Join 3,376 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Any movies that deal with segregation in the southern United States?
January 20, 2008 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Please name some movies that deal with segregation in the southern United States.

I was talking to a Czech friend of mine today and we began discussing racism in the south. I explained the Jim Crow laws to him, segregation in schools (and later integration), the "whites only" and "colored only" areas... and he didn't believe me. He couldn't fathom any of it and would like to know more about this, but through movies (due to his limited English).
I found some Youtube links, but would like to give him some titles to movies. I've already told him about Malcolm X, but he would also like to see something on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Any suggestions?
posted by czechmate to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ghosts of Mississippi, about the death of Medgar Evers.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:07 PM on January 20, 2008


One of my favorite books as a child was "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry". Your friend might try that, if s/he's not above young adult novels. Apparently there was a made-for-TV movie made.

Of course there's Mississippi Burning.
posted by pjenks at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2008


I haven't seen it, but: Mississippi Burning.
posted by Flunkie at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2008


To Kill A Mockingbird shows the effects of segregation and entrenched racism in the deep South. Even if it's not about segregation, per se, the sociological effects are displayed very well.

IMDB has segregation as a keyword, which should help you find some titles.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the Heat of the Night
To Kill a Mockingbird
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2008


It's not dealing with Martin Luther King, Jr, and it's fictional, but A Time to Kill could give a good and moving portrait of things that happened in the South.
posted by jpcody at 6:12 PM on January 20, 2008


The seminal book/movie, To Kill a Mockingbird.

I don't know if there was a movie made about it, but the Emmit Till story is a gut-wrenching example. (Poor kid is buried a block away from me.)

One thing to investigate would be the increase in racism from the turn of the century to the civil rights era.
posted by gjc at 6:15 PM on January 20, 2008


No feature film has ever been made about MLK to my knowledge. I believe his family has so far been against it. The best thing would be to find a torrent of Eyes on the Prize if you can--I believe it's still out of print and not available any other way.
posted by dobbs at 6:18 PM on January 20, 2008


More:

The Long Walk Home
Ruby Bridges (I cried almost non-stop through this whole movie)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:19 PM on January 20, 2008


It's not easy to get your hands on, but if you can find a copy of the T.V. documentary series Eyes on the Prize, it's definitely worth it.
posted by craichead at 6:25 PM on January 20, 2008


The best thing would be to find a torrent of Eyes on the Prize if you can--I believe it's still out of print and not available any other way.
Don't quote me on this, but I think it's back in print but only available to libraries and educational institutions.
posted by craichead at 6:27 PM on January 20, 2008


Better yet, READ To Kill a Mockingbird -- but the movie's good, too.

Black Like Me is a book from 1961 that was made into a movie. It's a fascinating study in which a white journalist from Texas has his skin medically darkened and then travels through the South for six weeks passing as a black man.
posted by wsg at 6:31 PM on January 20, 2008


The Great Debaters is in theaters in the US now.
posted by magnusbe at 6:35 PM on January 20, 2008


I don't know if there was a movie made about it, but the Emmit Till story is a gut-wrenching example. (Poor kid is buried a block away from me.)

Derail, although perhaps relevant considering the relative paucity of quality stories about segregation: Rod Serling once penned a teleplay for Playhouse 90 about Emmett Till. However, the network felt this was too controversial for television, so they asked him to change the names around, to fictionalize the episode. Serling said sure, why not. Then they asked him to turn the young black boy into an old Jewish man, and to have the killer be a relatively decent man who did something wrong, as opposed to someone truly vile. They even omitted the word "lynch," for fear of offending...well, I don't know. This nonsense was eventually shot and filmed, much to Serling's distress. Not long afterwards, Serling discovered that he was better able to tell important stories through the nightmare metaphors of The Twilight Zone, since reality was obviously far too much for the networks. This event happened during the time of segregation itself, too, so it's a nice little meta-story. Segregation was not only vile, but absurd.

