Now he’s on trial for his life, and prosecutors are planning to do what they’ve done to hundreds of other accused hip-hop artists: Use his own lyrics as evidence against him.
Because my research centers on African American literary and musical traditions – with a particular emphasis on hip-hop culture – I was asked by the defense to testify as an expert witness in Drakeo’s first trial.
This is work I’m called to do quite regularly. My best guess is that I’ve consulted on over 60 cases in which prosecutors have used rap lyrics or videos as evidence of guilt. In addition, my research with University of Georgia law professor Andrea Dennis has uncovered more than 500 instances in which prosecutors have used this strategy, a number we’re certain is just the tip of the iceberg.
As an expert witness, my job is to correct the prosecutors’ characterizations of rap music. They routinely ignore the fact that rap is a form of artistic expression – with stage names, an emphasis on figurative language and hyperbolic rhetoric – and instead present rap as autobiographical.
In effect, they ask jurors to suspend the distinction between author and narrator, reality and fiction, and to read rap lyrics as literal confessions of guilt.
No other art form is exploited like this in court. And yet it’s an effective strategy precisely because it taps into stereotypes about rap music and the young men of color who are its primary creators.
Lyrics on trial
To recap Drakeo’s legal drama: Last year, he was charged and tried in connection with a shooting at a party that resulted in the death of a 24-year-old man named Davion Gregory.
According to prosecutors, the shooting was botched. Drakeo, they claimed, had ordered the shooter to kill a different person – a musical rival who raps as RJ.
Their evidence was flimsy. RJ wasn’t even at the party, and there’s no evidence he and Drakeo ever had violent confrontations. In fact, RJ has repeatedly said that he doesn’t believe he was ever targeted by Drakeo. One of the district attorney’s own witnesses also said Drakeo didn’t know the shooting was going to happen.
So to bolster their case, prosecutors focused on Drakeo’s music. At one point, for example, they cited a line from his song “Flex Freestyle,” in which he raps, “I’m ridin’ round town with a Tommy gun and a Jag / And you can disregard the yelling, RJ tied up in the back.”
The line was fictional; nobody claims that RJ was ever tied up in the back of Drakeo’s car. Nevertheless, prosecutors wanted the jury to believe that the lyrics were actual reflections of Caldwell’s desire to harm an industry rival.
Despite the prosecution’s efforts to use Drakeo’s music against him, it didn’t work: In July 2019, the jury acquitted Drakeo of most counts, including the multiple counts of murder.
Nonetheless, prosecutors are taking the unusual step of retrying Drakeo on a charge on which the jury deadlocked the first time around: criminal gang conspiracy.
In 2014, for instance, San Diego prosecutors charged Brandon Duncan, who raps as Tiny Doo, with criminal gang conspiracy in connection with a series of shootings that took place in San Diego in 2013 and 2014. Nobody argued that Duncan participated in or even knew about the shootings. Nor was he in a gang.
But citing the same law now being used against Drakeo, prosecutors said his violent rap lyrics promoted gang violence – and that Duncan benefited from that violence in the form of enhanced “street cred.” So for crimes that everyone agrees Duncan didn’t commit or know about, prosecutors sought to put him away for 25 years to life. He sat in jail for more than seven months before a judge finally threw out the charges against him. Duncan later filed a lawsuit for wrongful arrest in the case, and just last month he settled with the city of San Diego for over US$700,000.
Duncan was far more fortunate than most young men who have their lyrics weaponized against them in court. The vast majority of the cases we’ve found end in conviction, often with lengthy sentences.
To highlight just a few of the recent cases I’ve testified in: There was Victor Hernandez, sentenced to life in prison for murder in Arizona; Christopher Bassett, sentenced to life plus 35 years for murder in Tennessee; and Ronnie Fuston, sentenced to death for murder in Oklahoma.
The question is not whether these young men committed the crimes they were convicted of. The question is whether they received a fair trial from an unbiased jury. When rap lyrics are introduced as evidence, that becomes highly dubious.
There’s a rhyme and a reason
Introducing rap lyrics can be highly effective for prosecutors because it allows them to draw on stereotypes about young black and Latino men as violent, hypersexual and dangerous. In front of a jury, that can foment prejudice.
Not only have I seen this firsthand, but there is also empirical evidence that reveals just how prejudicial rap lyrics can be. For example, in the late 1990s, psychologist Stuart Fischoff conducted a study to measure the effect of explicit rap lyrics on juries.
Participants were given basic biographical information about a hypothetical 18-year-old black male, but only some were shown a set of his violent, sexually explicit rap lyrics. Those who read the lyrics were significantly more likely to believe the man was capable of committing a murder than those who did not.
In a study conducted by social psychologist Carrie Fried, participants were given a set of violent lyrics without any indication of the artist or musical genre. In reality they were from the 1960 song “Bad Man’s Blunder” by the folk group Kingston Trio. Researchers told one group of participants that the lyrics were from a country song, and told the other group that they came from a rap song. In the end, participants who believed the lyrics came from a rap song were significantly more likely to view them as dangerous, offensive and in need of regulation. It’s worth noting that Fried’s study was replicated in 2016, with similar findings.
These studies – and others – highlight the enduring racial stereotypes that inform people’s perceptions of rap music. They also help explain an obvious double standard at work, one that the Supreme Court of New Jersey laid bare in a 2014 opinion that denounced the use of rap lyrics as evidence:
“One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ actually shot a sheriff, or that Edgar Allan Poe buried a man beneath his floorboards, as depicted in his short story ‘The Tell–Tale Heart,’ simply because of their respective artistic endeavors on those subjects. Defendant’s lyrics should receive no different treatment.”
Unfortunately, however, they do receive different treatment, even as rap has emerged as one of the world’s most popular and influential genres.
It has also grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, one that offers a chance at upward mobility, particularly in communities where such opportunities are desperately hard to come by.
Criminalizing it is cruel, unjust and silences some of the people most in need of a voice.
Oscar Devereaux Micheaux (January 2, 1884 – March 25, 1951) was an African American author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 films. Although the short-lived Micheaux Book & Film Company produced some films, he is regarded as the first major African-American feature filmmaker, the most successful African-American filmmaker of the first half of the 20th century and the most prominent producer of race films.
Race films, mostly produced between 1915 and 1950 consisted of films produced for an all-black audience and featuring black casts. Micheaux produced both silent films and sound films when the industry changed to incorporate speaking actors.
Micheaux was born on a farm in Metropolis, Illinois on January 2, 1884. He was the fifth child born to Calvin S. and Belle Micheaux, who had a total of 13 children. In his later years, Micheaux added an “e” to his last name. His father was born a slave in Kentucky. Because of its surname, his father's family appears to have been associated with French-descended settlers. French Huguenot refugees had settled in Virginia in 1700; their descendants took slaves west when they migrated into Kentucky after the American Revolutionary War.
In his later years, Micheaux wrote about the social oppression he experienced as a young boy. To give their children education, his parents relocated to the city for better schooling. Micheaux attended a well-established school for several years before the family eventually ran into money troubles and were forced to relocate to the farm. Unhappy, Micheaux became rebellious and discontented. His struggles caused internal problems within his family. His father was not happy with him and sent him away to do marketing within the city. Micheaux found pleasure in this job because he was able to speak to many new people and learned many social skills that he would later reflect within his films.
When Micheaux was 17 years old, he moved to Chicago, Illinois to live with his older brother, then working as a waiter. Micheaux became dissatisfied with what he viewed as his brother’s way of living “the good life.” He rented his own place and found a job in the stockyards, which he found difficult. He worked many different jobs, moving from the stockyards to the steel mills.
After being “swindled out of two dollars” by an employment agency, Micheaux decided to become his own boss. His first business was a shoeshine stand, which he set up at a white suburban barbershop, away from Chicago competition. He learned the basic strategies of business and started to save money. He became a Pullman porter on the major railroads, at that time considered prestigious employment for African Americans because it was relatively stable, well-paid, and secure, and it enabled travel and interaction with new people. This job was an informal education for Micheaux. He profited financially, and also gained contacts and knowledge about the world through traveling as well as a greater understanding for business. When he left the position, he had seen much of the United States, had a couple of thousand dollars saved in his bank account, and had made a number of connections with wealthy white people who helped his future endeavors.
Micheaux moved to Dallas, South Dakota, where he bought land and worked as a homesteader. This experience inspired his first novels and films. His neighbors on the frontier were all white. "Some recall that [Micheaux] rarely sat at a table with his white neighbors." Micheaux’s years as a homesteader allowed him to learn more about human relations and farming. While farming, Micheaux wrote articles and submitted them to the press. The Chicago Defender published one of his earliest articles.
In South Dakota, Micheaux married Orlean McCracken. Her family proved to be complex and burdensome for Micheaux. Unhappy with their living arrangements, Orlean felt that Micheaux did not pay enough attention to her. She gave birth while he was away on business. She was reported to have emptied their bank accounts and fled. Orlean’s father sold Micheaux's property and took the money from the sale. After his return, Micheaux tried unsuccessfully to get Orlean and his property back.
Micheaux decided to concentrate on writing and, eventually, filmmaking, a new industry. He wrote seven novels. In 1913, 1,000 copies of his first book, The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Homesteader, were printed. He published the book anonymously, for unknown reasons. Based on his experiences as a homesteader and the failure of his first marriage, it was largely autobiographical. Although character names have been changed, the protagonist is named Oscar Devereaux. His theme was about African Americans realizing their potential and succeeding in areas where they had not felt they could.
The book outlines the difference between city lifestyles of Negroes and the life he decided to lead as a lone Negro out on the far West as a pioneer. He discusses the culture of doers who want to accomplish and those who see themselves as victims of injustice and hopelessness and who do not want to try to succeed, but instead like to pretend to be successful while living the city lifestyle in poverty.
He had become frustrated with getting members of his race to populate the frontier and make something of themselves, with real work and property investment. He wrote over 100 letters to fellow Negroes in the East beckoning them to come West, and only his older brother eventually came West. One of Micheaux's fundamental beliefs is that hard work and enterprise will make any person rise to respect and prominence no matter his or her race.
