Cinema is a powerful tool, and Black folks have BEEN out here mastering the art!

In this week’s episode of Unsung Presents: Best in Black, we take a closer look at the movies we all grew up on and will forever appreciate as key cultural moments.

All of the films on our list below hold their own when it comes to being a Black classic. But, tell us your favorite! And get ready to travel back in time, as we take you to school and explore these iconic films!

1. Shaft (1971)


Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

First on the list is the one and only Shaft!

If you grew up watching Black films, then you already know the significance of this film.

Shaft still holds an incredible amount of cultural influence, as the 1971 film established the blaxploitation genre and first sparked mainstream Hollywood’s interest in developing and gaining a large black audience.

Its star, Richard Roundtree is a no-nonsense man, who stood up for what was right and everyone still loves him. Shaft will forever have lasting impact on the culture from the music, fashion, and iconic lines.

We will forever love Shaft, its sequels, and its remakes!

2. Cooley High (1975)

Next on our list is the legendary Cooley High!

We love Cooley High for many reasons. The biggest: its a realistic coming-of-age tale that perfectly captured the essence of the then Chicago community and its youth.

Cooley High is iconic to the culture because the 1975 film started the shift in how Black lives were portrayed in film.

Besides who doesn’t consider the film to be one of Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs’ and Glynn Turman‘s top films?

3. Foxy Brown (1974)

We just love a Black woman taking charge! And Foxy Brown did just that!

In an era when few Black women were cast in prominent roles, the film Foxy Brown invented the concept of the female action hero and defied genre conventions— making its star Pam Grier an unforgettable star.

Foxy Brown ultimately altered what was seen to be African American womanhood, sexuality, and attractiveness, which resulted in a diversity of African American actresses to come afterwards.

4.  Coming to America (1988)

When it comes to showing Black excellence in its entirety, Coming to America DOES NOT disappoint!

We all know Eddie Murphy is a comic genius, and his gifts truly are shown as he plays the lovable character of Prince Akeem Joffer, and multiple characters. The talent doesn’t stop there. Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, and John Amos all hold their own adding to the nonstop laughter throughout the 1988 film.

Who is your favorite character and what is your favorite scene in Coming to America?

5.  The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple is one of the most touching movies that we as a community has seen!

The film has a significant influence on society and continues to send a strong message that black women’s histories need to be told and seen because they are also a part of African American history.

Steven Spielberg understood the assignment when he casted Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover in this movie!

Now if you want to laugh, cry, and experience every emotion in between, go watch The Color Purple!

6.  Boyz N the Hood (1991)

John Singleton’s breakout film Boyz ‘N the Hood will forever be a staple in cinema and for the culture!

Where do we even begin? For one, the 1991 film was tremendously ground-breaking, as it helped folks outside of the community confront systematic oppression, including the police, police brutality, poverty, and LA’s gang culture.

Boyz ‘N the Hood does an amazing job of showcasing a group of young guys who were victims of their surroundings. To this day we can’t help to cry over Ricky!

7. Waiting to Exhale (1995)

Waiting to Exhale had ALL of our mothers, grandmothers, and aunties in a chokehold!

The 1995 box office smash was one of a handful of films that gave voice to a plethora of Black women. Not to mention, it was spot on in showing what friendship and sisterhood means to Black women throughout the ups and downs of life.

We will forever STAN Angela Bassett’s, Loretta Divine’s, Lela Rochon’s, and the late Whitney Houston’s performances in this movie! Not to mention the official soundtrack!

8. ATL (2006)

This one is for our millennials!

Do we even have to explain the significance of ATL to the culture?

If you know, then you know… a forever CLASSIC.

Tell us your thoughts on our list! Be sure to watch Unsung Presents Best in Black: Movies this Sunday, April 30th at 9P/8C! And let us know what your favorite Black movie is below!

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