Black Heritage Month

A Raisin in the Sun

I usually think of “A Raisin in the Sun” as a play and part of history, but it is also a 1961 movie with Sidney Portier. The title comes from a Langston Hughes poem and was based on Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago‘s Woodlawn neighborhood. The play was also made into a 1989 TV movie and a 1973 musical.

The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975

My fellow Demander Odie Henderson reviewed this documentary. Made by Swedish journalists who happened to visit the U.S. during those years, this follows up their interviews then with more current interviews with many of the participants. This is powerful footage, showing how necessary it is to step back and look at things from an outsider’s point of view.

Bouncing Cats

You’ve probably heard of Hepcats, Stray Cats and even cool cats, but what about “Bouncing Cats”?  This documentary, “Bouncing Cats,” shows how the African American art of hip hop has a positive influence on the children (and adults) of Uganda via Abraham “Abramz” Tekya’s Breakdance Project Uganda and will be show on the Documentary Channel, 19 Nov. 2011, at 8 p.m.

Clybourne Park

Clybourne Park is a fictional place where dreams were not deferred and the American dream was realized through nightmarish conditions. Lorraine Hansberry used this fictional place as the name of the white neighborhood where the black family of her “A Raisin in the Sun” were moving into despite obviously hostile white neighbors. In Bruce Norris’ eponymous play, we meet the white family selling their home in 1959 and revisit the new buyers in 2009, each time revisiting issues of race.

Have You Heard from Johannesburg

Connie Field’s five-part series, “Have You Heard from Johannesburg?” is both a history lesson and a lesson in the growing global community. This is a saga that is too complex to be contained in two hours and goes beyond the borders of South Africa. Field took a decade to make this documentary series which looks at half a century of activism.

Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary

I’m not convinced but director Stephen Vittoria believes that black journalist should be freed and he is a man worth listening to despite having been convicted of murder. Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a white police officer and no brutality was involved. He also attempted to serve as his own lawyer and that choice may have been one of his worst. Still, this documentary takes us back to a time when the Black Panther Party was shaking things up in Philadelphia.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

Sometimes good intentions aren’t enough as was the case of the project called Pruitt-Igoe. This was a 1955 33 building complex–each with 11 floors, but meant to house single mother families. That was almost a requirement. Consider the project was built at the height of urban population density, just before the masses of white people would start heading toward the suburbs and while populations were still segregated. This is a fascinating, thoughtful documentary well worth watching.

Sing Your Song

Some might go to see “Sing Your Song” out of nostalgia for a man who captured the hearts of men and women everywhere during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
But this candid movie about singer/actor Harry Belafonte is not as much about Belafonte’s storied entertainment career as it is about his role in the civil rights movements.

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