Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Black Films That Matter

 July 3, 2020 at 5:00 PM PDT
Ways To Subscribe
David F. Walker (writer of "Shaft" and "Luke Cage" comics, and graphic novels on Frederick Douglas and The Black Panther Party) picks some Black films that matter to provide context for today's protests. We discuss the controversial 1973 film "The Spook Who Sat By The Door" that United Artists pulled from release; Melvin Van Peebles' "The Watermelon Man" in which Godfrey Cambridge plays a white man who wakes up Black one morning; "Cornbread, Earl and Me" about an innocent Black kid shot dead by police; and more. We explore why these films are still relevant and how that provide insight into race in America. WARNING: Contains explicit language and language that may be offensive.

David F. Walker, author of the upcoming "The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel," talks more about the research he's done for his book and I have my full interview with a member of the San Diego Original Black Panther Party, Henry Lee Wallace V. So I stray off the film path for this bonus or perhaps it's better titled a companion podcast to Black Films That Matter. Walker talks about the Black Panthers and their legacy while Wallace recounts how he joined the party as a teenager and now serves as chairman of the reactivated San Diego Black Panther Party. A little history rather than cinema for a change of pace. Check out the companion Black Films that Matter Podcast:

Comic book writer David F. Walker ("Shaft," "Luke Cage") recommends some films from Blaxploitation Cinema to the present day that help provide context and insight into current protests over police brutality and racism.

As someone who grew up in the 1960s, I have seen protests before and am hopeful that the current ones will produce genuine change. But I also feel like so much of the current conversation sounds painfully familiar, we are still talking about racial inequality, police brutality, systemic racism and more. So I thought it might be good to frame today’s protests in the context of some films that have raised these issues before in creative ways.

Film can be a great educational tool. It’s readily accessible, less intimidating than opening a book, and more fun than listening to a lecture. At its best film engages you through story and character so that it appeals to you on a very emotional or visceral level. Films may not be able to change the world but they can shine a light on problems and issues, and stir discussion that can be the first steps to change.

David F. Walker is the author of the upcoming "The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel."
David F. Walker/Ten Speed Press
David F. Walker is the author of the upcoming "The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel."

I am thrilled and honored to have writer, filmmaker and publisher David F. Walker drive this conversation about Black films that matter. In addition to working on Marvel's "Luke Cage" and "Power Man and Iron Fist," and Dynamite Entertainment’s "Shaft," he has written a graphic novel on Frederick Douglas and an upcoming one on The Black Panther Party. Walker and I share a love for Blaxploitation Cinema and if you want to dig back into the Cinema Junkie archives look for Episode 60.

Here is where you can find some of the films we discussed.

"The Spook Who Sat By the Door"

"Cornbread, Earl and Me"

"The Killing Floor"

"The Great White Hope"

"The Watermelon Man"

"When They See Us"

"The Central Park Five"

"I Am Not Your Negro"

"Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise of Jack Johnson"

"Coffy" and "Foxy Brown"

"Eyes on the Prize

"Slavery and the Making of America" and "Reconstruction" documentaries