3 films with compelling stories you should watch for Black History Month

Posted on: 10 October 2023 by Heather Donlon in 2023 posts

Hidden Figures cast at the Kennedy Space Center
Hidden Figures cast at the Kennedy Space Center

In this blog post by final year History and Film studies student, Heather Donlon, we'll journey through 'The Woman King,' 'Till,' and 'Hidden Figures,' celebrating the remarkable contributions and stories of Black women.

The Woman King – Directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood – 2022

As we celebrate our empowering sisters during this Black History Month, my thoughts on the film The Woman King remind me of the countless untold stories waiting to be unearthed and shared.

Viola Davis, the star of the film, challenges the traditional narratives that often exclude or diminish the achievements of Black women. She highlights their invaluable role in reshaping societies through resilience and unwavering determination. In doing so, she sparks crucial discussions about the erasure of Black women's contributions and the need to amplify their voices in our collective understanding of history. Overall, the film powerfully educates us about the contributions and sacrifices made by countless incredible Black women throughout history.

Till – Directed by Chinonye Chukwu - 2023

The film Till is centred around Mamie, based on the real-life mother of Emmett Till, who was horrifically murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Watching Till, I was completely drawn into the depths of a mother's suffering, and her relentless pursuit of truth and equality for the Black community. Mamie establishes herself as a symbol of resilience and justice through her pain and perseverance.

What truly stood out for me was how the film skillfully takes us on a journey through this dark period using engrossing narratives and visuals. It prompts discussions on racial harmony, responsibility, and the significance of seeking justice for victims of hate crimes. This powerful story of an exceptional Black woman and Mamie's brave influence during these troubled times compelled me to write about it.

Hidden Figures – Directed by Theodore Melfi - 2016

When I first watched Hidden Figures, I knew we could all relate to this amazing story, especially during this month dedicated to Black history. It details the outstanding contributions made by Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Katherine Johnson to NASA's success in the space race.

Among them, Katherine Johnson, the mathematician, was the most inspirational figure to me. She used her tenacity and wit while placed in an all-white space group, facing numerous challenges because of her race and gender. Her powerful portrayal of the enormous achievements of African American women, and their profound impact, is not only educational but also moving. It serves as a motivating tale for all of us, especially young women.

Katherine Johnson outside the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility