Black Authors and Filmmakers

Paolo Acob and Maha Sanad


In honor of Black History Month, The Pioneer curated a list of films and books by Black authors and filmmakers. Black inventions, education, and history continue to lack representation in public school curriculums, falling upon us as audience members to educate ourselves and one another through the consumption of media and discourse.

“The ‘Black Film Paradigm’ is a collection of actors, crew, stories, and themes that transpire up what we know about blackness in the world of cinema,” according to Steven “The Prof” Cleveland, MFA, Entitled Lecturer Lecturer in the Department of Ethnic Studies & BIPOC Scholars in the Department of History, Steven “The Prof” Cleveland, MFA.

Through the expansion of this paradigm, audiences can be introduced to more stories pertaining to the Black experience in America. Cleveland, MFA states that “it is important for Americans to view Black movies and Black stories as a way to expand this paradigm because this paradigm dictates what things we get to see in the future, so if people aren’t exposed to a diverse Black Film Paradigm then we only get to see the same type of images over and over again.”

As Black History Month concludes, we chose to share amazing stories of Black contributions in America and also film and television that have great Black representation.


Concrete Cowboy (2021)
“Stranger Things,” star Caleb Mclaughlin plays Cole in the Philadelphia Tale of family, fellowship, and horses. In a modern-day telling of the cowboy community located in North Philly, “Sonic The Hedgehog 2,” star Idris Elba leads his son in the way of the cowboy.

The Harder They Fall (2021)
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” star Jonathan Majors leads this epic western tale of Nat Love banding his gang together to take down old foe Rufus Buck, played by Idris Elba. Aside, Majors is joined by Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, and Rj Cyler on their journey to take down Buck and his gang.

One Night In Miami (2020)
Similar to “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019),” One Night In Miami is a fictional account where African-American icons like Muhammed Ali, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, and Jim Brown came together to discuss their role in the Civil Rights Movement happening in the 60s.
Directed by “The Harder They Fall,” star Regina King, this narrative’s concept allows audiences to ponder what it would be like for these iconic figures to meet during a time that required unity of the black community.

King Richard (2021)
Based on the lives of the successful tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, the story follows their father’s steps, played by Will Smith. Coached under their father, the girls would work hard to get to where they are today.
This film was nominated for the Academy Awards in the “Best Picture” category. Will Smith also won an award at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards for “Best Male Actor in a Leading Role” on Feb. 27.

Respect (2021)
Played by Jennifer Hudson, the Aretha Franklin biopic is the incredible story of the music icon’s rise to fame and journey towards finding her voice. This film was recently nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role at the SAG Awards on Feb. 27, 2022.

Summer of Soul (2021)
Directed by the brilliant musician Questlove comes a documentary of the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which celebrated African-American music and culture and promoted pride and community. The film was nominated at the 94th Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature. The awards will be presented on March 27.

Soul (2020)
From the great mind of Pete Docter comes the story of Black Musician Joe Gardner, played by Jamie Foxx, that is fatally killed and sent to a world in between life and death. Partnered with another soul needing guidance, played by Tina Fey, Gardner sets on to teach this soul the beauty of life in exchange for his consciousness back.


Abbott Elementary (2021)
“Abbott Elementary” is a sitcom that follows a group of teachers at a public school in Philadelphia who are determined to see their students succeed in life despite the odds stacked against them. It is a hilarious show with heartwarming moments that feel personal and relatable, created by writer, producer, comedian, and actress Quinta Brunson.

Jeen-Yuhs (2022)
Releasing weekly on Netflix, this documentary begins with a young Kanye West, following his journey through Hip-Hop and the culture. The story gives audiences a sneak peek into his process of making music and following his life as a producer and inspiring rapper.

Euphoria (2019)
Directed by Sam Levinson, this show follows Rue, played by Zendaya, a depressed teenager finding her way through high school and sobriety while also battling addiction, gang violence, and school drama. The show is not afraid of exploring themes of addiction, sexuality, racism, violence, enough to shock fans on every episode’s release.
Achieving in multiple categories, Euphoria was nominated and awarded Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Outstanding Contemporary Makeup, and Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics at the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2020.


You Truly Assumed” by Laila Sabreen

A newly released young-adult contemporary novel follows three young Black Muslim women dealing with Islamaphobia in the wake of a terrorist attack. Author Laila Sabreen’s debut is a compelling and thought-provoking look into the perspective of a young Black Muslim woman, a significantly underrepresented group in media.

Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture” by Aria S. Halliday

A nonfiction novel that examines the role that Black women in America play on Black consumption in the U.S. and all around the world, with an emphasis on their “pivotal role in packaging Black feminine identity since the 1960s.” This is a bold and must-read book exploring real stories representing Black girlhood and womanhood.

Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration” by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts

A refreshing series of essays that share uplifting stories of the evolution of joy, especially in the face of trauma, in the context of Black culture. This novel challenges the one-note narrative that being Black means a life made up solely of trauma and hardship. “Black joy is not just a weapon of resistance; it is a tool for resilience.”

The Violin Conspiracy” by Brendan Slocumb

“The Violin Conspiracy ” is a thrilling mystery novel about a Black prodigious classical musician whose family heirloom violin is stolen the day before he is supposed to perform in the most prestigious classical music competition in the world. This multidimensional story explores family drama that takes place in the present yet has hints of historical fiction. Great for fans of thriller movies!

While Black History Month is celebrated for a mere 28 days a year, we as consumers must continue to educate ourselves and create a safe space for Black voices to rejoice in popular media. Our hopes of curating this list will encourage readers to broaden their libraries, supporting Black stories throughout the year.

“To understand Black Films in this moment, you must understand hip hop in this moment, you must understand art in this moment,” Cleveland expressed when discussing the cohesion of Black history.