On the evening of April 4, 1968, after learning that Martin Luther King had died of the wound he received earlier that day, Robert F. Kennedy spoke before a crowd in the heart of Indianapolis’s African American ghetto and quoted the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
Black History Stories
Steven Spielberg directed this film based on the 1839 mutiny by captured Mende slaves on board the ship La Amistad. Starring Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, Anthony Hopkins and Matthew McConaugthey, the movie follows the international legal battle up to the United States Supreme Court.
Although flawed by some historical inaccuracies, the film still received mainly positive reviews with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a score of 76%. Roger Ebert awarded the film three out of four stars, saying Amistad, like Spielberg's Schindler's List, is about the ways good men try to work realistically within an evil system to spare a few of its victims… What is most valuable about Amistad is the way it provides faces and names for its African characters, whom the movies so often make into faceless victims."
John R. McEwen of the Republican wrote Amistad is a moving work of art. It is not action-packed, but packed with emotion and good performances. It is every bit as good a work by Spielberg as ‘Schindler's List’, and as likely a portrayal of the drama of human suffering and triumph.”
The Long Walk Home
Sissy Spacek and Whoopi Goldberg star in this film directed by Richard Pearce. The film is set in 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, and tells the story of two women and their families at a critical turning point in American History.
On release, the movie received positive reviews, and currently holds an 85% rating on the Tomatometer. The review in Entertainment Weekly read “The Long Walk Home’ isn't simply about whites transcending their own racism. It's about how blacks, in the midst of one of the most revolutionary episodes in American history, saw that not all their oppressors meant them harm.
The true liberation was in realizing that decency could come from both sides.” Roger Ebert wrote, "...this movie tells a small and not earthshaking story about ordinary people, black and white, who managed to talk and managed to listen, and made things a little better."
Lawrence Fishburne performed this one man play about the life of Thurgood Marshall on Broadway at the Booth Theater in 2006. In 2011, HBO screened a filmed version of the play at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The production was described by the Baltimore Sun as "one of the most frank, informed and searing discussions of race you will ever see on TV."
Michael Reuben, writing for Blu-ray, said, "By the end of the performance, I no longer saw Fishburne at all. He had disappeared completely into the person he was portraying, a titan of 20th Century constitutional law who, despite all his accomplishments, nevertheless experienced his proudest moment on the day he left the Supreme Court, because it was also the day he stood with his elder son and daughter-in-law (with his wife and other son looking on) and made the motion to have them admitted as members of the Court's bar."
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
This documentary tracks the life of the first African-American Heavy Weight Champion of the World. Directed by Ken Burns, and narrated by Keith David, the film features a soundtrack by Wynton Marsalis, and Samuel S. Jackson as the voice of Jack Johnson. In 2005 the film won Emmy Awards for Burns and David.
Frank Ochieng writing for Worldjournal.com, said “Unforgivable Blackness’ will stand as an absorbing microscope in reference to resilient black manhood in all its vulnerability and vitality."
And Robert Moore wrote "I strongly recommend this documentary. It is Burns’ at his best on a topic that will interest just about anyone and not merely boxing fans. It deals with a major American figure that deserves to be better known.
In debates about the greatest boxers who ever lived, Johnson is often mentioned for his superb defensive skills, but hopefully after this fine effort he will be remembered as a truly great all around boxer and perhaps even the very best."
This film tells a story about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit of the U.S. Army made up entirely of African American men. Directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman, this film was nominated for five Academy Awards and won three including Best Supporting Actor for Denzel Washington.
Chris Hicks of the Deseret News, said the film was "Big in scope, powerful in its storytelling drama, yet intimate in its character and relationship development." Referring to Broderick, he found the actor "does very well as the young officer, and among his troops are two of our finest actors — Morgan Freeman...and Denzel Washington."
James Berardinelli writing for ReelViews, called the film "without question, one of the best movies ever made about the American Civil War".