The One Story: HBCUs And The Gatekeeping Of Black Culture
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UPDATED 10:30 p.m. ET, July 3, 2021

2021 marks the second straight year that the Fourth of July will be observed during the pandemic. And with the delta variant being even more contagious than previous iterations of COVID-19, no one would blame you if you decided to keep a low profile and just hang out and watch a movie with immediate family or by yourself for the long holiday weekend.

People may be itching for a return to so-called normalcy, but Black folks, in particular, need to be extra careful about being around large groups for the holiday — something we have always loved to do at the proverbial as well as the literal “cookout” that is typically held on birthdays, holidays and, well, any day, really.

(Not to mention, last month’s widespread observations of Juneteenth — which is also known as Black Liberation Day — may have influenced some Black people to decide to recognize that new federal holiday as their true Independence Day and therefore have less interest this year in the Fourth of July than they did in years past.)

Luckily, there is a wide range of choices for streaming services, which have been the necessary evil to help keep homebound cinephiles and random film buffs satisfied and then some.

In fact, if you can’t make the physical escape elsewhere for the weekend, you may as well try to let your mind take you elsewhere by indulging in a flick or two, or even binge-watching more than that. Considering the social circumstances around the globe, this Fourth of July might honestly be better spent getting your Netflix and chill on.

There are tons of films with Black casts that will keep you laughing and not sweating from the outside heat. Let’s face it, laughter is the best medicine especially with the Trump stress weighing down on communities across the nation.

As an added bonus, there won’t be any Karens who show up to stop the fun in any of the movies on this list. People can grab their movie snacks or some barbecue, sit back and enjoy the show. Here are some good choices for your movie and chill day.


This 2006 film starred T.I. and Lauren London, taking viewers into the world of roller skating in Atlanta. The high school-age characters also face several pivotal turning points in their lives.

The Cookout

This 2004 movie starred Quran Pender, Queen Latifah and Jenifer Lewis. As the name implies, a Black family comes together for a cookout that gets pretty interesting.

Boyz n The Hood

This 1991 film is one of the classics. The movie, set in inner-city Los Angeles, catapulted Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube to fame.

The Inkwell

A young Larenz Tate and Jada Pinkett (before she married Will Smith) light up the screen in this 1994 film. Before Tate captured women’s affections in Love Jones, he captured hearts in this coming-of-age film set in Martha’s Vineyard during the Fourth Of July weekend of 1976.

Poetic Justice

The legendary Maya Angelou provided the poetic words that powered this 1993 film that starred the iconic Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. Jackson and Shakur’s characters fall in love in the film, which featured a barbecue scene.

Do The Right Thing

This 1989 film was one of Spike Lee‘s memorable and rawest journeys into inner-city life. Set on the hottest day of the year in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, the film is a searing look at what happens when heat meets hate as the characters struggle with racial frustrations that ultimately boil over into chaos. But in reaching the tipping point, Lee still shows the community’s spirit.

Barbershop 2: Back In Business

This 2004 comedy starring Ice Cube and Queen Latifah will bring the laughs. The movie, focused on a Chicago barbershop’s importance to its community, has a barbecue scene that shows off Latifah and Cedric the Entertainer‘s comedic chops.

Menace II Society

This 1993 film is another cult classic that stars Pinkett and Tate. At the heart of the film set in Watts, Calfornia, the main character, Caine, played by Tyrin Turner, is trying to find his way to a better life.

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

This 2008 film isn’t one of Martin Lawrence‘s best-known films, but it stars a lot of comedian talents including Mo’ Nique, Cedric The Entertainer and Mike Epps. Lawrence’s character returns home after achieving fame only to find out that his family could care less about his status.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

This 1998 film had a braided-up Angela Bassett finding her to Jamaica to, well, get her groove back after a divorce and some major work stress. While there, she meets a young man played by Taye Diggs that piques her interest. Then, their lives both intertwine and change forever. Oh, there’s a good barbecue scene in this film, too.


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