On the beat

Movies to watch during Black History Month and beyond

More stories from Ashlie Fanetti


Graphic by Bethany Mennecke

February is Black History Month and one way to celebrate is by supporting or viewing content which celebrates Black stories.

The celebration doesn’t have to stop either. One can consume Black stories not only in February, but the rest of the year too. Lucky for us consumers, there’s plenty of content out there.

There is an extensive catalog of media out there to tell the stories of Black communities, but this week’s column will feature three critically acclaimed films set in different eras of Black history.

“The Help” (2011)

“The Help” is a book by Kathryn Stockett that was adapted into a film by director Tate Taylor. According to IMDb, the film stars a number of actresses including Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.

Set in 1960s Mississippi, “The Help” follows the main character Skeeter (Stone), a society girl, as she returns home from college with aspirations of becoming a writer. She decides her career-breaking story lies in the Black servants who work for the families in her town.

Throughout the film, viewers see Skeeter go through every emotion as she strives to tell the servant’s stories under the watchful and sometimes judgemental eye of the white society.

It offers a unique take on the stories of people of color during the Civil Rights Movement as it is told through both Skeeter, who is white, and the Black servants.

After its release, the film was widely acclaimed, picking up 90 award nominations and winning 36 including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 2012.

Connie Ogle of The Miami Herald gave the film three out of four stars in her review.

“The Help” will make you laugh, yes, but it can also break your heart. In the dog days of August moviegoing, that’s a powerful recommendation,” Ogle said.

“The Help” is available to rent on most movie renting platforms.

“The Hate U Give” (2018)

The Hate U Give” is a crime drama based on a book of the same name by Angie Thomas directed by George Tillman Jr. 

The film follows Starr (Amandla Stenberg), a high school student of color who goes to a predominantly white private school. When she witnesses her childhood friend die at the hands of the police, her world turns upside down.

As the film progresses we see Starr deal with pressures from all sides of her community as she finds her voice to stand up for what is right.

The movie tells a more modern Black story touching on police brutality targeting Black people. While it has always been an issue looking at Black History, it has made headlines in recent years, and the movie came out at the height of it all.

Speaking with W Magazine, Stenberg spoke about the emotional impact of the film and the emotion she felt while filming.

“I was hella emotional the whole time,” Stenberg said. “I cried every day, whether during a scene or off-camera but still on set.”

The film is available to rent or buy on many well-known streaming platforms.

“BlackkKlansman” (2018)

BlacKkKlansman” is a historical drama directed by Spike Lee that is based on the true experiences of Ron Stallworth.

Stallworth was a newly hired police officer for the Colorado Springs Police Department in 1972 who also happened to be the department’s only Black cop. The film chronicles Stallworth as he manages to infiltrate his local branch of the Ku Klux Klan.

Stallworth does so by building a connection with David Duke, who would eventually become the leader of the KKK.

“BlackkKlansman” is unique to the previous two movies discussed as it is based on a true story and provides a little insight into how white supremacy affects people of color, from the perspective of someone who experienced it.

The film is a biographical drama with comedy laced throughout. It is available to rent or buy on many well-known streaming platforms.

UW-Eau Claire students can access the film for free on MyTV10.

Happy Black History Month and happy streaming.

Fanetti can be reached [email protected]