Micheaux’s first novel The Conquest was adapted to film and re-titled, The Homesteader. In 1918, his novel The Homesteader, dedicated to Booker T. Washington, attracted the attention of George Johnson, the manager of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company in Los Angeles. After Johnson offered to make The Homesteader into a new feature film, negotiations and paperwork became contentious between Micheaux and him. Micheaux wanted to be directly involved in the adaptation of his book as a movie, but Johnson resisted and never produced the film.
Instead, Micheaux founded the Micheaux Film & Book Company of Sioux City in Chicago; its first project was the production of The Homesteader as a feature film. Micheaux had a major career as a film producer and director: He produced over 40 films, which drew audiences throughout the U.S. as well as internationally.
This film, was met with critical and commercial success. It revolves around a man named Jean Baptiste, called the Homesteader, who falls in love with many white women but resists marrying one out of his loyalty to his race. Baptiste sacrifices love to be a key symbol for his fellow African Americans. He looks for love among his own people and marries an African-American woman. Relations between them deteriorate. Eventually, Baptiste is not allowed to see his wife. She kills her father for keeping them apart and commits suicide. Baptiste is accused of the crime, but is ultimately cleared. An old love helps him through his troubles. After he learns that she is a mulatto and thus part African, they marry. This film deals extensively with race relationships.
Micheaux contacted wealthy white connections from his earlier career as a porter, and sold stock for his company at $75 to $100 a share. Micheaux hired actors and actresses and decided to have the premiere in Chicago. The film and Micheaux received high praise from film critics. One article credited Micheaux with “a historic breakthrough, a creditable, dignified achievement”. Some members of the Chicago clergy criticized the film as libelous. The Homesteader became known as Micheaux’s breakout film; it helped him become widely known as a writer and a filmmaker.
In addition to writing and directing his own films, Micheaux also adapted the works of different writers for his silent pictures. Many of his films were open, blunt and thought-provoking regarding certain racial issues of that time. He once commented, “It is only by presenting those portions of the race portrayed in my pictures, in the light and background of their true state, that we can raise our people to greater heights”. Financial hardships during the Great Depression eventually made it impossible for Micheaux to keep producing films, and he returned to writing.
Micheaux’s second silent film was Within Our Gates, produced in 1920. Although sometimes considered his response to the film Birth of a Nation, Micheaux said that he created it independently as a response to the widespread social instability following World War I.
Within Our Gates revolved around the main character, Sylvia Landry, a mixed-race school teacher. In a flashback, Sylvia is shown growing up as the adopted daughter of a sharecropper. When her father confronts their white landlord over money, a fight ensues. The landlord is shot by another white man, but Sylvia's adoptive father is accused and lynched with her adoptive mother.
Sylvia is almost raped by the landowner’s brother but discovers that he is her biological father. Micheaux always depicts African Americans as being serious and reaching for higher education. Before the flashback scene, we see that Sylvia travels to Boston, seeking funding for her school, which serves black children. They are underserved by the segregated society. On her journey, she is hit by the car of a rich white woman. Learning about Landry's cause, the woman decides to give her school $50,000.
Within the film, Micheaux depicts educated and professional people in black society as light-skinned, representing the elite status of some of the mixed-race people who comprised the majority of African Americans free before the Civil War. Poor people are represented as dark-skinned and with more undiluted African ancestry. Mixed-race people also feature as some of the villains. The film is set within the Jim Crow era. It contrasted the experiences for African Americans who stayed in rural areas and others who had migrated to cities and become urbanized. Micheaux explored the suffering of African Americans in the present day, without explaining how the situation arose in history. Some feared that this film would cause even more unrest within society, and others believed it would open the public’s eyes to the unjust treatment by whites of blacks. Protests against the film continued until the day it was released. Because of its controversial status, the film was banned from some theaters.
Micheaux's 1925 Body and Soul starred Paul Robeson in his motion picture debut.
An escaped prisoner seeks refuge in the predominantly African-American town of Tatesville, Georgia, by passing himself off as the Rt. Reverend Isaiah T. Jenkins. He is joined in town by a fellow criminal, and the pair scheme to swindle the phony reverend's congregation of their offerings. Jenkins falls in love with a young member of his congregation, Isabelle Perkins, even though she is in love with a poor young man named Sylvester, who happens to be Jenkins’ long-estranged twin brother.
Jenkins steals money from Martha Jane, Isabelle's mother and convinces the young woman to take the blame for his crime. She flees to Atlanta and dies just as her mother locates her. Before dying, Isabelle reveals to her mother that Jenkins raped her and that he is the one who took her mother's money. She explains that she did not speak up before because she knew her mother would not believe her.
Returning to Tatesville, Martha Jane confronts Jenkins in front of the congregation. Jenkins flees and during a twilight struggle he kills a man who tries to bring him to justice. The following morning, Martha Jane awakens and realizes the episode with Jenkins was only a dream. She provides Isabelle (who is not dead) and Sylvester with the funds to start a married life together.
Micheaux adapted two works by Charles W. Chesnutt, which he released under their original titles: The Conjure Woman (1926) and The House Behind the Cedars (1927). The latter, which dealt with issues of mixed race and passing, created so much controversy when reviewed by the Film Board of Virginia that he was forced to make cuts to have it shown. He remade this story as a sound film in 1932, releasing it with the title Veiled Aristocrats. The silent version of the film is believed to have been lost.
