Langston Hughes fans check it out! A documentary is on the horizon. Click through to the original article below. And for a fun, fictionalized sneak peek into the life of Langston based on real historical events, be sure to check out Renaissance: The Nora White Story book one, now just 99cents on Amazon.
This isn’t my favorite movie (It’s actually been a long time since I’ve seen it) but it is one of those coming of age movies I liked growing up. While I don’t like everything about it, like all the movies I enjoy, it does combine elements from some of my favorite things. Before we get into some of what I love about it, let’s get a quick glance at what this movie is about.
As you can see this is a sequel but I am not a fan of the first one. I’m not a Christian/Catholic and I just wasn’t moved. I think what made me enjoy this one though is the element of the youth being involved. To me they literally made the movie.
Letters to a Young Poet – The first time I heard of Maria Rainer Rilke was watching this movie. It’s funny because in the example Deloris used to encourage one of her more rebellious students (Rita played by Lauryn Hill), she used an example in which she talked about writing. saying:
“Don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning you couldn’t think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer.”
She was comparing this to the young woman’s desire to sing and that if she wakes up wanting to sing, then she’s supposed to be a singer. Not only did I believe what Deloris said (that if I woke up and all I could think about was writing then I’m a writer) but I also went out and bought the book when I grew up. (You gotta understand I was only six when this movie came out and didn’t see it until I was a little older). Sometimes I would watch the movie just to see this one part. Since I thought about writing, I knew she was talking about me.
Comedy – Of course, I love Whoopi’s comedy in the movie as well as the other women playing the nuns. I love to laugh and will rarely pass up a movie that gives a few chuckles.
Music – One of my favorite things about the movie is obviously the music. I loved hearing the kids voices and watching them transition as the choir began to take shape. And of course ya’ll know they jammed at the end.
Investing in our Youth – Just the fact that the movie is about someone taking the time to invest something positive into the lives of children is a huge plus for me. Now, it’s no Lean on Me but its still cool. The students were, as the description calls them “rowdy” when Deloris first met them. Talking back and playing cruel tricks on their teacher. Largely Black and Hispanic, the children live in the community and are barely being taught as the school does not have enough money for books. In fact, the school is in danger of closing down due to a lack of funding and of course, this will displace the children to schools in other districts. I liked seeing the different personalities of the children and seeing how they grew throughout the movie. With a passion for singing it is possible that they could be the first in their families to graduate and do something with their lives they never thought possible.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“If you wanna go somewhere, if you wanna be somebody, then you better wake up and pay attention. Cause the world out there don’t care how cool you think you are or who you kick it with. It don’t matter. If you don’t have an education, you don’t have anything and that’s the truth honey.”
“So because you think they sang it better, ya’ll are ready to leave cause you got scared…Let me remind you of something OK? If you wanna go somewhere and you wanna be somebody you better wake up and pay attention because if every time something scary comes up you wanna run, ya’ll are gonna be running for the rest of your lives.”
Sister Act 2 Trailer (even though to me they didn’t really show the good parts lol)
When I first heard they were remaking Roots, I was skeptical. I thought, “Some movies do not need to be remade.” I admit, I was looking on the physical and thinking, “Maybe it won’t be as powerful as the first.” But after watching it I must say it remains one of the most powerful series on TV, followed by Underground. But first, here’s a little History:
What is Roots?
Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a book published by Alex Haley in 1976 with a miniseries of the book that first premiered on television in 1977. During this post-civil rights era the show is about the ancestors of Alex Haley, particularly Kunta Kinte, who was kidnapped from his life in Africa and sold as a slave on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The Show was put out in a series of eight episodes to try and get it out the way as the networks didn’t think it would do well. However, the show proved them wrong, airing over the course of eight days and helping to galvanize a nation. See, to understand why Roots the remake is important in this day and time is to understand the history behind it and what it did to America. The TV series led to a renewed interest in genealogy from blacks who, due to slavery, felt robbed of their identity and cultural heritage:
If you weren’t there—if you’ve only known television in its post-Big Three networks era—it’s hard to understand the impact of the original Roots. Based on Alex Haley’s book of “faction,” the ABC miniseries’ 12 hours (with commercials) were spread across eight consecutive nights in January 1977, an unprecedented programming move that consolidated the show’s status as an event. The subsequent audience ratings were also unprecedented: 85% of television households, or 130 to 140 million Americans (more than half the U.S. population) saw at least part of the series; an estimated 100 million viewers tuned in for the two-hour finale on Sunday, January 30. – http://www.biography.com/news/alex-haley-roots-tv-show
1. Our Culture
In the remake, the ancient culture of the African American was well represented. For centuries we’ve been taught that we were animals running around naked with large hoops in our ears and swinging from trees. Taught that we were just Africans. While no TV show has gone as deep as to proclaim the unadulterated truth concerning our roots (not even Roots), I did enjoy the pieces of it sprinkled in the opening village scenes in the beginning because its an accurate portrayal of some of our culture. I loved that they showed the ancient garments, the head wraps and the midwives. Even the spreading of the palms to the heavens to pray. This is what we did and how we did it.
By the time Kunta was on the slave ships he’s naked. Now we’ve seen this before in other shows but what does it mean? This is highly significant of being stripped of your entire way of life. Gone is the beautiful blue garb, gone is the honor and the esteem, gone is the culture, and gone is the name that defines who you are.
