Guide To Staying Woke

Although it’s easy to resort to a light-hearted chick flick when picking a movie, mix it up and watch some stimulating informative entertainment. These four films will help you stay socially aware.

Illustration by Leon Lau


Another one of Ava DuVernay’s award-winning films, Selma tells the story of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches for African-American voting rights. These marches were led and run by Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, James Bevel and Hosea Williams. Gut wrenching and emotional, Selma begins with a scene of the KKK bombing in the Birmingham, Alabama 16th Street Baptist Church, killing multiple young African American girls. This movie discusses racism during the Civil Rights Movement, as well as depicting the power of media coverage. Additionally, we begin to learn about other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement besides Martin Luther King Jr, such as John Lewis – a changemaker and politician in America today.

Hidden Figures

Embark on the triumphant journey of three African-American female mathematicians as they serve an essential role in the inner workings of the NASA United States Space Program in the 1960’s. This movie is not a documentary, but a fictionalized retelling of the story of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan and their work as human computers at NASA. Despite their brilliance, these women faced tremendous challenges in the engineering world because of their race and sex. Throughout the film you will witness the numerous barriers these women face such as traveling across the entire NASA complex in order to simply go to the bathroom. Through grace, perseverance and true intellect these women make a truly remarkable impact on the successes of NASA’s space exploration.

The Return

The 2016 documentary The Return follows two men on their journey of reintegration into society after years of incarceration through this 90 minute documentary. When California passed Proposition 36, it changed the “Three Strikes” law, which states that after your third strike as a criminal you are stuck in prison for life, and set thousands of men who previously spent decades in prison free. By watching the struggle of two men who were released after the passing of Proposition 36– and the conflicts they face in order to make a life for themselves outside of prison– you will witness how seemingly impossible it is for a recently incarcerated person to find a job. You will surely be moved as you watch these men reunite with their families and meet grandchildren for the first time. This documentary brings you on the painful and emotionally exhausting journey of reintegration into a world outside of prison.


Director Ava DuVernay helped create the universally acclaimed documentary Thirteenth. Named after the Thirteenth Amendment, which states that all slaves gain their right to freedom, this documentary discusses our nation’s racial history and how remnants of systemic segregation continue to apply to life today. From watching this film you learn that the supposedly abolished culture surrounding Jim Crow Laws in the 1960’s continue to exist through de facto forms of segregation and racism, manifested specifically in our prison system. One in three black men can expect to end up in prison at least once in their lifetimes, and Thirteenth does not fail to provide information that proves racism continues to exist in America today.

Other Movies To Watch: Loving, Moonlight, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Marshall