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Educational/Art Videos/DVDs and Race Movies See also Black TV Shows on DVD

Most of these videos are inexpensive to purchase...they are widely available free-of-charge through interlibrary loan. Check with the librarian at your school or public library for more information about interloan, and for additional recommendations of titles.

African American Cinema at This link takes you to search results for classics and current films starring Lena Horne, Joe Louis, A.B. DeComathiere, Ralph Cooper, Moms Mabley, Stepin Fetchit, Spencer Williams, Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Nina Mae McKinney, Geraldine Brock, Edna Mae Harris, Herb Jeffries, July Jones and many others.

For reviews of popular films, I'd suggest

Finally Available in DVD! Eyes on the Prize.
Produced for PBS, 1986. Part 1 is 6 hours. Part 2 is 8 hours.
DVD for purchase, plus additional free resources and lesson plans are found at the PBS website.

The most comprehensive television documentary on the American civil rights movement ever produced, includes rare film footage and incisive present-day interviews to bring the events of this period to life. For many years copyright restrictions prevented this landmark film from being re-released or broadcast, but it is now available again through PBS in a new classroom compatible Educator's Edition which includes additional footage and a comprehensive study guide.

 Highy Recommended! Standing on my Sisters' Shoulders. Directed by Laura J. Lipson. Produced by Joan Sadoff, Dr. Robert Sadoff, Laura J. Lipson. Women Make Movies, 2003. 61 minutes, Color and B/W, Video, Documentary. More information about the movie /// Ordering info from Women Make Movies

This award-winning documentary takes on the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi in the 1950's and 60's from the point of view of the courageous women who lived it ­ and emerged as its grassroots leaders. These women stood up and fought for the right to vote and the right to an equal education. They not only brought about change in Mississippi, but they altered the course of American history. While the historical footage is a stirring reminder, contemporary interviews of the activists show that many of these women are still active and vital. This film will have an impact on high school and college students who think of the Civil Rights Movement as ancient history, since these women could be their grandmothers.

Highy Recommended! Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks. Videocassette, 40 minutes. Teaching Tolerance, 2002. Free to schools.

The film presents the birth of the Civil Rights Movement as more than a mere history lesson for the classroom but also as a model for young activists who are looking to make a positive change in their communities. The viewer's guide describes various ways to use the video and includes discussion starters, writing assignments and project ideas geared to a wide range of learning styles and media. Curriculum activities are also presented online.

Highly Recommended! Legacy Movie. Tod Lending, filmaker. PBS 2002. 90 minutes.

This inspiring documentary ought to be required viewing in every urban high school and every church or social welfare organization. "For four generations, the Collins family was trapped in urban poverty, depending upon welfare and living in one of the oldest and most dangerous public housing projects in America-Chicago's Henry Horner Homes. Yet, unlike tens of thousands in their situation, they found the community support structures-and internal spirit-to strengthen their family and transcend the economic and social conditions of their lives.

Filmed in an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual discovery between the Collins family and the filmmaker, Tod Lending, the 90-minute LEGACY documentary captures a family passing through dramatic and unexpected transitions over a five-year period. Through the powerful and dignified voices of women from three generations of the Collins family, LEGACY tells the inspiring story of how members of one family broke free of welfare, recovered from substance abuse and escaped the specter of violence in their community. Family members succeeded in education and job training, secured employment, moved to a safe neighborhood and gained self-respect."

Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery. PBS Video. 1998 (6 hours) Available at in VHS or DVD

Destined to become THE primary resource for many history classes, this video tells the story of Africans in America in a way which is both personal and powerful, beginning in Africa during Pre-colonial times, and ending with the Civil War. I thought I knew about Africans in America, but around every corner I was thinking, "I never knew that!" Though scholarly and artistic, it also had me reduced to tears at many points.

Against the Odds. The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance (60 minutes) Amazon

Revisit Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s when it was the scene of a passionate outburst of creativity by African-American visual artists. Over 130 paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures, along with rare archival footage of artists at work. Produced for PBS.

Aida's Brothers and Sisters: Black Voices in Opera. Kultar, 2000. Amazon .com

A fascinating look at the history and present situation of African-American opera singers in America. Combines rare and contemporary footage of some of the greatest performers of the century and includes interview with many notable black singers, as well as musicologists, directors and historians.