Ten Minutes to Live is another 1932 Micheaux film. A movie producer offers a nightclub singer a role in his latest film, but all he really wants to do is bed her. She knows, but accepts anyway. Meanwhile, a patron at the club gets a note saying that she'll soon get another note, and that she will be killed ten minutes after that.
Micheaux's films were coined during a time of great change in the African-American community. His films featured contemporary black life. He dealt with racial relationships between blacks and whites, and the challenges for blacks when trying to achieve success in the larger society. Micheaux films were used to oppose and discuss the racial injustice that African Americans received. Topics such as lynching, job discrimination, rape, mob violence, and economic exploitation were depicted in his films. These films also reflect his ideologies and autobiographical experiences. The journalist Richard Gehr said, “Micheaux appears to have only one story to tell, his own, and he tells it repeatedly”.
Micheaux sought to create films that would counter white portrayals of African Americans, which tended to emphasize inferior stereotypes. He created complex characters of different classes. His films questioned the value system of both African American and white communities as well as caused problems with the press and state censors
The critic Lupack described Micheaux as pursuing moderation with his films and creating a “middle-class cinema”. His works were designed to appeal to both middle- and lower-class audiences.
“My results…might have been narrow at times, due perhaps to certain limited situations, which I endeavored to portray, but in those limited situations, the truth was the predominate characteristic. It is only by presenting those portions of the race portrayed in my pictures, in the light and background of their true state, that we can raise our people to greater heights. I am too imbued with the spirit of Booker T. Washington to engraft false virtues upon ourselves, to make ourselves that which we are not.”
Micheaux died on March 25, 1951, in Charlotte, North Carolina, of heart failure. He is buried in Great Bend Cemetery in Great Bend, Kansas, the home of his youth. His gravestone reads: "A man ahead of his time".
Catherine L. Hughes, more commonly known as "Cathy" Hughes is an entrepreneur, radio and television personality, and business executive.
Hughes founded the media company Radio One, and when the company went public in 1999, she became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation.
Cathy Hughes was born Catherine Elizabeth Woods on April 22, 1947, to Helen Jones Woods, a trombonist with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and William Alfred Woods, who was the first African-American to earn an accounting degree from Creighton University.
The family lived in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects while Hughes' father attended college. Hughes attended University of Nebraska-Omaha and Creighton University, her father's alma mater, but never completed her degree.
Cathy Hughes became pregnant at age 16, her friends said her life was over. Her mother kicked her out of the house. Hughes said she “was in shock.” Pregnancy “was the beginning,” Hughes said. The birth of her son, Alfred Liggins, was “an impetus to achieve,” “It was the reason I took my life seriously for the first time as a teenager and made a promise to myself, my son and God that he would not become a black statistic.”
In the 1970s, Hughes created the urban radio format called "The Quiet Storm" on Howard University's radio station WHUR with disc jockey and fellow Howard student Melvin Lindsay.
Before radio, in the mid-1960s, Hughes worked for an African American newspaper called the Omaha Star. Hughes began her career in 1969 at KOWH in Omaha but left for Washington, D.C. after she was offered a job as a lecturer at the School of Communications at Howard University.
In 1973, she became General Sales Manager of the university's radio station, WHUR-FM, increasing station revenue from $250,000 to $3 million in her first year. In 1975, Hughes became the first woman Vice President and General Manager of a station in the nation’s capital and created the format known as the “Quiet Storm,” which revolutionized urban radio and was aired on over 480 stations nationwide.
In 1980, Hughes founded Radio One, and with then-husband, Dewey Hughes, bought AM radio station WOL 1450 in Washington, D.C. After the previous employees had destroyed the facility,she faced financial difficulties and subsequently lost her home and moved with her young son to live at the station. Her fortunes began to change when she revamped the R&B station to a 24-hour talk radio format with the theme, “Information is Power.” Hughes served as the station's Morning Show Host for 11 years. WOL is still the most listened to talk radio station in the nation’s capital.
Cathy's son Alfred joined the company in 1985 as a salesman and by 1989 Alfred had risen to president. Cathy credits Alfred's leadership and vision as the driving force that took the company public and grew it into the media powerhouse it is today.
Radio One went on to own 70 radio stations in nine major markets in the U.S. In 1999, Radio One became a publicly traded company, listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. As of 2007, Hughes's son, Alfred Liggins, III, serves as CEO and president of Radio One, and Hughes as chairperson. Hughes is also a minority owner of BET industries.
In January 2004, Radio One launched TV One, a national cable and satellite television network which bills itself as the "lifestyle and entertainment network for African-American adults." Hughes interviews prominent personalities, usually in the entertainment industry, for the network's talk program TV One on One.
Both Cathy Hughes and her son, Alfred Liggins have been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the company Ernst & Young. She is a notable member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
In 2015, a local business organization unofficially named the corner of 4th Street and H Street NE in Washington, D.C. “Cathy Hughes Corner”.
We've included 21 full-length movies you can watch now on your computer or device and 12 additional movie trailer recommendations to watch during black history month and beyond. Unfortunately, we cannot possibly list every good move related to black history and there are plenty of excellent movies not included on this list. However, we hope you discover something new and enjoy watching.
