directors:

The Black Power Mixtape

A documentary directed by Goran Olsson that explores the progression of the Black power movement in the mid 1960’s-170’s.


A film by Ava DuVernay that explores racial inequality within the United States, centering its discovery around the disproportionate amount of Black people within the prison system.

Lover’s Rock

A film directed by Steve McQueen that explores a relationship between two people, their current love, history violence, and a 1980’s dance floor.

I Am Not Your Negro

A documentary based on an unfinished manuscript of James Baldwin; the documentary is directed by Raoul Peck.

The Color Purple

A movie directed by Steven Spielberg that follows the life of an African American woman living in the south and still paving her way despite the hate and violence she faces.

One Night in Miami

A movie directed by Regina King that describes what the conversation between Black icons: Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke would look and sound like over the course of one night.

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners

A documentary directed by Shola Lynch that discusses Angela Davis’s social activism and how it got her name added to the FBI’s top ten most wanted list.

Do the Right Thing

A film directed by Spike Lee following the interactions between an Italian and a Black neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Black books don’t have to discuss generalized experiences. These books touch on identity, discovery, and activism to enlighten readers on worldly subjects. These books were written by Black authors:

The Bluest Eye- Toni Morison

The story of a young African American girl growing up in Ohio and learning more about herself and her place in the world.

Sister Outsider- Audre Lorde

A collection and speeches and essays on identity by a Black woman, lesbian, poet, activist, and writer.

The Radical King- Martin Luther King Jr.

A curated collection of the words of Dr. King revealed that he was just about as radical as his activist counterpart Malcolm X.

Notes of a Native Son- James Baldwin

A collection of ten essays, published is the midst of the Civil Rights movement, discussing James Baldwin’s views on the current events.

The Motherload: 100+ Women Who Made Hip Hop- Clover Hope

A book highlighting some of the most pivotal women to the evolution of Hip-Hop and how they defied gendered norms as they simply did what they loved.

How to Be Anti-Racist- Ibram X. Kendi

A book discussing the general concepts of racism and suggestions for how to actively work against systemic racism to make individual change.

While still being cautious about the pandemic, there are still many possibilities for interactive action. These events call communities into discussion and thought. Join any of these events to hear discussions surrounding Black experience:

-Take part in Vanderbilt University Black History Month Events, offering virtual and in person opportunities to get involved in the community.

-Mills Performing Arts Trans Studies Speaker Series hosts conversations amongst and about Black trans people and their roles intertwining within the queer and the Black community.

-USF Womxn of Color Leadership Conference is an opportunity to be expressive in a cross-cultural experience for sharing and building.

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