Music Lists

Best Moments of Black History Month 2021

From Shmurda to Janet Jackson to Zendaya making that mac and cheese.

Bobby Shmurda on his first day out is a mood

via GQ

We made it through another Black History Month, and after the rollercoaster of 2020, this year more than ever we approached the month with celebration and caution.

After the protests of summer 2020 and the fatigue of the election, it felt good just to celebrate Blackness instead of mourn it.

However, there was the risk it would be a month full of Nancy Pelosi in a kente-cloth and other pandering bullsh*t. But we're in the clear, and despite the persisting pandemic, enough Black culture moments broke through the mess to carry us through.
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Top Stories

Friday Film Club: Andra Day Anchors "The United States vs Billie Holiday"

The "Strange Fruit" singer is an example of the toll celebrity takes on vulnerable women, especially Black women.

The last in the triptych of blockbuster Black movies premiering this Black history month — the former being Malcom & Marie and Judas and the Black Messiah — is the biographical feature film The United States vs Billie Holiday.

The Billie Holiday biopic has been long in the works. Finally, the story of Billie Holiday and her persecution by the US government is streaming on Hulu.

Big names have all teamed up to carry the weight of the story, from director Lee Daniels of The Butler to a screenplay based on the book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari adapted by award winning-playwright Suzan Lori-Parks. The film also stars Trevante Rhodes of Moonlight, Da'Vine Joy Randolph of High Fidelity, and Andra Day, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter known for "Rise Up" as Holiday herself.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday - Trailer (Official) • A Hulu Original

The film sees Holiday at the height of her career, battling the censorship from the government, racism in her life and around her, and a drug addiction. The United States vs Billie Holiday makes clear that Holiday's smear campaigns, surveillance, and brief imprisonment were an effort to stop her from singing "Strange Fruit" — a carefully calculated operation by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics who feared Holiday's song would incite protest and unrest.

The song "Strange Fruit," known as one of the first and greatest commercial protest songs, is a haunting, unflinching condemnation of lynching and is now Holiday's legacy; but most people don't know its significance to Holiday nor the country.

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Top Stories

Lupita Nyong'o's "Sulwe" at Netflix Is an Important Step for Representation of Black Girls

Netflix just picked up "Sulwe" by Lupita Nyong'o, a book about a girl "the color of midnight"

Sulwe, the children's book by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o is coming to Netflix as an animated musical.

The book is about a girl born "the color of midnight" and her journey to self-acceptance. Based in part on Nyong'o's own experience as a dark-skinned woman, the semi-autobiographical book boasts/carries themes of self-love and anti-colorism.

Nyong'o, who struggled with self-image as a child because of her skin tone, called the book "a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colorism."

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Culture Feature

Iconic Moments in Black History: The Legacy of "Black Panther"

Happy 3 year anniversary of the Black Panther film — a cultural phenomenon that showed the power of Black cinema

It's hard to believe that three years and one day ago, we lived in a world without the Black Panther movie.

The Marvel franchise is not lacking content. After years of movies about white, male superheroes and the success of the Avengers franchise, the Marvel Universe decided to take an unprecedented "risk" on a movie about the lesser known Black Panther — a movie that would have a predominantly Black cast.

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Film Features

INTERVIEW: The Lucas Bros Talk Writing "Judas and the Black Messiah"

Keith and Kenny Lucas, co-writers of Judas and the Black Messiah, talk BLM, Ryan Coogler, and balancing optimism and optimism.

Judas and the Black Messiah has been 9 years in the making.

In 2012, Keith and Kenny Lucas, comedians, actors and writers, decided to make a movie about Fred Hampton. Hampton was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and deputy chairman of the national Black Panther Party in the '60s. Chairman was assassinated by the FBI's counterintelligence program (known as COINTELPRO), which targeted Hampton and other Black radicals.

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Culture Feature

Amanda Gorman and 8 Other Young Black Poets To Support

Amanda Gorman is giving poetry a wider platform and it's about time.

The girl! The jacket! The star of the show!

When Amanda Gorman performed her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the 2021 Inauguration, both she and the poem went viral.

Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest ever Inaugural poet, immediately became a household name for managing to do the impossible: give a hopeful and earnest message of change at a tense political event while also giving poetry a wider stage.

Gorman's two unreleased books, the lyrical children's picture book "Change Sings: A Children's Anthem" and her debut collection "The Hill We Climb and Other Poems," are already highly anticipated and a special edition of "The Hill We Climb" is set to be released this Spring with a foreword from Oprah.

Combined with a Time magazine cover, an interview with Michelle Obama, a contract with IMG Models, and her recent performance at the Super Bowl (where she was the first poet to ever read at the event), Gorman is a verifiable celebrity poet.

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