To kick off Black History Month 2022, we’ve gathered a list of our staff’s top picks that explore the black experience in fiction. Below is our list of book and film recommendations and why we love them so much. Take a look to see what you can add to your watch list this October!
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama film produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee.
A fantastic film which I first watched at University and not only stands the test of the time as a classic due to a great cast, script and soundtrack but also cleverly deals with racism and the problems of integration in diverse communities.
Coach Carter (2005)
A story following a high school’s troubled basketball team, based in an area of severe deprivation. The newly appointed coach faces a group of talented basketball players who are neglecting their education and making life changing decisions outside of school. Through various disciplined inspired methods, he attempts to install a culture and standard into the group both on and off the court, resulting in basketball being cancelled if the latter isn’t honoured.
Seeing a coach create an environment in which allows young people grow both inside and outside of the sport, through the means of trial and tribulation is always fascinating. It is also evidence of ‘progress not perfection’ as the team are knocked out at the last minute of the play-offs. However, the whole group have made valuable progress with their off-field development.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
I can highly recommend the film 12 Years a Slave. It’s based on a true story about a man called Solomon Northup who in 1853 was living in New York state as a free man but got abducted into slavery.
It’s a brilliant film and really shows how badly he was treated and Soloman’s struggles to survive until he gained his freedom.
The Colour Purple (1982)
The Colour Purple is a novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia.
This book is one of my all-time favourite novels. Walker expertly deals with complicated subjects of colour, feminism, queerness. This is a powerful character-driven novel that deals with intersectionality with nuance and compassion.
Man on Fire (2004)
In a Mexico City, ex-CIA operative John Creasy reluctantly accepts a job as a bodyguard for the daughter of wealthy businessman. Just as Creasy begins to develop a fondness for the young girl, a gunman kidnaps her. Now, Creasy must pick off a string of corrupt cops and criminals.
This is one of my favourite films. It’s a great hard-hitting thriller with a powerful performance from Denzel Washington.
Annie is an American musical comedy-drama film directed by Will Gluck staring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhane Wallis. Orphan Annie leads a hard-knock life with her foster mother, Miss Hannigan. But when she meets billionaire and mayoral candidate Will Stacks her life changes forever.
It is the second remake and the third film adaptation of the original musical, but in my opinion, it is the best. The film is so much fun and the songs are really catchy!
Cool Runnings (1993)
Four Jamaican bobsleighers dream of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite never having seen snow. With the help of a disgraced former champion, the Jamaicans set out to become worthy of Olympic selection, and go all out for glory.
I love this film because it’s based on a true story and showcases just how far teamwork and self-belief can take you in life.
To Sir With Love (1967)
One of my favourite books and films is To Sir With Love. It is a film based in the East End of London in the 1960’s. Engineer Mark Thackeray arrives to teach a totally undisciplined class at an East End school. Still hoping for a good engineering job, he’s hopeful that he won’t be there long. He starts implementing his own brand of classroom discipline: forcing the pupils to treat each other with respect. Inevitably he begins to get involved in their personal lives and must avoid the advances of an amorous student while winning over the class. It is interesting how he is treated at first, simply because of the colour of the skin. However, he soon wins the children and parents over because of his demeanour. It is however not a true reflection of the time as I am sure black people would have suffered much more from racial discrimination.
The Express (2008)
The premise of The Express is based on the true story of Ernie Davis, the charismatic athlete who became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, college football’s greatest achievement and go on to be drafted in the NFL. Fighting against all the odds and off the pitch to achieve this fete is remarkable. Inspirational on and off the pitch.
Colin in Black and White (2021)
It’s a series on Netflix about of former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s high school years and experiences that led him to become an activist. It is a real eye opener to the difficulties facing black sports people throughout their careers and how standing up for yourself can have setbacks.