Full Movies Which Were Available on the Date of Publication
The Vernon Johns Story (1994 Full Movie)
Vernon Johns (April 22, 1892 – June 11, 1965) was an American minister at several black churches in the South. He is best known as the pastor 1947-52 of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama. He was succeeded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The video has been deleted, trailer now shown below.
King (1978 Full Movie)
King was a television miniseries based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. It aired for three consecutive nights on NBC from February 12 through 14, 1978.
The Rosa Parks Story 2002
Something the Lord Made (2004 Full Movie)
Based on the true story of Vivien Thomas, a carpenter that wanted to be a doctor, unable to attend college he works for a real doctor as a janitor. Realizing what this young man is capable of the doctor gives him real tasks and as a team, they go to conquer what other people thought impossible. Based on a true story. Vivien Thomas became a black cardiac pioneer and his complex and volatile partnership with white surgeon Alfred Blalock, the world famous "Blue Baby doctor" who pioneered modern heart surgery.
Keep the Faith, Baby – Adam Clayton Powell Movie 2002
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (November 29, 1908 – April 4, 1972) was a Baptist pastor and an American politician, who represented Harlem, New York City, in the United States House of Representatives (1945–71). He was the first person of African-American descent to be elected from New York to Congress. Oscar Stanton De Priest of Illinois was the first black person to be elected to Congress in the 20th century; Powell was the fourth. Re-elected for nearly three decades, Powell became a powerful national politician of the Democratic Party and served as a national spokesman on civil rights and social issues.
Deacons for Defense 2003
The Deacons for Defense and Justice was an armed self-defense group of African-Americans that protected civil rights organizations in the U.S. Southern states during the 1960s.
The Tuskegee Airmen 1995
The Tuskegee Airmen was a group of the first African-American military aviators (fighter and bomber) in the United States Armed Forces who fought in World War II. Officially, they formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. All black World War II military pilots who trained in the United States trained at Moton Field, the Tuskegee Army Air Field, and were educated at Tuskegee University, located near Tuskegee, Alabama.
Ghost of Mississippi 1996
A Mississippi district attorney and the widow of Medgar Evers struggle to finally bring a white racist to justice for the 1963 murder of the civil rights leader. Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was a black civil rights activist from Mississippi who worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and to enact social justice and voting rights. He was killed by a white segregationist.
In October of 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was created in response to challenge police brutality in Oakland.
The Marva Collins Story 1981
Marva Delores Collins (August 31, 1936 – June 24, 2015) was an American educator who started the highly successful Westside Preparatory School in the impoverished Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago in 1975.
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge 1999
Dorothy Jean Dandridge (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was an American film and theater actress, singer and dancer. She is perhaps best known for being the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen Jones
The Josephine Baker Story 1991
Josephine Baker, born in St. Louis, MO, was a singer and entertainer who skyrocketed to international fame as a performer in Paris. Baker renounced her U.S. citizenship because of racism and became a French national and war hero during WWII.
The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992)
Based upon the history of the Jackson family, one of the most successful musical families in show business, and the early and successful years of the popular Motown group The Jackson 5.
The Temptations 1998
Biography of the singers who formed the hit Motown musical act, The Temptations.
Miss Evers Boys
The true story of the U.S. Government's 1932 Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, in which members of a group of black test subjects were allowed to die, despite a cure having been developed.
The Jackie Robinson Story 1950
Biography of Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player in the 20th century. Traces his career in the Negro Leagues and the major leagues.
The Spook Who Sat By the Door 1973
A black man plays Uncle Tom in order to gain access to CIA training, then uses that knowledge to provide tactical training to street gang members to plot a Black American Revolution.
About a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers in Louisiana in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, facing a serious family crisis when the husband and father, is convicted of a petty crime and sent to a prison camp.
A Woman Called Moses 1978
Based on the life of Harriet Tubman, the escaped African American slave who helped to organize the Underground Railroad, and who led dozens of African Americans from enslavement in the Southern United States to freedom in the Northern states and Canada.
The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles.
A fictionalized account of the gang war between the Italian/Jewish mafia alliance and the Black gangsters of Harlem that took place in the late 1920s and early 1930s based on real events and characters. The film concentrated on Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson (Laurence Fishburne), Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth), and Lucky Luciano.
The video has been deleted, trailer now shown below.
12 Black Movie Trailers to Stream or Rent
Based on historic events of the 1923 Rosewood massacre in Florida, when a racist white lynch mob killed blacks and destroyed their black community.
Based on the true story of the 1839 mutiny aboard the slave ship La Amistad, during which Mende tribesmen abducted for the slave trade managed to gain control of their captors' ship off the coast of Cuba, and the international legal battle that followed their capture by a U.S. revenue cutter. The case was ultimately resolved by the United States Supreme Court in 1841.
Roots was an American television miniseries based on Alex Haley's 1976 novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family; the series first aired on ABC-TV in January 1977. (Goodbye Uncle Tom is another 70s Slave Movie which was virtually banned from the U.S.)
Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film about female African-American mathematicians at NASA.
