Editor's note: We asked Christine and Michael Swanson, African-American filmmakers and owners of Faith Filmworks, Inc., to compile this list.

1. A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

directed by Daniel PetrieNot Rated

From the pen of playwright Lorraine Hansberry comes this great American classic-the quintessential black urban drama long before the likes of Boyz 'n the Hood. This film boldly examines the plight of the black working class family in a moving and realistic fashion, with strong and memorable performances from an extraordinary cast. Black dramas no longer get made on any level, much less a level as poignant and significant as this film. Sidney Poitier is Walter Lee Younger, a young man struggling with his station in life. Sharing a tiny apartment with his wife, son, sister and mother, he seems like an imprisoned man. Until, that is, the family gets an unexpected financial windfall. Also stars stage and screen legend Ruby Dee.


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2. Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored (1995)

directed by Tim Reid
Rated PG

A powerful film directed by Tim Reid and starring Al Freeman, Jr. and Phylicia Rashad. Tim Reid succeeds in touching the consciousness of black America and America as a whole by highlighting the struggles of a young boy growing up in a separated and racist South. This film eloquently reminds us that black people have come a long way while wrapping its message in a touching narrative. This independently made film-like A Raisin in the Sun-should be applauded for being a significant black drama at a time when such films are no longer made by a Hollywood studio system. Great cast and performances.

3. Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

directed by Sidney J. Furie
Rated R

Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Leading ...

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