BY NEW YORK FAMILY
As we celebrate Black history this month, one way to honor and learn is through a family movie night.
Movies can serve as lessons of past and present struggles, while others add diversity into our children’s lives. While some of these movies are clearly for older kids — meaning you’re showing your children the difficult parts of life — all these films lead to conversations that can help educate our kids.
So whether it is a film on the civil rights movement or one about an inventor who brings kids joy, all these movies are worth celebrating.
Here are seven movies to watch during Black History Month and beyond.
A family movie for all ages. “Soul” tells the story of Joe Gardner (Jaime Foxx), a middle school band teacher who has been waiting to play jazz with the best players out there and finally gets his chance. Unfortunately, Joe finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up at The Great Before, where new souls are sent to get a new personality. This sends Joe and his new friend Soul 22 on a journey where both end up realizing that life has a lot more to offer than they thought, and maybe he actually was at the right place all along. Rated PG, Disney+
If you’re like us and love to watch Christmas movies throughout the year, your family will adore “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.” While so many holiday movies are frankly not very diverse, this musical film is pure fun to watch. The story is set in Cobbleton, where famous toymaker and inventor Jeronicus Jangle makes his fanciful toys. When his apprentice steals his latest and most fabulous invention, it is a betrayal that changes Jangle’s life forever until his equally bright granddaughter comes to the rescue. Rated PG, Netflix
A must-see movie for your space-obsessed older kids. Based on the true story about the smart, strong Black women mathematicians known as “computers” who worked at NASA in the space program’s early years. The movie shows that segregation existed for these women even while at work and how they overcame obstacles and were game-changers in the “Space Race.” Starring Janelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer. Rated PG.
Selma is a movie that focuses on three months of what has been called a “tumultuous” time. The film shares the story of Montgomery marches for voting rights in 1965. Although not a history lesson on civil rights, this movie tells the story of a pivotal time in the fight for civil rights. It feels, unfortunately, relative to the struggles that Black Lives Matter protests today. Most importantly, it shares a time of the life of the great Martin Luther King Jr. The movie is PG 13 and features violence.
Starring John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, the first Black detective to serve with the Colorado Springs Police Department, Stallworth goes undercover and infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. Working with his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), the two detectives manage to “join” the local Ku Klux chapter. While the movie is not easy to watch, director Spike Lee directs a film that not only shares the story of Stallworth but shows how horrible racism is. This movie is recommended to be watched by 15+ (parents say 14+, kids 13 +) and older by Common Sense Media.
Directed by Lee Daniels, this movie is loosely based on a longtime White House employee Eugene Allen. The film stars Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo, to name just a few of this stellar cast. The fictional Cecil Gaines shares the story of what life was like having a front-row seat for three decades working in the White House, mostly the Oval Office, and how his loyalty to his job caused friction at home with his wife and son. Rated PG-13.
Glory is a cinematic Oscar-nominated film about the American Civil War’s 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first Unions’ African American regiment. While these men served bravely during this war, they learned that the Confederacy had issued an order for all Black soldiers to be returned to slavery. While the characters are fictional, the story is based on the regiment’s heroic actions at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner. R-rated.