Malcolm X 1992
Malcolm X is a biographical drama about key events in Malcolm X's life: defining childhood incidents, his criminal career, his incarceration, his conversion to Islam, his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam and his later falling out with the organization, his marriage, his pilgrimage to Mecca, and his assassination on February 21, 1965.
American Violet 2008
A single mother struggles to clear her name after being wrongly accused and arrested for dealing drugs in an impoverished town in Texas.
Based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th century England.
A Soldier's Story 1984
Not a true story, but an excellent look at the what was at stake for black people through the lens of the perceived humanity of our black soldiers.
The film is about one of the first military units of the Union Army during the American Civil War to be made up entirely of African-American men (except for its officers), as told from the point of view of Colonel Shaw, its white commanding officer.
The Cotton Club 1984
The Cotton Club was a famous night club in Harlem. The story follows the people that visited the club, those that ran it, and is peppered with the Jazz music that made it so famous. The Cotton Club was whites only but featured all black entertainment during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.
Mississippi Burning 1988
Two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.
The Retrieval 2013
A fatherless 13-year-old black boy, who survives by working with a white bounty hunter gang who sends him to earn the trust of runaway slaves and wanted black men.
I dropped off my son and his girlfriend, both 17-year-old high school seniors, at the AMC Esquire movie theatre on Clayton Road about 4:45 p.m. Sunday, October 16, 2016.
When they tried to purchase tickets to see the 5 p.m. showing of Kevin Hart's movie "What Now?", they were asked for ID and then told that they needed to be 18 to see any movie starting at or after 5 p.m.
My son then purchased tickets for "The Girl on a Train" (start time 4:45 p.m.), however, this was not by choice. This couple's choices had been unfairly restricted by using all too familiar tactic. After my son and his girlfriend left the movie, they went to St. Louis Bread Company where I picked them up. When I inquired about the movie, they told me about the situation.
Those familiar with this site understand how serious I am about protecting my rights; so you can imagine how upset I was when I discovered that my son had been mistreated, especially while spending his money. I felt as if the clock had been set back and my son was forced into a symbolic back of the bus. My 17-year-old son did not have the legal savvy to challenge the person behind the ticket booth, but that will soon be corrected.
I was also upset because movies about and featuring black people are increasing, but situations such as this dilute the box office numbers for those movies. If anyone knows Kevin Hart, please let him know so his team can investigate if there's an effort to divert box office ticket sales to other movies. Years ago movie-goers who asked to purchase tickets to black movies were sold tickets to white movies. They were allowed to use those tickets to see the movie of their choice, but the ticket sales were credited to other movies. In fact, my last post was about another movie featuring black people, "Birth of a Nation".
I visited several pages on AMC's website including "ratings information", but did not find a policy listed that customers have to be 18 or older after 5. Here's what I found:
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age 21 or older)"
"For R-Rated Films: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age 21 or older) and 25 years and under must show ID. And children under the age of 6 are not allowed after 6:00pm."
I will be contacting AMC for their response, but I would like to know if anyone else has had this experienced. Please contact us if you have. We are also asking our white readers to report if they are being asked for IDs when they visit AMC theatres or if white teens have been told 18 or older after 5 p.m. If we discover that this is a systemic form of discrimination, we will organize an information picket outside the theatre on the public right of way.
I contacted AMC using their website contact page early yesterday morning, Monday, October 17th. By 2 p.m. today, Tuesday, October 18th, I had not received a reply, so I phoned the number listed on the AMC Theatre website 888-440-4262. When I inquired about the 18 after 5 pm policy, the person I spoke with gave conflicting and evasive answers and suggested that I contact the specific theatre location and provided me the phone number (314-781-9017) to the Esquire located at 6706 Clayton Road, Saint Louis, MO 63117.
I spoke with the Esquire's manager who directed me to the Esquire's Web Page. When you scroll down near the bottom of that page, there is a boxed off section "Other Policies". The last link in that section is "Parental Escort Policy (Under 18 after 5)" which states:
"Minors Under 18 Must Be Accompanied by a Guardian Over 21 After 5 p.m. This policy is for the safety and comfort of all guests. Picture ID is required for films starting at 5 p.m. or later."
However, the Esquire is the only theatre in the St. Louis area that has this policy. Every other theatre instead of having a "Parental Escort Policy" has an "Age Policy for R-Rated Films" which states:
"Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian (age 21 or older). Guests 25 years and under must show ID. We restrict children younger than 6 from attending R-Rated films after 6pm to improve the experience for everyone. To bring your children younger than 6 to R-Rated films, please visit us before 6pm."
For whatever reason, AMC or the managment at the Esquire believes it's okay to deny patrons of the Esquire the same access privileges that are enjoyed at every other St. Louis area theatre. The manager that I spoke with mentioned how their policy was similar to the Galleria Mall's curfew, but that policy only applies to minors 16 and under not 17.
I purchase AMC movie passes from Sam's Club and insert in greeting card as gifts, but I will end that practice. The next time my son wants to go to a movie theatre, he'll go to one of the St. Louis Cinema locations or 24:1 Cinema. If AMC doesn't believe my son deserves the same access to the theatre closest to our home, they don't deserve our money. I hope those of you reading this feel the same way. If so let AMC know.