I don’t want yall to sleep on the name part. Kizzy told Chicken George, “Your name is who you are. My daddy took beatings to protect his name”. Very powerful. People like to take names for granted. Often we look at them and they don’t hold any real significance but names are very important. Take away a persons name and you strip their entire identity. Your name is your character, and your persona. Your name is who you are. When we were stripped of our name, we were stripped of everything.
4. Biblical Insight
One of my most favorite scenes is when Chicken George introduced his mother Kizzy to his future wife and father in law and she said to him: “Massa don’t want you teaching about Exodus. About how the children of Israel walked across the red sea to freedom. He tore that right out the book.” Very powerful scene. Why? Because its the whole reason we weren’t allowed to read and write. Massa just didn’t say you couldn’t read because he thought you were an animal, an inhumane being. That’s only part of it. He didn’t want you to read because he didn’t want you to read the bible. Now why is that? Because the bible is black history.
5. Whites Persecuted
Another powerful thing this show portrayed is the persecution of Europeans who help blacks. This is also something they showed in Underground and I think its something that African Americans cannot sleep on. There are, and have always been, those of other nationalities who were wiling to help blacks to their deaths. Blacks were not the only ones lynched and maimed and murdered but also those who helped them.
6. Less is More
I didn’t like that they cut the series in half. I think it was too short. I also found it funny initially that Kunta’s character wasn’t switched out like in the first one so he looked the same throughout the series. However, I noticed that instead of going verbatim to the original they filled in those parts of the story that were missing from the first part. This was smart I think of the directors because this version has its own original feel. I thought this new Roots wasn’t going to be good compared to the first one but in truth they each are separate shows. While they tell the same story, the new Roots has a modern feel to it. Lawrence Fishburne, T.I. and Mekhi Phifer make their appearance and Kunta is a beast!
7. Now or Then?
I don’t think the new roots can compare to the original. I also do not think the original could speak to today’s youth like the new one. I don’t think one is better over the other. To me that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is the resurrection of a thirst for that lost history among a group of people today so far removed from their Roots.
Welcome back to another week of Movie Night Friday, where I present some of my favorite movies and why I love them. Next up on our list is Malcolm X:
I still don’t understand why Denzel Washington could win an Oscar for Training Day and not Malcolm X, it is in my opinion one of his best roles (Washington did win the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor). Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, Malcolm X released in November of ’92 and is based on the life of Malcolm X from his Biography. It was a time where, after the crack epidemic of the 80’s, Black people had begun to pick up some inkling of consciousness. You’ll notice many movies in the early 90s where blacks wore Kufi’s, and Dashiki’s as an indication of awareness (even though not completely, there is always stepping stones that take place in our lives that start us on the right path). Needless to say Malcolm X was a hit.
The movie takes us through the life of Malcolm Little, his early life as a gangster and as a criminal and his transformation as the controversial Islamic, Black Nationalist leader Malcolm X. For the record, I am not a Muslim, but I love how Denzel showed Malcolm’s passion and anyone with access to YouTube can verify this in the eyes of the real Malcolm. It’s one thing to make a speech or stand for something, but it’s a completely different thing when you are sincere about it, when you have passion that comes from the depths of your very heart and Malcolm had this. He had this and it lit a fire under those who wished to be apart of change for the so called Black people. And because of the traumatic experiences of America, we more than our brothers and sisters in any other country worldwide, need the kind of discipline that Malcolm brought forward; a tough love if you will. I also love the outreach programs catered to the community and the re-instilling of a love of self; the teaching of black people to embrace, as Malcolm put it, “their beautiful black selves”. Of course today I have a different perspective on the whole black thing (as I do not believe our nationality is defined by a color, that we are from the lost tribe of shabbaz or that white people are devils, for the record), but this movie was a great first step for many young people, such as myself, to dig deeper into the question of nationhood. The movie even portrayed Malcolm’s awareness that the Hebrews, was (are) Black Skinned:
Yea Yea, ignore the title of the video because this isn’t about religion and it’s deeper than color, but the point is that scenes such as this is a great introduction to full understanding for someone who otherwise does not know.
Additionally, I loved the way Malcolm explained things because not everyone can do that. Yes, you say that you believe in something but what is that belief based on? And what do you mean? Malcolm spoke to understanding, he was precise, knowledgeable, and aware on a level that made your head spin. Just watching this movie alone makes me excited and compelled to do something. But of all this, the most important part of the movie, in which it was careful not to go into much detail, was the end, Malcolm’s split from the NOI (Nation of Islam)
You see, I cannot judge neither Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Dr., for what they were for the first part of their lives. For me, what’s important is how they ended their lives. Malcolm X left this world with a different outlook on life and I do believe he understood the truth completely. He discovered the lies and attempted to expose the truth when he was murdered, as did Dr. King (whose entire jaw was blown off as symbolism that you keep your mouth shut). You see, men of this caliber, who spark this much power among black people, they aren’t just killed by random acts of violence, they are murdered and this is not political mumbo jumbo nor is it conspiracy theory; this is conspiracy fact.
In 2010, Malcolm X the film, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Funny Movie Mistakes:
When Malcolm is talking on the telephone in an extreme close up, you can see the connector on the phone is one of the modern snap-in modular jacks. Telephones in the 1960’s did not have those.
Watch the movie and see if you can spot the knot!
“What’s your favorite movie? Why do you love it?”