A Dream Coming True

January 21st, 2013 by Ran

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Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day, the day that commemorates the philosophy of one of the greatest (African-) American leaders of the 20th century. Today is also the inauguration to the second term of Barack Obama, the first African American president in US history. I don’t know about you, but to me, Barack Obama’s reelection victory was more impressive than his first one. In 2008, with two unwinnable wars and right in the midst of a recession, any guy promising change (he cleverly added Hope) would have easily won. He also rode the underdog ticket, which Americans love so much. Consider me not impressed. 2012 was a different story. Somewhere in the middle of 2012 Obama was a shoe-in for reelection: Bin Laden got got and the Republican primaries were full of smearing, fails and some preposterous ideas. Suddenly Obama was the favorite, he knew that nobody cheers for the favorite and that if democrats get too comfortable they could forget to vote. So, he took a dive on the first debate, and let Romney gain momentum. That reminded the democrats to go vote, they did, and he won. Consider me re-impressed. Well, in order to add some excitement to a less-than-exhilarating second term inauguration, on MLK day, here is a list of some of the best titles depicting the triumph of the African-American:

1. Glory (1989)The true story of the first formal all-black army company during the American Civil War. Even though the Union battled the Confederates to abolish slavery, racism was present in the north, south, east and west, and those black soldiers experienced it from both sides of the aisle. It’s a great story, and has great performances all around (Denzel Washington becoming only the second African-American Oscar winning actor).

2. The Color Purple (1985)Based on a book by Alice Walker, Steven Spielberg’s period drama tells the story of an impoverished and uneducated girl in the South. While suffering from the usual Spielberg sentimentality, the simple story of overcoming abuse and such a horrible destiny will uplift even the most cynical people.

3. Something the Lord Made (2004) – The true story of heart surgeon pioneers Dr. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) and his technician Vivien Thomas (Mos Def). Needless to say, their quest does not go smoothly in 1940’s America. This is a very well made TV movie that transcends your run-of-the-mill tearjerker.

4. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967) – A progressive white girl (Katharine Houghton) brings home her black fiancé (Sidney Poitier) to her so-called liberal parents (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn). White liberal hypocrisy is cleverly and humorously exposed in Stanley Kramer’s Classic.

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5. Sanford and Son (1972 – 1977) – This sitcom tells the misadventures of a father and son who operate a junkyard business. It’s a groundbreaking TV show, one of the first predominantly African-American shows, predating The Jeffersons and The Cosby Show. It also succeeded in not stereotyping or glorifying African-Americans and it’s still funny, after all these years.

6. When We Were Kings (1996) – One of the most important African-Americans (or persons) of the 20th century is masterfully depicted in this Oscar winning documentary. The story of Muhammad Ali’s 1974 boxing match against George Foreman in Zaire, coined “The Rumble in the Jungle”. Ali’s personality alone can carry a film, but this is one of the best sports documentaries ever made.

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7. He Got Game (1998) – The troublesome father-son relationship according to Spike Lee. A high school basketball prodigy, Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) has to deal with his choice of college. Enter his father (Denzel Washington), a convict serving 15 years in jail for his role in the death of Jesus’ mom, who is offered a commuted sentence if he can convince his estranged son to enroll to a specific college. The Spike Lee touch makes this is a different kind of sports film, with much more depth and style.

8. Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap (2012)Hip Hop legend Ice-T gathers his colleagues to talk about the rise of hip hop to global domination. Everyone who is or was everyone (except Jay-Z, surprisingly) comes to talk about the genre that didn’t invent anything, but reinvented everything. It’s very entertaining.

9. Talk to Me (2007)Don Cheadle plays eccentric radio DJ Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene Jr., an ex con ‘who told it like it is’, and rose to stardom in the roaring sixties. Cheadle is great, and he successfully captures the outrageous humor of this unique character. It’s a great true story, and very well made.

10. The Interrupters (2011) – What do you do in the face of gang violence? Many of us would choose flight over fight but apparently there’s a third option – interrupt. This is an amazing story of three people who try to interrupt and disrupt the violence in inner-city Chicago. It’s a great example of people thinking outside the box for solving the violence problem of America from the inside. A must-watch!

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