In case you need some inspiration, there’s no better source than a great story with a happy ending despite tough circumstances. And if the story features favorite black actors, then all the better. Here’s a list of 7 inspiring Black movies.
1. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The movie is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who overcomes immense challenges to create a better life for himself and his son.
Set in San Francisco in the early 1980s, the film portrays Gardner’s journey from homelessness to eventual success. Despite facing financial difficulties, personal hardships, and homelessness, Gardner’s unwavering determination and resilience keep him going. He takes on an unpaid internship at a prestigious brokerage firm, all while caring for his young son, played by Jaden Smith.
The movie highlights the struggles faced by Gardner as he navigates the competitive and demanding world of finance while balancing the responsibilities of fatherhood. It showcases the sacrifices he makes, his perseverance, and his refusal to give up on his dreams.
“The Pursuit of Happyness” touches on themes such as hope, perseverance, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. It portrays the importance of having a positive mindset, embracing opportunities, and working hard to overcome obstacles.
2. Hidden Figures (2016)
The movie is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, which tells the remarkable true story of three African-American women who played pivotal roles at NASA during the Space Race era in the 1960s.
The film follows the lives of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who were all brilliant mathematicians and engineers working at NASA. Despite facing racial and gender discrimination, these talented women made significant contributions to the space program.
Katherine Johnson, a skilled mathematician, becomes a vital asset to the Space Task Group, calculating complex mathematical equations that are crucial for launching astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Dorothy Vaughan, a natural-born leader, becomes a supervisor and the first African-American woman to oversee a group of white employees at NASA. Mary Jackson, with her determination and intelligence, fights for the opportunity to become an engineer, breaking down racial barriers in the process.
The movie sheds light on the often-overlooked contributions of these women, whose calculations and expertise were essential to NASA’s success. It emphasizes the perseverance, intelligence, and determination of these women in the face of discrimination and adversity.
“Hidden Figures” received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling, performances, and its celebration of the remarkable achievements of these women. The film was also praised for bringing to light a lesser-known chapter of history and inspiring audiences with its message of empowerment, perseverance, and the triumph of human potential.
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3. The Help (2011)
Set in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the movie explores themes of racial inequality, social change, and the power of unity.
The story revolves around Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), a young white woman aspiring to be a writer, who decides to document the experiences of African-American maids working in white households. With the help of two maids, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), Skeeter brings their stories to light and exposes the racial injustices and discrimination they face on a daily basis.
“The Help” sheds light on the complex relationships between white families and their black maids during a time of segregation and racial tension. It explores the maids’ struggles, sacrifices, and acts of resilience as they navigate a society that devalues and oppresses them.
Through its compelling narrative, “The Help” emphasizes the importance of empathy, understanding, and standing up against injustice. It shows the power of storytelling and how one person’s voice can make a difference, even in the face of adversity.
4. Remember the Titans (2000)
The movie explores themes of racial tension, prejudice, and the power of unity and teamwork.
The story takes place against the backdrop of a racially divided community and follows the newly appointed African-American head coach, Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), as he faces the challenge of integrating the football team and bringing together players from different racial backgrounds. The team, including the white team captain Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst), must overcome their prejudices and learn to work together to achieve success on the field.
“Remember the Titans” not only focuses on the team’s journey to become a cohesive unit but also addresses the broader social issues of the time. It portrays the impact of racial segregation and the resistance to change, as well as the personal growth and transformation of the individuals involved.
The film highlights the transformative power of sports in breaking down racial barriers and promoting understanding and acceptance. It showcases the resilience and leadership of Coach Boone and the determination of the players to overcome adversity and achieve greatness.
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5. Queen of Katwe (2016)
It tells the inspiring true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from the slums of Katwe, a neighborhood in Kampala, Uganda, who becomes a talented chess player against all odds.
The film follows Phiona’s journey as she discovers the game of chess and begins to excel in the competitive chess world. With the guidance of her coach, Robert Katende (played by David Oyelowo), and the support of her mother, Harriet (played by Lupita Nyong’o), Phiona defies societal expectations and breaks through barriers to pursue her passion for chess.
“Queen of Katwe” showcases the resilience, determination, and extraordinary talent of Phiona as she navigates poverty and limited opportunities. The movie captures the vibrant and challenging environment of Katwe, highlighting the socio-economic struggles faced by its residents.
The film not only focuses on Phiona’s personal journey but also emphasizes the importance of education, empowerment, and the strength of community. It celebrates the power of intellect, strategic thinking, and the potential for individuals to overcome adversity through determination and passion.
6. The Color Purple (1985)
The movie explores themes of race, gender, identity, abuse, resilience, and self-discovery.
Set in the early 20th century, it follows the life of Celie Johnson (played by Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in rural Georgia. Celie endures a life of hardship, abuse, and oppression, but she finds solace in her relationships with other women, including her sister Nettie (played by Akosua Busia) and the independent Sofia (played by Oprah Winfrey).
As the story unfolds, Celie’s journey toward self-empowerment and liberation takes shape. Through her experiences and relationships, she learns to find her voice, embrace her worth, and defy the social expectations imposed upon her.
“The Color Purple” explores the intersections of race, gender, and power dynamics in a deeply emotional and poignant manner. It addresses important social issues of the time, such as domestic violence, systemic oppression, and the struggle for individual agency and self-expression.
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7. The Great Debaters (2007)
It is inspired by the true story of the Wiley College debate team, an African-American debate team in the 1930s that achieved remarkable success despite racial prejudice and discrimination.
The film follows the journey of Melvin B. Tolson (played by Denzel Washington), a professor at Wiley College, who mentors and coaches a group of talented students in the art of debate. Led by the determined and passionate debater Henry Lowe (played by Nate Parker), the team challenges the status quo and breaks down racial barriers through their intellectual prowess and persuasive skills.
“The Great Debaters” portrays the challenges faced by the team as they navigate racism, social inequality, and cultural barriers. Through their dedication, hard work, and unwavering belief in the power of their voices, they gain recognition and inspire others to question societal norms and fight for justice.
The film addresses themes of racial equality, education, and the power of words to effect change. It also explores the importance of critical thinking, effective communication, and the pursuit of truth in the face of adversity.
Additionally, it highlights the significance of using one’s voice to advocate for justice, equality, and social change. It celebrates the achievements of the Wiley College debate team and their contribution to the civil rights movement.
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