60 Minutes recently aired an interview with Nate Parker, the producer, director and star of the movie "Birth of a Nation" about Nat Turner and the slave rebellion he led in 1831 in Southampton County, Virginia where approximately 60 white people were killed and more than 200 slaves and blacks were killed in retaliation.
The interview took an unexpectant turn when the focus shifted from the movie's historical significance to unfounded allegations from Parker's college days. Nate Parker has accumulated 24 movie and tv credits since 2004, but now that he has produced a movie depicting a slave as a hero for killing white slave owners in retaliation for the injustice and oppression they inflicted; Parker has become the victim of character assassination by media outlets who are resurfacing allegations of rape from almost two decades ago.
Parker and Jean Celestin, who co-wrote "Birth of a Nation" were teammates on the Penn State wrestling team in 1999 when a white female student claimed she was intoxicated and therefore could not have given consent when she had sex with them. Both Parker and Celestin claimed the sex was consensual.
As we mentioned in our post about Bill Cosby, false allegations of rape, especially the alleged rape of white women have historically devasted black communities all across America.
Ironically, the myth of black men lusting after white women was perpetuated by the 1915 D.W. Griffith film that Nate Parker borrowed the title of his film from. The original 1915 "Birth of a Nation" glorified the Ku Klux Klan and portrayed black men as unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women. "I reclaimed the title and re-purposed it as a tool to challenge racism and white supremacy in America," Parker stated. Because of the 1915 film, membership in the Klan, which included doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers and ministers, exploded to about 6 million by the mid-1920s. The CEO of AT&T who recently voiced support for Black Lives Matter mentioned how his friend talked about Southern Baptist church deacons being members of the klan.
The accuser admitted she and Parker had previously engaged in consensual sex and Nate Parker was exonerated by a nearly all-white (11 white and one black woman) jury at trial. Celestin was found guilty and appealed, prosecutors later dropped the case. The evidence must have been overwhelmingly in Parker's favor for a nearly all-white jury to acquit a black athlete accused of raping a white woman. The town where the alleged rape occurred, was 83.2 percent white and 3.8 percent Black. The town where the trial took place — Bellefonte Courthouse, Pennsylvania — was 96.3 percent white and 1.5 percent Black. Do you really believe a mostly all-white jury would have let a guilty black rapist off?
Former Penn State classmates also believe Nate Parker was falsely accused. They provided copies of relevant court documents that support their belief in Parker's innocence. The documents are located at factchecktoday.
How many black men and boys (Emmett Till) have been destroyed by false allegations concerning white women? After a nearly all-white jury, determined Nate Parker was not guilty of rape, it was irresponsible for Anderson Cooper to imply Parker was guilty by asking if he was sorry. Sorry for what? Being falsely accused of rape!
Initially, there was Oscar buzz about "Birth of a Nation," but it died down after the Hollywood Reporter quoted members of the Academy who admitted that the controversy had made them less likely to vote for the film – or even watch it. I plan to watch it and I encourage everyone else to see this film as well.
We have been brainwashed by propaganda disguised as history. We celebrate slaveholding founding fathers as liberators, an independence day that was never intended to include us and we even have a holiday for one of history's worst proponents of slavery, Christopher Columbus.
Evidently, mass incarceration of Black men is not enough, even after we've been exonerated in a court of law, we can still be targeted and destroyed by simply bringing up false allegations. Nate Parker was on the path of becoming a great producer, director, and actor, possibly achieving a financial success on par with Tyler Perry. Isn't it strange that when Parker was making films produced by white men, rape allegations didn't surface then?
Personally, I want to see more films like "Birth of a Nation" produced. However, those attacking Parker, if successful, will point to low attendance to prevent future films such as this from being produced in the future. They will say Black people aren't interested in films about their history. These films employ black actors and actresses and tell our story from our point of view.
History has often recorded the successes and achievements a black people are attacked and destroyed because of fear, jealousy, and hate. When we speak out about injustice and oppression in this country, there is a narrative that we are somehow unpatriotic. For example, when Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem, the attempted character assassination against him was that he was disrespecting the military and the flag. There is no greater respect a person can display for the concept of freedom and justice than to stand up against those oppressing others. We must stop letting others determine who our heroes are and who we should or shouldn't support!
Alicia Keys and an A-list roster of celebrities including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Adam Levine, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Pink, Chris Rock, Bono, and others, are demanding change and explain why it's time to take action to heal the long history of systemic racism in America.
This year’s “ESPY Awards” which aired on ABC yesterday, opened with NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James delivering a message regarding last week’s death of two African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement, and the Dallas attack on police officers that left five dead and several others injured.
ESPY Award (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) is presented to recognize individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the previous calendar year.
Muhammad Ali was honored during the Espy's.
On July 13th, during the ESPY awards gave a tribute to Muhammad Ali the boxing great an humanitarian who passed away on June 3rd of this year. Ali's tribute was a hightlight of the In Memoriam portion of the show. Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke about his friend and said that Ali had the ability to make the impossible seem real and he also said, "Every athlete handles fame in their own way. Some people revel in it. Some people aren't so comfortable with it. Muhammad Ali used it to speak his mind." Kareem said that he hopes that other atheletes will take notice of the legend and remember what it is that made him "The Greatest". Chance gave a musical tribute after Kareem's statement.