BET Journeys in Black: Jamie Foxx (2001) Read more or order at

This versatile actor comedian has taken the entertainment business by storm. His irreverent brand of comedy was launched on the popular 90's variety show "In Living Color" where he "rocked your world" as Wanda the masseuse. From television and film to stand-up, Jamie Foxx has proven that he is truly an entertainment renaissance man. He starred in his own television sitcom "The Jamie Foxx Show" and has appeared in over a dozen major motion pictures including Ali, The Players Club and Any Given Sunday. BET's Journeys In Black gives you a glimpse into the life of Jamie Foxx, one of the most popular and hard working entertainers of our time.

BET Journeys in Black: Master P (2001) Read more or order at

Take an inside look at the rapper/CEO/business mastermind from his days in the housing projects of New Orleans to corporate CEO .

BET Journeys in Black: Johnnie Cochran(2001) Read more or order at

Johnnie Cochran began his career as a deputy attorney for the criminal division of the city of Los Angeles, and went on to start his own practice where he took on civil rights and criminal cases against the Los Angeles Police Department. Cochran is probably best known, however for representing high profile clients such as O.J. Simpson, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and Snoop Dogg. This volume of BET's JOURNEYS IN BLACK provides an up-close look at this brilliant legal mind.

BET Journeys in Black: Al Sharpton(2001) Read more or order at

Often ridiculed and criticized, but never ignored, Harlem, New York native Al Sharpton has become a modern media fixture when it comes to issues of civil rights. His brash style was developed in his early days as a child preacher. That same style has evolved into a controversial public image which has allowed him to become a figure of political influence in New York City, and a representative of civil rights on a wider scale.

BET Journeys in Black: Russell Simmons (2001) Read more or order at

Visionary entrepreneur Russell Simmons is largely credited with helping to bring hip-hop from its roots in the world of DJs, MC, graffiti, and breakdancing on the New York underground to a whole new level that would allow it to be both a major cultural force and a lucrative industry. Along the way, Simmons himself made his fortune by creating business and entertainment entities Def Jam Records, Def Comedy Jam, Def Poetry Jam, and Phat Pharm clothing.

BET Journeys in Black: CeCe Winans (2001) Read more or order at

There are singers and then, there's CeCe Winans. CeCe not only possesses an awesome vocal talent, but more importantly, she exudes an overwhelming warmth and a genuine affection for her fans that separates her from many celebrities. Her fans have returned the love with a staggering array of accolades. CeCe has collected six Grammies, ten Dove Awards, five Stellar Awards, several gold and platinum albums, a host of Top Ten R&B hits and eight #1 contemporary Christian music singles.

BET Journeys in Black: Luther Vandross (2001) Read more or order at

Luther Vandross' sound has virtually been the soundtrack of R&B over the past 20 years. The veteran R&B singer first realized his love of music as a youngster going to the legendary Apollo Theater in his native Harlem, N.Y. He listened to the radio constantly and developed a love for the classic soul of the sixties and seventies. Since then Luther has gone on to develop a smooth classic soul sound that is his alone, when you hear one of his songs there is no question that the voice behind the music is Luther.

BET Journeys in Black: Patti LaBelle (2001) Read more or order at

Truly one of the most the most prolific singers in the history of recorded music, Patti LaBelle's career is still going strong after five decades. From the 1960s with Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles, the seventies with LaBelle and from the eighties to the present as the premiere female Soul singer, Patti has set the bar too high for most to reach. Her uninhibited stage performances are legendary; when she performs live she gives the audience her all. BET's Journeys In Black Presents Patti LaBelle in all her glory, featuring performance footage, interviews and testimonials from Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg, former President Bill Clinton and more.

BET Journeys in Black: Kirk Franklin (2001) Read more or order at

Musical original Kirk Franklin carved his own niche in the world of gospel music by adding elements of hip-hip to traditional choir arrangements with his groups The Family, God's Property, and The Nu Nation.

BET Journeys in Black: Minister Louis Farrakahn (2001) Read more or order at

To some, Louis Farrakahn is a leader and spiritual guide. To others, he is a dangerous disseminator of misinformation. No one, however, can deny the passion he brings to his speeches or the power he has to bring his followers together. This volume of BET's JOURNEYS IN BLACK presents an in-depth interview with the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam in which he discusses the factors which have shaped his life.

Black Bicycle Corps: America's Black Army on Wheels (2000) 60 minutes. or the PBS Shop.

