Essential Civil Rights Cinema

The soul-crushing events of this week, including the horrifying deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Louisiana and Minnesota after fatal encounters with police, have spurred violent and deadly protests (condemned by the Black Lives Matter movement), and further discussions about police force and racial profiling.

These ongoing civil rights debates have shaped the movies for decades — in many cases, reinforcing racial biases against black men and women and censoring the conversation altogether. But there is a history of civil rights cinema that addresses this difficult subject in documentary and dramatic form, offering a thought-provoking and in-depth view of the continuing fight for equality amongst African-Americans. Here are just a few of those films.