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Throughout March, the works and achievements of women are being recognized nationwide.
In honor of Women’s History Month, here are five documentaries to watch about Black women who pioneered their fields.
- Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed: Released in 2004, this documentary by the legendary Shola Lynch covers the life of Shirley Chilsom, the first Black woman to serve as congresswoman. “Chilsolm ‘72” focuses specifically on the politician’s presidential run for the Democratic party nominee in 1972, a campaign that helped her break another barrier and made her the first Black woman to run for president. Upon its release, the documentary received rave reviews, winning the creators the Peabody Award.
- Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai: This 2008 documentary tells the story of the late political activist Wangari Maathai. Known as the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize when she was awarded the honor in 2004, Maaathi made a name as the founder of the Green Belt Movement; started in 1977, the Kenyan organization promoted the empowerment of women by tree-planting. The documentary follows Maathai’s life, including key moments such as how the activist got the idea for the organization that would save the whole country from deforestation.
- Tina: Available on HBO, this 2021 documentary is all about the career and personal life of music legend Tina Turner. Considered the “Queen of Rock’n’Roll,” Turner is a 12-time Grammy winner, a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and is known as one of the best-selling recording artists in all of the music industry’s history. Featuring interviews by Turner herself, Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey and Le’Juene Fletcher, amongst others, the Emmy-nominated documentary chronicles her rise to success from Nutbush, Tennessee.
- Women of Troy: This HBO Sports documentary focuses specifically on the story of the 1980s women’s basketball team of the University of Southern California. Released in 2020, “Women of Troy” explores the successes of the Cheryl Miller and Cynthia Cooper-led team as they revolutionized women’s basketball. Along with emphasis on the team’s individual awards, the documentary also focuses on the influence that the 1980s USC Trojans had on the WNBA and its formation.
- Betty: They Say I’m Different: Released in 2017, “Betty: They Say I’m Different” chronicles the life and career of the late funk pioneer Betty Davis. Titled after her 1974 second studio album, the documentary looks at her rise from roots in a small steel town and her subsequent walking away from the industry, exploring her impact on the 70s music scene with her personality, music and fashion. The documentary also looks at her relationships with musicians such as her ex-husband Miles Davis, Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix.