Dear Black People: 10 Classic Black Films You Should Know

Calling a film a classic comes with stipulations. One that I like to use is, if you can play the movie over and over, know the script word for word, laugh at the same old jokes and it still never gets old...issa classic. Get your pop corn ready! I introduce to some and present to others classic predominately African American movies that EVERY black person should know/watch for the culture.

P.S. This list isn’t ranked in any particular order:

1. Love & Basketball - How could I not start the list with this!? Isn't this basically every black girl’s favorite movie? Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote this amazing love story. She just gets it! The evolution of Quincy (Omar Epps) and Monica’s (Sanaa Lathan) relationship from adolescents to adults is sure to have you reevaluating your #relationshipgoals

2. Poetic Justice - Who knew about this movie before Kendrick Lamar and Drake named a song after it? Raise your hand. Justice (Janet Jackson) and Lucky (Tupac Shakur) reluctantly take a road trip together with friends in a mail truck managing to run into several bumps along the way. From blending in at cookouts, taking care of drunk and crazy friends to learning more than they expected about each other this movie should def be in your DVD collection. 

3. Baby Boy - Whether you want to admit it or not this might be one of the most relatable movie couples there is. It’s the perfect ghetto love story. Jody (Tyrese Gibson) still lives with his mom, has two kids, two different baby mothers and no job. He cannot seem to find a grasp on life but he is forced to grow up when his mom gets a new boyfriend, Melvin (Ving Rhames). After moving in with his baby moms/girlfriend Yvette (Taraji P. Henson) trouble follows him when her ex Rodney (Snoop Dogg) gets released from jail. Watch as Jody tries to find his footing and grow from a baby boy to a grown man.

Taraji P. Henson and Tyrese Gibson in Baby Boy. 

Taraji P. Henson and Tyrese Gibson in Baby Boy. 

4. Brown Sugar - For my last love story of this list I had to include this friendship turned secret relationship turned situationship. Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) and Dre (Taye Diggs) share a bond over watching the birth of hip hop on a New York corner as kids. As adults, they both are successful in the music industry and lean on each other as inspiration. Tune in to see how these hip hop heads manage their careers while trying to keep their eyes, hands and lips to themselves. SN: This movie’s soundtrack brought us one of the best songs ever “Erykah Badu - Love of My Life

brown sugar.jpg

5. The Wood - Going down memory lane, these three old friends Mike (Omar Epps), Roland (Taye Diggs) and Slim (Richard T. Jones) prepare for Roland’s wedding. Reminiscing on the days they used to run wild in the Inglewood streets the friends find it nostalgic for their bromance and how far they’ve come. When cold feet happens right before the wedding Mike and Slim try to help their boy Roland make it down the aisle. This comedic coming of age movie needs to be added into your collection. No question.  

6. Menace II Society - Not to be confused with the parody made soon after, this film is the ultimate trying to make it out of the hood story. Parallel to many of African American lifestyles back in the 90s, Caine (Tyrin Turner) fresh outta high school is navigating through his gang like upbringing while trying to find his way out of the streets of Los Angeles. With his unpredictable friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate) and a life of crime, Caine realizes moving out of the hood with his girlfriend Ronnie (Jada Pinkett-Smith) isn’t as easy as it sounds.

7. Boyz N The Hood - The infamous movie that birthed Ice Cube the actor. If you have never seen this movie WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Honestly. Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) gets sent to live with his father (Laurence Fishburne) in the streets of Los Angeles. There he battles sticking to the straight and narrow that his girlfriend Brandi (Nia Long) and father preaches to him vs. living the street life filled with drugs, gangs and violence like his homie Doughboy (Ice Cube). “Ya’ll want to see a dead body?” 

8. Paid In Full - “Everybody eats b!” If your significant other doesn't know what movie that’s from they’re too young for you. This movie is on Netflix so there is no reason you shouldn’t have seen this one yet. Ace (Wood Harris) works at a dry cleaners in Harlem to keep himself out of the drug game but the streets keep calling him. While delivering clothes, he meets a dealer who convinces him to sell drugs. Ace recruits his two friends Rico (Cam’ron) and Mitch (Mekhi Phifer) to be a part of the business that tests every part of their lives. From loyalty, relationships, family and friendships. The more they get paid the trickier the game becomes.


9. ATL - The modern day classic. This coming of age story of high school seniors Rashad (T.I), New New (Lauren London), and more trying to prosper in the city of Atlanta. The coolest place to be seen on the scene is the infamous skating rink Cascades. From working custodial jobs to pay the bills to pretending to live different lifestyles to be accepted by the masses this movie is relatable to millennials no matter where you’re from. 

10. Friday - Craig (Ice Cube) gets fired on his day off and has the most eventful Friday ever. He and his friend Smokey (Chris Tucker) experience everything from being robbed, owing drug dealers money, blind dates, crazy girlfriends (Paula Jai Parker), crackheads, pastors having affairs, shoot outs and so so much more. Tune into this movie to see how someone’s day can go from 0 to 100. “Bye Felicia!”.


*Bonus* Save the Last Dance - Some may not really considered this a “black movie” but I thought I’d add this as a bonus pick. This movie is set in a predominately black high school with a lot of dancing and hip hop flavor. Sara (Julia Stiles) moves in with her dad in Chicago’s south side after the death of her mom and meets Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) at school, who she soon falls for. Their interracial relationship isn’t the norm in the community so they deal with a lot of side eyes and whispers. The couple bonds over their love for dance while dealing with the adversities surrounding them. Give this movie a try I promise you won’t regret it. An added plus is that you’ll get to see Kerry Washington in rare form, beginning her acting career as Derek’s fashionable sister Chenille.

Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas in Save the Last Dance.

Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas in Save the Last Dance.

That’s it for the classics list. Hopefully you added something new in your collection or were inspired to turn on a movie you haven’t watched in awhile. This is not an all inclusive list saying that these are the only classics but these are ones that HAVE to be in heavy rotation for a movie night. What are your favorite black movies? Let me know in the comments.