Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
In 1960s Mississippi, Southern society girl Skeeter returns from college with dreams of being a writer. She turns her small town on its ear by choosing to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent white families. Only Aibileen, the housekeeper of Skeeter’s best friend, will talk at first. But as the pair continue the collaboration, more women decide to come forward, and as it turns out, they have quite a lot to say.
After leaving the South as a young man and finding employment at an elite hotel in Washington, D.C., Cecil Gaines gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired as a butler at the White House. Over the course of three decades, Cecil has a front-row seat to history and the inner workings of the Oval Office. However, his commitment to his “First Family” leads to tension at home, alienating his wife and causing conflict with his anti-establishment son.
In 1960s Baltimore, dance-loving teen Tracy Turnblad auditions for a spot on “The Corny Collins Show” and wins. She becomes an overnight celebrity, a trendsetter in dance, fun and fashion. Perhaps her new status as a teen sensation is enough to topple Corny’s reigning dance queen and bring racial integration to the show.
During World War II, the Civil Aeronautics Authority selects 13 black cadets to become part of an experimental program at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The program aims at training “colored personnel” to become fighter pilots for the Army. However, discrimination, lack of institutional support and the racist belief that these men lacked the intelligence and aptitude for the job dog their every step. Despite this, the Tuskegee Airmen, as they become known, more than prove their worth.
Born into poverty, Ernie Davis overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University’s football program. Under the guidance of Coach Ben Schwartzwalder, Davis becomes one of the school’s best players, even surpassing Jim Brown’s achievements. In 1961 Davis becomes the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, but there is one more obstacle in his life that he must overcome.
The remarkable life of South African revolutionary, president and world icon Nelson Mandela takes center stage. Though he had humble beginnings as a herd boy in a rural village, Mandela became involved in the anti-apartheid movement and co-founded the African National Congress Youth League. His activities eventually led to his imprisonment on Robben Island from 1964 to 1990. In 1994, Mandela became the first president of democratic South Africa.
When a group of civil rights workers goes missing in a small Mississippi town, FBI agents Alan Ward and Rupert Anderson are sent in to investigate. Local authorities refuse to cooperate with them, and the African American community is afraid to, precipitating a clash between the two agents over strategy. As the situation becomes more volatile, the direct approach is abandoned in favor of more aggressive, hard-line tactics.
During World War II, members of the U.S. Army’s all-black division are stationed in the Tuscany region of Italy. Four of the soldiers become trapped behind enemy lines and separated from the rest of their unit after one of them risks his life to save an Italian boy.
This biopic tells the story of civil rights activist Rosa Parks from her days as a private-school student to her public battle against racism and segregation. As a secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Parks defends local children who have been victimized by racism. But when she is arrested after refusing to give up her bus seat for a white passenger, Parks inspires the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.