It seems like we can’t escape one day without another act of racism grabbing the headlines. If you have young children, it may be difficult to explain the systemic suffering our people have endured and how proud we should be to have arrived at this point in history.
I mean, we do have a black family in the White House.
But it wasn’t an easy road to this point. It was the collective contributions of millions of our ancestors and elders who stood up to injustice. We must continue the fight and instill in our children the courage to do the same.
That said, movies shape culture. And as we continue to grapple with the issues of today, movies can be a teaching tool and spark discussion among our families. The films listed below remind us of “The Struggle,” but they also show us how to respond in peace—plus, they are great for family viewing.
This is the perfect film to watch if you have young girls. My mom, sisters and I cried almost the entire last half of the movie. It’s based on a true story. And is a great reminder of the change one person can make.
Dido Elizabeth Belle was the mixed-race daughter of an English captain. She was raised by her aristocratic uncle, but she was pretty much hidden from the world because of her skin color. She meets and marries the son of a preacher, and together, they help to end slavery in England.
“You want a player that’s got the guts to fight back?”
“No, I want a player that’s got the guts NOT to fight back?”
“Give me a uniform. Give me a number on my back. And I’ll give you the guts.”
That’s an exchange from the movie between Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers manager.
Again based on the true story of the Hall of Fame baseball legend, the movie shows how Robinson carried the hopes of our race on his back, endured incredible hardship and he never once responded with violence. As a result of his character and courage, professional sports in the United States integrated.
I feel like this movie doesn’t need an introduction.
But Selma reminds us that we are not voiceless and we are not powerless. No matter what the headlines make us think. It is also tells the story of how far we’ve come as a people and reminds us why we must MUST exercise our right to vote.
Just a year after Malcolm X was assassinated, the streets of Selma turned red with the blood of peaceful protesters and the Voting Rights Act was passed…leaders like Stokely Carmichael were becoming impatient with the non-violent approach to racism.
Then, a small college in far West Texas helped break the color barrier in college sports across the South. Texas Western started five black players in the NCAA National Championship against an all-white Kentucky team and ended the debate on the intelligence of black athletes.
The central message of Remember The Titans is the importance of unity.
We may come from different backgrounds, we may listen to the different music, but at our core…we’re human beings with moms, dads, hopes and dreams. And it’s when we come to see each other as people, that we can form bonds, break barriers and see change.
Invictus is the true story of how Nelson Mandela united post-apartheid South Africa around the Rugy World Cup. After being unjustly imprisoned for almost 30 years and labeled a conspirator, Mandela brought racial reconciliation to an entire country and likely prevented civil war.
In my opinion, Invictus and Selma are a tie for first place for best family movie on overcoming racism.
Questions to Spark Discussion with Your Family
I hope you’ll take the time to watch (or re-watch) these films with your family and have a meaningful discussion about the challenges we’re currently facing. Here’s a few questions that I hope will help:
- What issues did blacks face in this film?
- How did the main character(s) respond?
- Was this the right or wrong approach? Why?
- How would you respond in this situation?
- What lesson did you learn about the issues we’re seeing today?
BMWK: What other films would you add to this list?