Spotted in the Stacks

Spotted in the Stacks: DVD Selections for Black History Month

We’re celebrating the final week of Black History Month with film.

Fruitvale Station

On New Year’s Day 2009, 22-year-old Bay Area father Oscar Grant was inexplicably detained and shot by regional transit officers. Grant’s murder, captured on camera by his fellow passengers, sent the nation reeling and incited a wave of protests both peaceful and violent. This difficult film won awards at Sundance and Cannes, among others, for its thoughtful portrayal of a senseless, devastating event.



Roots of Resistance: The Story of the Underground Railroad

From American Experience: “At the time of the Civil War, one of every eight people living in the United States was considered the legal property of someone else. Men and women, black and white, risked their lives to carve an elaborate network of escape routes out of slavery that became known as the Underground Railroad.”




Winner of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award and several NAACP Image Awards, Selma is a dramatic retelling of Martin Luther King’s 1965 campaign in the face of violent opposition to secure equal voting rights for black Americans.



Percy Julian: Forgotten Genius

A NOVA documentary about the life and accomplishments of the first black chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. Julian persevered through onslaughts of racism to make discoveries that help define modern medicine. His methods for synthesizing drugs from plants led to treatments for arthritis, glaucoma, and many other medical issues.



Love and Basketball

This romantic drama, which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, follows two young people as they navigate both their relationship and their aspirations to become professional basketball players. The debut film of Gina Prince-Bythewood, who went on to direct The Secret Life of Bees and Beyond the Lights.


51udluBQHnL._SX940_ when the levees broke

When the Levees Broke

While perhaps better known for fictional portrayals of life urban communities such as Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever, controversial and award-winning moviemaker Spike Lee has also created a variety of documentary films. Structured as “A Requiem in Four Acts,” When the Levees Broke tells the heartbreaking personal stories of those who endured both Hurricane Katrina’s catastrophic passage through New Orleans and the inept, inadequate handling of its aftermath.


MV5BMTM1MTMzMjk3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTY0MjU0NQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_ mavis staples

Rejoice and Shout

Described as “a jubilant journey through gospel music history,” this film features music by The Blind Boys of Alabama, Mavis Staple, Mahalia Jackson, and The Dixie Hummingbirds.

These films and many others are available on DVD at the library; ask for them at your next visit or click on the link to place a hold on a title.