Anyway, Eyes On The Prize, To Kill A Mockingbird, Rosewood and Mississippi Burning are all solid portraits of segregation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:43 PM on January 20, 2008


How about Spike Lee's Four Little Girls?
posted by stefnet at 7:07 PM on January 20, 2008


Mississippi Burning is a segregation story told through the lens of white men in positions of authority, fyi.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 7:17 PM on January 20, 2008


Seconding To Kill A Mockingbird. Adding The Color Purple. And Fried Green Tomatoes to a certain extent.
posted by amyms at 7:18 PM on January 20, 2008


To Kill A Mockingbird followed by Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Double Oscars, yo!
posted by DarlingBri at 7:21 PM on January 20, 2008


American History X. And while it's not a movie per se, I reccommend watching an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine called Far Beyond the Stars', (rated by fans to be one of DS9's best ever episodes) which deals with racism and segregation in America beautifully.

Also, nthing To Kill A Mockingbird and Mississippi Burning.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:26 PM on January 20, 2008


I think the best documentary is At the River I Stand. It's about MLK, the Memphis Sanitation workers' strike, and the assasination. It's about an hour long and can be hard to track down, but many public and university libraries have it.
posted by cushie at 7:35 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mississippi Burning also places the FBI (or at least its two good-cop/bad-cop FBI protagonists) in a heroic light in the Civil Rights even though the FBI generally and J. Edgar Hoover in particular were far from helpful to MLK and other Civil Rights leaders. This is a fairly common criticism of the movie.

Boycott, a made-for-tv movie in which the always fabulous Jeffrey Wright plays MLK, is memorable to me for depicting the courage and actions of people who actually participated in the movement.
posted by hhc5 at 7:39 PM on January 20, 2008


You might try Far From Heaven, which is set in the fifties and is about a woman who falls in love with a black man after discovering her husband is gay, and the tragic impossibility of their having a future together in that time and place.
posted by orange swan at 7:41 PM on January 20, 2008


Remember the Titans is one of those feel-good sports movies that centers around the conflict of integration.
posted by that girl at 7:49 PM on January 20, 2008


There is a documentary from PBS I think about the Emmet Till killing. It is very interesting and I think it is available online (as many PBS shows are)
posted by ooklala at 8:00 PM on January 20, 2008


Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:11 PM on January 20, 2008


Once Upon a Time, When We Were Colored

This book might be of interest, as might the films shown in this series.

And, don't forget the classic 1915 film "Birth of a Nation"
posted by Rumple at 9:26 PM on January 20, 2008


Birth of a Nation is a pro-KKK movie. I suppose it does deal with segregation in the south, but from the point of view of white supremacists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:39 PM on January 20, 2008


"A Patch of Blue" (1965, won an Oscar) about a black man (played by Sidney Poitier) and a blind white teenage girl who fall in love in. According to Wikipedia, this film "explores racism from the perspective of "love is blind," ... and scenes of Poitier and Hartman kissing were excised from the film when it was shown in movie theaters in the South."
posted by Smalltown Girl at 9:45 PM on January 20, 2008


The Murder of Emmet Till PBS documentary (PBS site).
posted by kirkaracha at 9:55 PM on January 20, 2008


Eyes on the Prize is going to be one of the most thorough examinations of the subject he can find. Unfortunately, it is in copyright limbo right now. You should be able to find copies in libraries or in torrent form, though (I've heard the creators have actually tacitly encouraged this option as a protest against the ridiculous copyright fees they'd need to pay to get the movie re-released on DVD).
posted by schroedinger at 9:56 PM on January 20, 2008


Birth of a Nation is a pro-KKK movie. I suppose it does deal with segregation in the south, but from the point of view of white supremacists.
That's true, and you probably need a little bit of background knowledge for it even to make any sense. I think that someone who didn't know anything about American history might just be baffled by it. Once you have that background knowledge, though, I've found it an extremely effective teaching tool. It was such a huge hit and such a groundbreaking movie, and it's so profoundly, overtly, centrally white supremacist, that it helps students understand the extent and virulence of early 20th century racism.
posted by craichead at 7:48 AM on January 21, 2008


Little Rock Nine: The Ernest Green Story is really good. It's about the first nine black students to attend the all-white Central High School and the first black person to graduate.

Also, Lynn Whitfield does a beautiful job in the Josephine Baker Story.

Or, maybe some of these
.
posted by mynameismandab at 9:54 PM on January 21, 2008


« Older In love with Slashfood, lookin...   |  I'm trying to copy about 16,00... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.