The Black List: Vol. 2

Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Black List: Vol. 2 Movie Poster Image
Insightful docu is as informative, inspiring as the first.
  • NR
  • 2009
  • 60 minutes

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Positive Messages

Positive message about racial awareness, empowerment, and the strength of your community. Topics like stereotyping, racial discrimination, and community activism are also discussed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the featured interviewees are high achievers in the arts or other realms, making them positive role models for teens who tune in.


A few pictures of activist Angela Davis getting carried away in handcuffs and being featured on the FBI's "Most Wanted" lists in the 1970s. Some discussions about gang violence.


Mild references to womanizing.


Language includes racial epithets like the "N" word, but these are mostly offered within the context of personal stories. Other words include "hell," "s--t," and "f--k."


Some of the interviewees briefly discuss works that they've written, produced, and/or performed over the years, but it's not in the context of promotion.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some photographs show artists/performers smoking cigarettes. Some discussions about living in areas where drug violence was/is frequent -- but these stories are offered within the context of explaining what some interviewees had to overcome.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this insightful documentary continues the exploration and celebration of the black experience in the United States begun in The Black List: Vol. 1. Like the first film, it offers positive messages about racial awareness and community but also touches on some strong issues -- including discrimination and AIDS. Some interviewees use strong language, including the "N" word and curses like "s--t" and "f--k".

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What's the story?

THE BLACK LIST: VOL. 2 is the second installment in the "The Black List Project" documentary series, which collects first-hand narratives about the African-American experience. The film features excerpts from 15 interviews with a diverse ensemble of notable African Americans, including Saturday Night Live sketch comedienne Maya Rudolph, actor/director Laurence Fishburne, country music singer Charley Pride, Anglican Bishop Barbara C. Harris, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Each of their stories offers insight into how they make sense of being a black person in America -- and about how their own unique cultural identity has shaped them into who and what they are today.

Is it any good?

Vol. 2's impact may be somewhat lessened by its now-predictable format, but the stories it has to tell are no less significant. These narratives give viewers the chance to better understand the power that comes with being racially aware -- as well as highlight how this awareness can positively impact the way people view themselves in society.

Like its predecessor, Vol. 2 introduces viewers to some of America's preeminent African-American educators, activists, artists, and leaders. It also draws attention to the diversity of thought, experience, and point of view within the African-American community. Ultimately, the film beautifully reflects the mission of The Black List Project: to document experiences that will continue to help us redefine race and its role in American society.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about "The Black List" that inspired the movie. Who else do you think should be added to this list? Why?

  • Families can also discuss the African-American experience in the United States. What can African Americans' history in this country teach us? What lessons can the history of other racial and ethnic groups in America offer?

  • How can the media be used to teach more about these issues?

Movie details

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