10 Best African American History Movies

Friday, February 25 by Shawn Lealos

The 10 best African American history movies takes slices out of the storied history of the people, from the slave days prior to the Civil War to the fight for equal rights in the American South. With directors like Spike Lee and actors like Denzel Washington, the history of the African American people is told in vivid, honest depictions, never holding punches but always remaining invigorating.

  1. “Amistad” – This 1997 movie tells the story of a mutiny on a slave ship. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this remains one of the best African American history movies ever made. Djimon Hounsou stars as the revolt leader whose men are allowed a court hearing to allow them to return home to Africa.
  2. “Malcolm X” – Spike Lee directs this, one of the best African American history movies ever made. Denzel Washington plays human rights activist Malcolm X and follows his life and death. The movie was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 2010.
  3. “Glory” – This American Civil War film follows the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, remaining one of the best African American history movies ever made. The unit was one of the first to be almost solely African American men. Matthew Broderick stars as the man asked to lead them on an apparent suicide mission.
  4. “The Great Debaters” – This movie tells the story of a debate coach leading his predominantly black team against white people in the South in the 1930s. Denzel Washington stars as the coach in this movie, produced by Oprah Winfrey.
  5. “The Rosa Parks Story” – This made-for-television movie stars Angela Bassett as Rosa Parks. One of the best African American history movies, this follows the life of Parks from her days in school to the infamous bus segregation arrest. Bassett won an NAACP award for her performance.
  6. “Men of Honor” – Cuba Gooding Jr. stars in this, one of the best African American history movies. The movie is inspired by the true story of the first African-American Master Diver in the U.S. Navy. Robert De Niro plays the commanding officer who supports him and receives demotions for his loyalty to the man.
  7. “Buffalo Soldiers” – A Civil War movie, this remains one of the best African American history movies of all time. Danny Glover stars as part of the Buffalo Soldiers military troupes who hunted down Apache leader Victorio. These men were the first all-black military regiment authorized by Congress.
  8. “Pride” – Terrance Howard stars in this sports movie, one of the best African American history movies ever made. The movie is based on the true-life story of Jim Ellis, a swim coach who helps his African-American students succeed in the competitive world of swimming, a white-dominated sport at the time.
  9. “When We Were Kings” – One of the greatest documentaries ever made, this is also one of the finest African American history movies as well. The movie leads to the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman and much of the movie shows Ali training in Zaire.
  10. “Rosewood” – Directed by John Singleton, “Rosewood” depicts the 1923 Rosewood massacre. One of the best African American history movies ever made, Ving Rhames stars as a man who travels to Rosewood and witnesses the brutal murders. The movie also starred Don Cheadle and Jon Voight.
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  1. February 25, 2011 3:41 am

    Erich Hicks

    There are many more that never got the acclaim credits they should have:

    Keep telling that history, so our American History is told:

    Read the greatest fictionalized ‘historical novel’, Rescue at Pine Ridge, the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers. The website is: rescueatpineridge.com The greatest story of Black Military History…5 stars Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Youtube commercial: youtube.com/watch?v=iD66NUKmZPs

    Rescue at Pine Ridge is the story of the rescue of the famed 7th Cavalry by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. This story is about, brutality, compassion, reprisal, bravery, heroism and gallantry.


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