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.
Southern comforts abound in this big-screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel as lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, in an Oscar-winning role) defends an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges but ends up in a maelstrom of hate and prejudice.
John Waters’ original film version of Hairspray debuted in 1988, it was already looking back at a decades-old world. But while the movie and the musical both touch on issues of racial segregation that plagued Baltimore in the 1960s, the reality was that the city—and the country as a whole, for that matter—was much more starkly divided than it might seem through this nostalgic lens.
Based on the bestselling book, the film chronicles an African American family from Flint, Michigan, and how they are drastically changed while visiting Grandma in Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement in the summer of 1963.
The 1960s was the decade America transformed from a country of conformity to a land of political, cultural, and social liberation. The events of that tumultuous ten-year period reshaped America to such an extent that it still remains an epoch of fascination today and every step of the way, television helped frame and enable that change.
Grace Lee Boggs is a 99-year-old Chinese American whose vision of revolution will surprise you. An activist and philosopher, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses America’s past and its potentially radical future.
No conventional sports documentary, THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI examines how one of the most celebrated sports champions of the 20th century risked his fame and fortune to follow his faith and conscience. Outspoken and passionate in his beliefs, Ali found himself in the center of America’s controversies over race, religion, and war.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer and best-selling author, invites us to witness the Harlem Renaissance as he shares his lifelong passion for the legends that inspired him to greatness. Go back with Kareem to a time when jazz was Harlem’s soul and basketball was its heartbeat. And while you’re there, let him introduce you to the greatest basketball team you never heard of.