MLK Day Movie Marathon: A Guide To The Most Entertaining, Least Preachy Movies About Race

  • guess-who

    [Photos: Columbia Pictures]

  • jungle_fever

    [Photo: 40 Acres and a Mule]

  • save-the-last-dance-mlk

    [Photo: MTV Films]

  • west-side-story-mlk

    [Photo: United Artists]

  • hairspray-mlk

    [Photo: New Line Cinema]

  • to-sir-with-love

    [Photo: Columbia Pictures]

  • stand-and-deliver

    [Photo: Warner Bros.]

  • white-men-cant-jump

    [Photo: 20th Century Fox]

  • dotherightthing

    [Photo: Forty Acres and a Mule]

  • Harold-and-Kumar-mlk

    [Photo: New Line Cinema]

On this Martin Luther King Day, we hope you’ve already taken the time to meaningfully commemorate the late civil rights leader. (Go volunteer or something, then come back to this post; we’ll wait.) We’re probably not your first source for guidance in that matter. We do, however, think we can help make the day enjoyable without being too shallow. Movie marathon time!

There are three types of civil rights-focused movies: the historical dramas that remind you of the way things used to be and the sacrifices people have made to change them (12 Years a Slave and The Butler are shining examples this year); the issue pics that remind you there is still work to be done and make you want to stand up and take action (buy/rent Fruitvale Station ASAP); and finally, the films that are so damn entertaining (even funny, romantic and sexy) that you don’t remember them as being about race, though they might have even changed the way you think about it. Category 3 is what we’re talking about here.

We’ve included 10 films for you to watch today, or later — from classic classics like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and West Side Story, to cult faves like Stand and DeliverSave the Last Dance and Do the Right Thing. Some of our choices might surprise you, but all of them have something interesting to say about stereotypes, discrimination and why it’d be so much better if we could all just get along.