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How to watch free classic movies about black lives in solidarity with ongoing protests

Maya Angelou’s ‘Down in the Delta,’ Julie Dash’s ‘Daughters of the Dust,’ and other titles are now streaming for free on the Criterion Channel to highlight films by and about black people.

How to watch free classic movies about black lives in solidarity with ongoing protests
[Image: Criterion; PubliKado/Pixabay]

What: A treasure trove of cinematic enlightenment, streaming for free

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Who: The Criterion Channel

Why we care: The wave of recent protests following George Floyd’s death has revitalized the necessary national conversation about race. In order to educate people about racism, those in the know have been circulating essential reading and viewing lists. There is now a growing interest around films such as Julie Dash’s American South-set Daughters of the Dust, which in 1991 became the first film directed by an African American woman to receive a wide release.

Now, Criterion Collection is making it a whole lot easier to see the film, along with many other intimate and expansive portraits of black lives.

As announced on Twitter earlier this afternoon, Criterion is doing its part to recognize the magnitude of the moment and help expand viewers’ horizons by offering a dozen of its films to stream for free. The list of offerings includes “works by early pioneers of African American Cinema such as Oscar Micheaux (Body and Soul); classics by Maya Angelou (Down in the Delta), Julie Dash, William Greaves (Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One), Kathleen Collins (Losing Ground), Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman), and Charles Burnett (My Brother’s Wedding); contemporary work by Khalik Allah (Black Mother) and Leilah Weinraub (Shakedown); and documentary portraits of black experience by white filmmakers Les Blank (A Poem is a Naked Person) and Shirley Clarke (Portrait of Jason).”

In addition, Criterion announced it would start an employee-guided fund to support organizations combatting racism in America, with a $25,000 initial give and an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment.

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It’s another example of a public-facing company responding responsibly to, and in solidarity with, the Black Lives Matter movement.

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