February 24, 2021

"More Than One Night In Miami" 

One of the many aspects of Black History Month (BHM) that I truly enjoy is the plethora of Black history, Black stories, and Black folks shown in movies and TV programs.  It should be noted that I am not a casual movie/documentary watcher.  I look for acting, writing, cinematography, directing, and more with a very critical eye. This month my wife and I have enjoyed a number of really good recently released documentaries and feature films.  And so, as an AABHE, PSA for BHM, we offer the following suggestions for your BHM (and more) viewing; first the feature films and then the documentaries.

“One Night in Miami” (2020) is award winning actress, Regina King’s directorial debut.  The story of a one-night encounter of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown showed the strength and shortcomings, but ultimately the strength of an amazing band of brothers. The way these larger-than-life men respected, challenged, and loved each other was great to see.  You rarely see a movie with a 98% from Rotten Tomatoes – so check this one out.  “Judas and The Black Messiah” (2021) stars LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya in the titular roles.  This riveting account of famed Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton’s development of the Chicago Black Panthers in the midst of heavy FBI surveillance and more is at once historical, educational, and emotional. You should watch it for all three experiences. 

“The Photograph” (2020) starring Issa Rae and the aforementioned Mr. Stanfield again. Twin love stories that span two generations of the main character’s family. Always wonderful to see Black people in love on film.  Did I say I like cinematography and writing? This movie abounds with both.  “Uncorked” (2020) featuring the highly underrated, Courtney B. Vance (who also had a small role in “The Photograph”), and Mamoudou Athie in leading roles. This father/son struggle over continuing the family business or studying to become one of the world’s very few master sommeliers (there are only 269 worldwide) is smartly acted and well directed. Fun fact: I didn’t know what a ‘sommelier’ was until I saw this movie.  

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“Mr. Soul” (2021, PBS) chronicles the journey of the first nationally broadcast all-Black variety show on public television, ‘Soul’.  It was hosted by a name we should know but, most of us do not, Ellis Haizlip.  Many performers and guests made national TV debuts on ‘Soul’ including folks like Arsenio Hall, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Earth Wind and Fire, Min. Louis Farrakhan, Kwame Ture, James Baldwin “and Nikki Giovanni just to name a few” “The Black Church: This Is Our Story” (2021, PBS)  This two-part Henry Louis Gates documentary takes an extensive look at the role the Black Church has played in American life and the lives of Black folks. It features amazing archival footage along with contemporary explorations of the Black Church.  “Black Art in the Absence of Light” (2021, HBO) Artists, curators, and historians review the infusion of black art and the future of black art in museums and private collections.  Beautiful and evocative works of art and the people responsible for creating and sharing these works are interviewed, including Kahinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, the artists who painted the official portraits of President and Mrs. Obama, respectively.

This Black History Month check out the above recommendations.  And if you have not seen them, add recent documentaries and movies like
“I Am Not Your Negro”, “Moonlight”, or “Just Mercy”.  And for nostalgia’s sake, you can pick from a catalog of Black representation ranging from “Cooley High” to “School Daze”.  Or you could just binge watch any movie with Sidney Poitier or Cicely Tyson in it.  You will not be disappointed.  But you gotta get your own popcorn.  Happy Black History Month!

“It’s all about the students”,

Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr
Dr. Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr.
President, AABHE


Our 2021 AABHE Virtual Annual Conference will be held March 15-16th.  We will be delivering as much of our regular annual conference content as we can possibly deliver in an engaging virtual format.  Nikki Giovanni is confirmed as our keynote speaker.  Additionally, great speakers, panels, sessions, awards, and even social events are all being planned.  “See you” next March…