Kareem Abjul-Jabbar and Chance The Rapper Honor Muhammad Ali at 2016 ESPY Awards
I am certain the attention and reflection of Muhammad Ali's life after his death has inspired many atheletes and entertainers to take a stand and speak out about injustice motivated by the Greatest's extrodinary example. See, "Muhammad Ali's Memorial Service – Tributes of Greatness".
I am happy to see a new generation of black artists and entertainers finally stepping up and speaking out against injustice and oppression. In the spirit of Muhammad Ali, these entertainers are now using their celebrity status to speak out against police brutality, racism, and other social ills. The latest example was shown at the 2016 BET Awards.
The highlight of the evening was the moving Humanitarian Award acceptance speech delivered by Jessie Williams. Williams is a former teacher who plays the role of Dr. Jackson Avery on "Grey's Anatomy and his speech emphasized racial injustice, police brutality, and cultural appropriation. Watch and listen to Williams full acceptance speech below.
Williams is on the board of The Advancement Project, civil rights think tank and advocacy group. Williams participate in Ferguson October in 2014 to protest the killing of Michael Brown. He is also the executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a multifaceted media project, art exhibition, student, and teacher curriculum and website, focused on the black male identity and the diversity within the demographic. He has written articles for CNN and The Huffington Post and has been a guest on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room.
Full text of Williams Speech
“This award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students, that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.
All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics:, the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize. Now this is also in particular for the black women, in particular, who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.
Now — I’ve got more, y’all. Yesterday would’ve been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday, so I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012 than 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.
Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money, that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to get money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body, when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.
There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done, there’s been no tax they haven’t levied against us, and we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. “You’re free,” they keep telling us. But she would’ve been alive if she hadn’t acted so… “free.”
Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter. But, you know what, though? The hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight, just a little side note: The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job, all right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.
We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and we’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil, black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is that just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar
Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar gave an outstanding opening performance at the BET Awards that set the tone for the rest of the evening. The video is below.
Many entertainers want to speak out, but some are afraid of the repercussions, that's why your support is important and needed more than ever. As these artists become more vocal about the injustice and oppression in our community, there will be backlash and allegations lodged against them, maybe similar to the media attack of Bill Cosby. In the future, if some of our more vocal entertainers are targeted by negative propaganda, allegations, and comments, use your critical thinking skills before automatically believing allegations simply because they appear in mass media.
When our artists are unfairly targeted, we need to not only support them but we need to stand up against and boycott those companies and institutions involved. My eyes were further opened this spring when companies spoke out and some were threatening to boycott Georgia and North Caroline because of proposed religious freedom laws that would have impacted the LGBT communities. Those companies did the right thing, but that's when I realized they did the wrong thing when they didn't speak up about stop and frisk, police killings of unarmed people and other injustice. In the future when businesses the black community supports doesn't support us back, stop supporting them. You don't need a formal boycott or movement. When a company isn't doing what you think they should do, just stop doing business with that company and send them a note stating why you stopped doing business with them, otherwise, they'll never know.
Since part of this site's mission is historical balance, I thought it might be good idea to list some Black Christmas movies. The last five movies are the actual full length movies, enjoy!
THE PREACHER’S WIFE (1997)
Good natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all this, his church is coming under threat from property developer Joe Hamilton. In desperation, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help – and help arrives in the form of an angel named Dudley.
LAST HOLIDAY (2006)
Upon learning of a terminal illness, a shy woman (Queen Latifah) decides to sell off all her possessions and live it up at a posh European hotel.
THIS CHRISTMAS (2007)
A Christmastime drama centered around the Whitfield family's first holiday together in four years.
THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY (2013)
When college friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays, they discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be reignited.
BLACK NATIVITY (2013)
A street-wise teen from Baltimore who has been raised by a single mother travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives, where he embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey.
THE PERFECT HOLIDAY (2007)
A young girl turns to a department store Santa in the hopes that he will help find a new husband for her divorced mother.
A MADEA CHRISTMAS (2013)
Madea dispenses her unique form of holiday spirit on rural town when she's coaxed into helping a friend pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas.
Dear Secret Santa (2013)
Beverly Hills banker/workaholic JENNIFER comes home to her small Northern California town just before Christmas when her dad, TED , takes a bad fall while putting up decorations. While home, Jenny begins getting romantic Christmas cards from an unknown admirer, who turns out to be her old neighbor and the unrealized love of her life, JACK. There's just one problem- Jack died in a car accident three years ago.
HOLIDAY HEART (2000)
A drag queen takes in a drug addict and her daughter and helps raise the daughter.
THE KID WHO LOVED CHRISTMAS (1990)
A Chicago jazz musician seeking to adopt a young boy after his wife is killed in a car accident has to deal with a large amount of conflict with those who could approve the adoption, along with an offer to play in New Orleans.
A DREAM FOR CHRISTMAS (1973)
Click image to watch movie
A Southern minister is assigned to a poor church in California where the congregation is drifting away and the church itself is scheduled for demolition.
A DIVA’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (2000)
When an ego-driven superstar (Vanessa L. Williams) loses her holiday spirit, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future visit her.