The 25th Infantry - one of four black regiments created after the Civil War - arrived at Fort Missoula in May 1888. In the 1890s, the U.S. Army believed it could replace horses with popular new "safety bicycles." Testing this theory, the army sent 20 African-American soldiers on a 2,000-mile ride from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri.

Black History: The Classics (5 hours) VHS

Three compelling classics capture the passionate conflicts of the black people: James Baldwin's "Go Tell It on the Mountain," Richard Wright's "Native Son" and Alan Paton's "Cry the Beloved Country." The first two films cover the trials and tragedies of black life in America, while the last focuses on Apartheid and how it tears a nation and its people apart. Each film has been brilliantly adapted from an acclaimed novel and features an all-star cast. Produced for PBS.

Black History Series: A&E Biography 10 Titles, 50 minutes each, grades 7 and up $49 at Library Video

These comprehensive biographies from the popular A&E series feature archival footage, location footage and interviews with historians and scholars. A multi-volume series.

A Century of Black Cinema A 90-minute special celebrating the finest African-American entertainers ever to grace the silver screen featuring performances from PORGY AND BESS, LILIES OF THE FIELD, GONE WITH THE WIND, COTTON COMES TO HARLEM, WAITING TO EXHALE and many more.

Daughters of the Dust. Written, directed and produced by Julie Dash. Geechee Girls, 1991. 113 minutes, Not Rated. Available at in VHS and DVD
Also: Dash, Julie. Daughters of the Dust: The Making of an African American Woman's Film. NY: Norton, 1992.

A visual feast, this film defies traditional film narrative style to take the viewer into another time, place and culture. The time is 1902, the place is the Georgia Sea Islands where the Gullah people, descendents of slaves, have lived in relative isolation and therefore developed a rich culture deeply rooted in Africa. Some members of a large family are preparing to leave for the north. This film is for advanced students, and should not be shown without some preparation. I recommend you first visit the Daughters of the Dust Project created by students at The College of New Jersey.

Ebony Pearls: The African American Experience in and around Charleston, South Carolina
Produced for The American Experience (PBS) 50 min. VHS

Join historian Muima Maat on a cultural adventure through the streets of Charleston. Some of the highlights include a recounting of Denmark Vesey and the 1822 slave insurrection, a look at the ancient art form of sweetgrass basketry, the origins of the church now known as Emanuel AME and more.

Ethnic Notions. Producer/Director: Marlon Riggs. 56 minutes, 1987. Widely available at libraries, or order at California Newsreel . DVD

This Emmy Award-winning documentary takes viewers on a 150-year journey through ethnic stereotypes. Clips from cartoons, feature films, advertisements, household objects and even children's rhymes introduce us to the dehumanizing caricatures of black people which are still buried in our national psyche: Loyal Toms, happy Sambos, faithful Mammies, grinning Coons, savage Brutes, and wide-eyed Pickaninnies. Watch this and you'll have a greater understanding of Spike Lee's film Bamboozled. (Read about Bamboozled at

Fatal Flood.Produced, Directed, and Written by Chana Gazit. WGBH, 2001. 60 minutes. VHS
Available for purchase at PBS or

"Fatal Flood focuses on the devastating impact the flood wrought on the Delta community of Greenville, Mississippi. One of the most productive cotton producing areas of the country, the Delta was largely populated by poor black share croppers and presided over by self-styled planter aristocrats who ruled their fiefdoms like feudal lords." The Teacher's Guide and other resources will help you connect this video with The Great Migration.

First Person Singular: John Hope Franklin Produced for PBS 1997

To study the life of John Hope Franklin is to understand the course of African American historiography since the 1940's. I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Franklin about 20 years ago when I worked at the Cincinnati Historical Society and he was using the archives for research. I brought a group of school children through on a tour, and as we tried to tip-toe past so as not to disturb him, he insisted we stop so he could talk to them. This video captures that essence of one of America's greatest living historians - a unique scholar who was never out-of-touch!

Frederick Douglass: When the Lion Wrote History (90 minutes) VHS

Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick Douglass overcame incredible odds to become a journalist, publisher, diplomat and orator. He was a passionate leader in the early struggle for the civil rights of Black people, and also fought for women's rights.

Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (1 hour 35 minutes) VHS

He was "The Man Who Passed the Babe," with more home runs and RBIs than anyone in major league history. A man who cared deeply about civil rights, he overcame enormous odds and fierce racial hostility to triumph even beyond his wildest dreams.

