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Black History Month inspired documentaries

Grainy image of Marcus Garvey

Let Black History Month inspire you with these documentaries available for free on our Kanopy service.

Black Nationalist pioneer and First Hero of Jamaica, Marcus Garvey is discussed by contemporaries, historians, family and friends. The film traces his early successes in organizing West Indian contract labor, to the phenomenal rise of his Universal Negro Improvement Association, which took America by storm in the 20s.

Filmmaker Daphne Valerius's award-winning documentary THE SOULS OF BLACK GIRLS explores how media images of beauty undercut the self-esteem of African-American women. Valerius surveys the dominant white, light-skinned, and thin ideals of beauty that circulate in the culture, from fashion magazines to film and music video, and talks with African-American girls and women about how these images affect the way they see themselves.

Vilified by conservatives in Congress, defended by major newspapers, and celebrated by audiences and festivals around the world as one of the most provocative, humorous and important filmmakers of our time, Cheryl Dunye practically invented a new form of cinema - call it the 'Dunyementary.'

Presented here are the films that started it all - the early works which gave birth to an extraordinary and original filmmaking talent. Made with great creativity on often miniscule budgets, they represent the first chapter of the Cheryl Dunye oeuvre. Films in this collection include, GREETINGS FROM AFRICA, THE POTLUCK AND THE PASSION, AN UNTITLED PORTRAIT, VANILLA SEX, SHE DON'T FADE, and JANINE.

An award-winning documentary film about lynching in the American South. Filmed on-location at lynching sites in six states and bolstered by the memories and perspectives of descendants, community activists, and scholars, this unusual historical documentary seeks to educate even as it serves as a hub for action to remember and reflect upon a long-hidden past.

Inspired by the groundbreaking book of the same name by Monique W. Morris, Ed.D, PUSHOUT: THE CRIMINALIZATION OF BLACK GIRLS IN SCHOOLS, takes a deep dive into the lives of Black girls and the practices, cultural beliefs and policies that disrupts one of the most important factors in their lives - education. Alarmingly, African American girls are the fastest-growing population in the juvenile justice system and the only group of girls to disproportionately experience criminalization at every education level.

In his 1944 study of the 'Negro Problem' in America, Gunnar Myrdal posed a simple, disturbing question: How can Americans espouse a belief in liberty, equality and equal opportunity while enabling openly racist Jim Crow practices against black citizens? American Denial uses 'the Myrdal question' to probe and expose the power of denial and unconscious bias in what some have called a 'post-racial' America. The film's narrative cross-cuts between past and present, between Myrdal's investigation --and his own personal struggle with denial-- and 21st century stories of racial injustice that we overlook while insisting on the preeminence of the ideals of liberty, justice and equality.

This documentary welcomes dialogue around racial inequality, policing, and the Criminal Justice System by focusing on Eric Garners case. We hope viewers will increase their understanding of issues plaguing Black and Brown Communities by witnessing a massive group of protesters unite for the purpose of justice.

Footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists documenting the Black Power Movement in the United States is edited together in this powerful documentary.