Past Urban Films Remain Relevant

Most of us will agree that the movie industry is not what it used to be. Many films from days long gone are being remade. Comic book movies are being made every summer. In my opinion this shows a startling lack of creativity or imagination. (Those of you familiar with my blog know I have stated this before.)

Black films and films starring a predominantly black cast have been especially pathetic. There are very few movies that show the current state of Black people while showing how Black people can move forward.

It seems that I have taken for granted some of the culturally iconic movies that I grew up with. I believe that many of today’s urban youth will find many of these movies equally relevant. These are some of my favorite urban films that still resonate today.

These films are listed in date order.

Hollywood Shuffle

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood.

School Daze (1988)
A musical-drama film, written and directed by Spike Lee. It is a story about fraternity and sorority members clashing with other students at a historically black college during homecoming weekend. It also touches upon issues of real and perceived racism within the African-American community.

Stand and Deliver (1988)
Based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher at East Los Angeles’ Garfield High, who refused to write off his inner-city students as losers. Escalante cajoled, pushed, threatened and inspired 18 kids who struggled with fractions to become math wizards.

Lean On Me (1989)
Lean on me is the true story of high school Principal Joe Clark, who armed himself with a bullhorn and a Louisville slugger. Brought in to save the school, he chained the doors to keep trouble makers out and strivers in. Some parents and teachers fought him. But many kids loved him.

Do The Right Thing (1989)
On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone has their own issues to deal with and tensions between Blacks and Italians rise. Issues of pride and prejudice, justice and inequity come to the surface as hate and bigotry smolder–finally building into a crescendo as it explodes into violence.

Boyz in the Hood (1991)
Three black male teens come-of-age in the gang “war zones” of South Central Los Angeles.

South Central (1992)
A man is put to prison for 10 years. Coming out of prison he wants to live a normal life and stop with crime but his son has followed his criminal path.

Menace II Society (1993)
A story about everyday life in Watts as seen through the eyes of a young street teenager who is trying to overcome his bleak surroundings. He attempts to escape the rigors and temptations of the ‘hood’ in a quest for a better life.

Higher Learning

Higher Learning (1995)
Three freshman students embark on their first semester at fictitious Columbus University, where, in addition to normal adolescent problems, they’re also confronted with serious prejudice, intolerance, racism and sexism among the student body.

Bamboozled (2000)
A frustrated, Harvard-educated, African American man who is the sole person of color writing for an upstart network with floundering ratings proposes a blackface minstrel show in protest, but to his chagrin it becomes a hit.

This list is not exhaustive. Let me know what I missed.


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