Hollywood Rhythm Vol. 01: The Best of Jazz & Blues Kino Video, 2001. Amazon .com

Back in the early days of cinema, "musical shorts" were created to round out film programs. Fortunately, these extra features have been preserved, and watching this DVD is like time traveling. If those brief clips in Ken Burns' "Jazz" leave you wanting more, this is just what the doctor ordered.

"A Rhapsody in Black and Blue" (1932, with Louis Armstrong), "A Bundle of Blues" (1933, with Duke Ellington and Ivie Anderson), "Cab Calloway's Hi-De-Ho" (1933, with Cab Calloway), "Ain't Misbehavin'" (1941, with Fats Waller), "Symphony in Black" (1935, with Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday), "Jitterbug Party" (1934, with Cab Calloway), "St. Louis Blues" (1929, with Bessie Smith), "Hoagy Carmichael" (1939, with Jack Teagarden), "Ol' King Cotton" (1930, with George Dewey Washington), "Black and Tan Fantasy" (1929, with Duke Ellington, Fredi Washington, Arthur Whetsol), and "Those Blues" (1932, with Vincent Lopez). Bonus Short: Jazz a la Cuba (1933, with Don Aspiazu and His Famous Cuban Orchestra)

In Remembrance of Martin (60 minutes) DVD

Personal comments from family members, friends, former classmates and advisors are chronicled in this moving documentary honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns Available at on VHS and DVD (19 hours)

Wow...I enjoyed this series! I particularly enjoyed the historical aspects woven into the piece, and I appreciated the way Wynton Marsalis kept dropping in to demonstrate a musical term with his horn. There has been much discussion in the media about everything that Burns left out, and criticism about whether he (or even Marsalis) was the right man to establish what will surely become The Canon. But somebody had to make the film, and judging from the lack of agreement among the critics, I doubt any film about jazz would make everyone happy. That being said, my own pet peeve is Burns' insistence upon declaring "inventors" and "firsts" in a musical form which is mostly a collective development. But still, this was a wonderful effort. For those who can't get enough, or want to listen to the music in its entirety, you'll find a complete jazz store and episode guide when you visit

Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory Amazon .com PBS Home Video, 2000.

"In the chaotic decade following the Civil War, a group of young ex-slaves in Nashville, Tennessee, set out on a mission to save their financially troubled school by giving concerts. Traveling first through cities in the North, then on to venues across Europe, the Jubilee Singers introduced audiences to the power of spirituals, the religious anthems of slavery." Also: Explore their history and music at this PBS site.

Legacy Movie. Tod Lending, filmaker. PBS 2002. 90 minutes.

This inspiring documentary ought to be required viewing in every urban high school and every church or social welfare organization. "For four generations, the Collins family was trapped in urban poverty, depending upon welfare and living in one of the oldest and most dangerous public housing projects in America-Chicago's Henry Horner Homes. Yet, unlike tens of thousands in their situation, they found the community support structures-and internal spirit-to strengthen their family and transcend the economic and social conditions of their lives.

Filmed in an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual discovery between the Collins family and the filmmaker, Tod Lending, the 90-minute LEGACY documentary captures a family passing through dramatic and unexpected transitions over a five-year period. Through the powerful and dignified voices of women from three generations of the Collins family, LEGACY tells the inspiring story of how members of one family broke free of welfare, recovered from substance abuse and escaped the specter of violence in their community. Family members succeeded in education and job training, secured employment, moved to a safe neighborhood and gained self-respect."

(The) Long Walk Home. 98 min. Director Richard Pearce. Starring Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek. Live Home Video, 1991. Available at in VHS and DVD

Based on the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. A powerful drama that accurately depicts how thousands of unsung heroes, black and white together, sustained the Civil Rights Movement. Rated PG. (Be prepared for the "n" word.)

Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind . 90 min. Produced for The American Experience, 2001. Available at in VHS and DVD

Marcus Garvey was many things to many people. To the elite of the Harlem Renaissance, he was a buffoon. To J. Edgar Hoover, he was a dangerous feared that the first black FBI agents were hired to infiltrate and sabotauge the UNIA movement. But to hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - of African people around the world he brought a message of hope, pride and unity which laid the foundation for the Black Power Movement. This video is rich in music and imagery, and many points of view are expressed through interviews with black historians, Garvey's contemporaries and two sons, and former UNIA members.

