In the first preview for The Hate U Give, which premiered during the BET Awards on Sunday, Amandla Stenberg stars as a young girl moved to fight for social justice after her unarmed friend is killed by a police officer. The Hate U Give trailer will fuel your inner activist, and we’ve rounded up seven more films that will inspire you to advocate and strive for social justice.
In the trailer from The Hate U Give, which is based on Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel of the same name, viewers meet Starr, a teenager who straddles the harsh streets of her mostly-black neighborhood and her primarily white school, where she tries her best to fly under the radar.
However, she and her friend Khalil, played by Algee Smith, are stopped by the police while driving around one night, and when Khalil reaches to grab a hairbrush out of the driver’s seat, he is shot and killed. Traumatized and outraged, Starr forgoes the status quo, resolving to fight back against police brutality, and finds her own voice by speaking up. Towards the end of the trailer, her dad, played by Russell Hornsby, tells her, "When you ready to talk, you talk. Don’t ever let nobody make you be quiet."
Just the trailer alone is seriously inspiring, and while the film doesn’t premiere until October 19, here are seven other powerful movies you can watch right now to learn more about the fight for social justice.
This Oscar-winning 2008 film follows Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn, as he fights for gay rights in San Francisco in the late 1970s, revitalizing the Castro district before going on to become California’s first openly gay official elected into public office when he earned a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, before his tragic assassination in 1978.
2. He Named Me Malala
He Named Me Malala tells the story of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who, after she was nearly killed by the Taliban for advocating on behalf of female education, became one of the world’s most recognizable activists and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate ever. Talk about motivation.
3. The Cove
In 2015, activist and dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry partnered with filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and Colorado-based non-profit, the Ocean Preservation Society, to expose the gruesome capture and killing of dolphins by fisherman in Taipei, Japan. This documentary follows their trek as they risk their lives to shine a light on the brutal practice.
4. How to Survive a Plague
This 2012 film tracks the efforts of members of activist groups ACT UP and TAG as they fought to bring attention to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Facing prejudice and indifference from those in power, they brought national awareness to the cause and helped spearhead the search for a cure.
Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed 2014 drama follows the historic 1965 marches to Selma, Alabama led by Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, James Bevel, and John Lewis to fight for voting rights.
6. Bowling for Columbine
In 2002, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Michael Moore traced the events leading up to the horrific shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, exploring gun violence in America and the country’s high murder rate. Ever the provocateur, he also confronted Kmart employees about selling guns, and he even meets with actor Charlton Heston to ask about his support of the National Rifle Association. The documentary’s themes are unfortunately still very timely.
7. The Supreme Price
In this 2014 film, following the arrest of her father, then the Nigerian president-elect, and her mother’s murder, orchestrated by a military dictatorship, Hafsat Abiola fights to alter the political landscape of Nigeria. As Abiola fights to turn the corrupt government into a democracy, the sea of change finds marginalized women stepping into leadership roles.
In a time when activism and speaking truth to power is so crucial, from The Hate U Give to Milk, these films can serve as both encouraging examples and field guides for people who want to make a difference.
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