Black History Month Celebration: 1991

February is a month of celebration in the pop culture community — between the Grammy and the Academy Awards, the best in the music and cinema fields will be recognized in the next month. However, between the awards buzz for those two big nights, we want to make not to overshadow February’s significance: Black History Month. So to follow the month’s trend of celebration, we plan to spend all of February going through the most important African-American pop culture personalities of the last 29 years. We continue today with 1991.

When we began this series, there was one thing I demanded — for the inclusion of, somewhere, Boyz n the Hood. The film genre is one in which classics are a determined over time, but for me, Boyz n the Hood was one of those seminal movies that we see once and do not forget.

The story is about South Central Los Angeles, but it might as well be any African-American ghetto in the United States. It’s about two friends both looking to get out, one through academia and the other through athletics. But, far too often in places like South Central, out of two too often becomes one. Ricky, the handsome athlete with plans to plan football at USC, is gunned down by some thugs holding a grudge against Ricky’s brother.

On the other side of the coin is Tre, played marvelously by Cuba Gooding Jr., who survives in academics because of a father (Lawrence Fishburne) that is determined to keep him on the straight and arrow. In the end, Tre wants vengeance so much for his best friend Ricky, but he realizes that fighting crime with crime perpetuates South Central mentality.

John Singleton, writer and director, crafted a story that stands to raise awareness as well as speak on a moral level to those that are already aware. It says both, let’s fix this from a macro level, and for those in the ghetto, to attempt to fix the problem from a micro level. For his efforts, Singleton was rightfully nominated for both directing and writing at the 1992 Oscars, losing to “Silence of the Lambs” and “Thelma & Louise”, respectively.

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