Nelson Mandela: Journey to Freedom Available from in VHS and DVD (50 minutes)

The remarkable saga of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.

Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored. Directed by Tim Reid. 1996 VHS Available from in VHS and DVD

Based on the 1989 best-selling book by Clifton L. Taulbert, this film re-creates the world of a "colored town" of Glen Allan, Mississippi in the years from 1946 to 1962, as hardline segregation gradually falls to the assault of the civil rights movement. Capturing community life over four generations, it is a memory of the close bonds of family, friends and church that grew up to sustain such communities, in a society where an American version of apartheid was the law.

Our Friend Martin. Fox Video, 1999. 60 minutes. Available at in VHS and DVD

Blends historical footage of Dr Martin Luther King and animation. A routine class project for sixth-graders turns into a fascinating journey that allows the students to learn about - and meet - the great civil rights leader. An all-start cast of voices includes Ed Asner, Levar Burton, Danny Glover, Whoopie Goldberg, James Earl Jones, John Travolta and Oprah Winfrey. Elementary - Middle School.

Race: The Power of an Illusion 3 hours. Grades 10 and up

This compelling 3-part series opens with a group of high school students who are exploring their assumptions about race, comparing their DNA, and discovering (much to their surprise) that there is no biological basis for the concept of "race." It then goes on to examine how and why the concept of "race" was invented, its historical implications and how it effects society today. The PBS web site includes ordering information and provides background readings, lesson plans, discussion guides and other resources.

Roots Six Volume Set available at in VHS and DVD

Based on the book by Alex Haley, this miniseries is as fresh and exciting today as it was back in 1977. One of the many myths about African American history had been that blacks were unable to trace their roots; for example, though thousands of blacks fought in the American Revolution, the DAR didn't admit black members until one year after the nation's Bicentennial. Alex Haley exploded the myth by tracing his genealogy back to Kunta Kinte, an African slave brought here in the 18th century.

Roots of Rhythm, hosted by Harry Belafonte. Produced for KCET/Los Angelos, 1994. 3 Volume set available at in VHS and DVD

Long before there was "World Music" Americans danced the Mambo and Conga. This series provides a fascinating, in-depth look at how Latin music has roots in Africa rhythms and Spanish melodies, and came to the U.S. in the early 20th century via Cuba. Host Harry Belafonte is delightfully informal and shares personal experiences along the way, such as how his contract was cancelled by the mob who ran the Copacabana because he'd married interracially. One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed was the look at everyday life in Cuba, and the discussion of the U.S. role in that country's history. Without hammering away at the fact, Belafonte discusses our government's unwillingness to recognize Cuba's sovereignty, and expresses his hope that music will break down the barriers. But politics aside, this video series is a must-see for any student of African American music.

Roots of the Underground Railroad, Produced for the American Experience (PBS)

Men and women, black and white, risked their lives to carve an elaborate network of escape routes out of slavery.

Say Amen, Somebody. 1982 Documentary. Available at in VHS and DVD

A joyful film about the roots of gospel music. Focusing on the aging but still vigorous "Professor" Thomas A. Dorsey and "Mother" Willie Mae Ford, it also offers musical moments by such gospel stalwarts as Sallie Martin and the Barrett Sisters. Live performances are mixed with telling, sometimes touching reminiscences by these pioneers of a musical style. One scene in particular never fails to bring me to tears...when Dorsey and Ford sit together listening to the original recording of "If You See My Saviour."

Small Steps, Big Strides: The Black Experience in Hollywood. Produced for American Movie Classics, 1997.

Did you know that over 1.5 million mourners turned out for the funeral of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson? Or that when Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Gone With the Wind, her acceptance speech was written by the studio? This film uses fascinating archival footage mixed with contemporary interviews to tell the story of African Americans in Hollywood -from 1903 to 1970. It also explores some of the images that others, like D.W. Griffith, created of them. It examines the careers of Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Stepin Fetchit, Paul Robeson, and many others, placing them within the social and historical context of the times. It's great fun to watch and appropriate for any age sent me racing to the video store for a copy of Stormy Weather!

Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Artisan (Fox Video) 2003 110 minutes. Available at on  VHS and DVD

The Funk Brothers played on more hit records than the Beatles and Elvis combined, and they created the Motown sound which carried us through the 60's and continues to inspire musicians today. Yet this studio band labored in relative obscurity compared to the stars they backed, such as the Supremes and the Temptations. This moving documentary reunites them and finally pays them the R-E-S-P-E-C-T they deserve. It's warm, humorous, poignant and a great way to get a better understanding of the Motown sound and times.

Stormy Weather. Twentieth Century Fox, 1943. 78 minutes. Available at Amazon on VHS and DVD

This is a rare big studio film which featured an all-black cast. Like any hollywood musical of the era, the plot is paper thin and primarily serves as an excuse to showcase song and dance numbers. But what a fantastic show it is! Lena Horne, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Ada Brown, the incomparable Nicholas Brothers...they're all here and more in a script that doesn't reduce them to stereotypes. Since the story begins right after WWI, a special treat is the incorporation of actual rare footage of Jim Europe's 369th "Hell Fighters" Infantry Band marching triumphantly in New York City.

Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice (American Masters) Stanley Nelson, Director. PBS 2005 Purchase at PBS

This Grammy Award-winning, all-women, African-American a capella group has been spreading joy, hope, and inspiration through harmonious performances for the past 30 years. Capturing the complex sounds of spirituals, gospel hymns, African chants, and jazz, six accomplished singers combine their voices in heartfelt song. Rooted in the Civil Rights movement, Sweet Honey's music is stepped in the call for justice and messages of peace. More about the show at PBS

This Far By Faith PBS

This series explores African American history - from the arrival of the first slaves (many of whom were Muslims) into the 21st century - through the lens of faith and religion. The PBS web site provides ordering information plus many resources.

Three Mo' Tenors BMG/RCA 2001. Available at in VHS and DVD(You can also purchase the audio CD at

"Since their debut in the summer of 2000, Victor Trent Cook, Thomas Young, and Rodrick Dixon -- otherwise known as Three Mo' Tenors -- have been thrilling audiences with their dynamic performances encompassing a wide spectrum of musical genres. From Verdi and Puccini through gospel and traditional spirituals to Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington , and Broadway, these three virtuosos pay tribute to the incredible versatility of African-American operatic tenors that is all too infrequently showcased on the conventional stage."

Underground Railroad The History Channel. Available at in VHS and DVD

No records were kept, but historians believe more than 100,000 slaves tried to escape their bondage before the Emancipation Proclamation. Alfre Woodard links together interviews with historians, contemporary photographs, drawings, and dramatic reenactments to show the terrors of slavery and the travails of escape, exploding many of our myths along the way. The emphasis is placed on the fact that this was the first integrated movement for civil rights, created by thousands of unknown heroes. (Gerri's note: This is one of my all-time favorites.)

Unforgiveable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Ken Burns, Director. PBS 2005. DVD and Videocassette. Read more at

"Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, whose reign lasted from 1908 to 1915, was also the first African American pop culture icon. He was photographed more than any other black man of his day and, indeed, more than most white men. He was written about more as well. Black people during the early 20th century were hardly the subject of news in the white press unless they were the perpetrators of crime or had been lynched (usually for a crime, real or imaginary). Johnson was different-not only was he written about in black newspapers but he was, during his heyday, not infrequently the subject of front pages of white papers. As his career developed, he was subject of scrutiny from the white press, in part because he was accused and convicted of a crime, but also because he was champion athlete in a sport with a strong national following." Teacher's Guide, target audience grades 9-12.

A Woman Called Moses Available at in VHS and DVD(200 minutes)

Starting with her "early years of midnight" on a Maryland plantation, this 1978 epic drama re-creates the life of Harriet Ross Tubman: her escape from slavery at age 29, her service on the Underground Railroad conducting hundreds of slaves to freedom, her perilous spying for the Union, and her post-war leadership of the suffragette movement. Based on the novel by Marcy Heidish, the program gives viewers a vivid portrait of this courageous and remarkable woman. Stars Cicely Tyson, Robert Hooks, and Will Geer. Narrated by Orson Welles. Grades 5 and up. Color. Total time: 200 minutes.

Wonders of the African World, with Henry Louis Gates Jr. Available at in VHS and DVD (6 hours)

Nominated for the NAACP Image Award, this series traces the roots of 20th century Africa. Visit with some of the most fascinating people, tour magnificent ancient cities and gain powerful new perspectives on some of the most colorful cultures rich in history. Lesson plans and more at PBS.

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