“Cooley High” is a classic in the Black film canon but sets itself apart as one of the few true Black coming-of-age films. The 1975 film tells the story of two high school friends with big dreams who are growing up in Chicago during the 1960s. Set against a classic Motown soundtrack, the boys cut school to hang out and chase girls. But their lives are forever changed when their teenage hijinks include hanging with the wrong crowd.
“Hollywood Shuffle” is a 1987 satirical film directed by Robert Townsend that uses comedy to provide commentary on the stereotypical roles and portrayals of Black people in film and television. Bobby Taylor (Townsend) is an aspiring actor living with his family and working at a hot dog stand while hoping for his big break. He goes through the process of auditioning for the lead role in “Jivetime Jimmy’s Revenge” excited about the idea of becoming a big star and the money and changes it will bring for his family. But the experience also exposes him to the industry’s prejudiced beliefs about Black people and leads to questions about his morals and integrity.
A review of School Daze, a 1988 Spike Lee film (or shall I say “joint”) about the divisions between various factions on the campus of a fictional HBCU. Former friends turned foes, Dap and Julian are leaders of their respective social groups on Mission College’s campus. Interactions their crews as well as other individuals during homecoming weekend lead to conversations about colorism, classism, sexism, hazing, Black identity, and more.