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African American Literature & the Arts

I am Not Your Negro (2016)

Directed by Raoul Peck. Using James Baldwin's unfinished final manuscript, Remember This House, this documentary follows the lives and successive assassinations of three of the author's friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., delving into the legacy of these iconic figures and narrating historic events using Baldwin's original words and a flood of rich archival material.

I Shall Not Be Removed: The Life of Marlon Riggs.

A film biography of Marlon Riggs, the gifted, gay, black filmmaker who produced documentary films addressing issues of identity among Afro-Americans and gays. Clips from his films show how he evolved a unique experimental documentary style, mixing poetry, criticism, the personal and the political. It also documents his long battle against AIDS until his death in 1994 and includes interviews with family, friends, and co-workers. 58 min.
web web sites:Description from California Newsreel catalog

I'll Make Me a World. 1999. 57 min. each installment

Awards American Library Association Video Round Table: Notable Videos for Adults Lift Every Vice: 1900-1924. Looks at the trials and tribulations of the first generation of African-Americans born into freedom, focusing on the contributions of this generation to the arts and to the birth of jazz... specifically, Bert Williams and George Walker in vaudeville; Oscar Micheaux in film; and many other early Afro-American performers. Without Fear or Shame: 1920-1937. This program discusses the lives of African-American leaders W.E.B DuBois, A.

In Black & White

Using archival newsreels, feature film footage and interviews with Afro-American actors and directors, this film explores the inception, struggle, suppression, and survival of the Black Cinema from the 1920s through the 1950s. This detailed documentary, a stinging indictment of racism in the arts and in American culture, examines the lives and influence of Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, Oscar Micheaux, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Marcus Garvey and many others on Afro-American cinema. Dist.: Films Media Group. 1992. 92 min.

International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

Focuses on the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female multi-racial jazz band of postdepression years with a strong brass section, heavy percussion and a deep rhythmic sense. Includes interviews with former band members, other musicians, and fans. Directed by Greta Schiller, Andrea Weiss. Dist.: Cinema Guild 30 min. .

Know Your Enemy.

Using video animation and a collage of stills film examines the controversy surrounding politically or socially offensive lyrics in "hip-hop" and rap music. A film by Art Jones. Dist. Third World Newsreel. 27 min.


It is Hollywood's favorite role for black women: the maid. Sassy or sweet, snickeringly attentive or flippantly dismissive, the performers who play them steal every scene they are in, and this entertaining video collage reveals the narrow margin Hollywood has allowed black actresses to shine in. But shine they do. Giving lip is proven an art form in these scenes from 1930's cinema to present-day movies featuring a remarkable roster of undervalued actresses and their more celebrated white costars. A video collaboration between Tracey Moffat and Gary Hillberg. 1999. 11 min.

Long Train Running: a History of the Oakland Blues.

A film by Marlon Riggs. Examines taverns and clubs in Oakland, California where a distincitive style of blues music unique to Oakland was developed and performed. Includes interviews with blues musicians in the Oakland area and segments from the San Francisco Blues Festival. 29 min. ; also on VHS
Bibliography on this topic: Marlon Riggs bibliography

Looking for Langston: A Meditation on Langston Hughes (1902-1907) and the Harlem Renaissance.

A tribute to Langston Hughes, this film attempts to reclaim him as an important black gay voice in American culture. A film by Isaac Julien. 45 min. ;

Many Steps: The Origin and Evolution of African-American Collegiate Stepping

The origin and evolution of African American collegiate stepping is explored in this energetic and informative documentary. Stepping dates back to the early 20th century, when black veterans of World War I enrolled in colleges and brought to their dances a highly rigorous, drill-like component and combined it with elements from other black dances. Stepping today is a popular communal art form in which teams of young dancers compete, using improvisation, call and response, complex meters, propulsive rhythms and a percussive attack. 2002. 28 min.