Films about African Americans

These three films provide a “second Look”  at a 25 year period of racial turmoil in America from a perspective that is neither derogatory nor accusatory.  Although flawed, each of these films depict a community that is vastly different from the the ghettos shown in many American made films.  Most American films rarely included African American communities and when they are included, blacks and their communities are depicted as fragmented, stylized stereotypes.  Stereotypes are not lies but they are always incomplete.  These films aid in erasing stereotype by adding to the completion of the picture and story of the undeniable humanity struggling under the boot of a powerful and oppressive society.

Nothing But a Man (1964) Sunday, March 25 | 4pm | Sumner Hall | Talkback facilitator: Robert Earl Price
Nothing But a Man is a 1964 American independent drama film starring Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln, and directed by Michael Roemer, who also co-wrote the film with Robert M. Young.  The film tells the story of Duff Anderson, an African American railroad worker in the early 1960s.  Nothing But a Man is one the first films with African American lead actors produced for distribution for black and white audiences.  It enables white audiences to witness the first romantic kiss between a black couple.

Uptight (1968) Sunday, April 15 | 4pm | Sumner Hall | Talkback facilitator: Robert Earl Price
“Jules Dassin’s Up Tight is a forthright treatment of black militancy. Somewhat to my surprise, it doesn’t chicken out. There’s no backsliding, toward a conciliatory moderate conclusion. The passions and beliefs of black militants are presented head-on, with little in the way of comfort for white liberals. … “ Roger Ebert 1969.  Uptight is a remake of “The Informer,” Liam O’Flaherty’s novel (and John Ford’s film) about the Irish revolution.

Do the Right Thing (1989) Sunday, May 6 | 4pm | Sumner Hall | Talkback facilitator: Pat Nugent
On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone’s hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.  Do The Right Thing is the only one of the three films with a African American director.  This is possibly Spike Lee’s best fictional commentary on race and the dual souled existence that African Americans live.