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10 of the Best Black Coming-of-Age Films That Preceded ‘Dope’

Recently released coming-of-age film Dope, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, follows a long line of successful Black movies that evoke the nostalgia about the young years we never want to forget. A favorite out of the Sundance Film Festival, Dope follows high school senior Malcolm Adekanbi who most would consider a Blerd (Black nerd) as he embarks on some troublesome adventures in his rough Los Angeles neighborhood. Here are 10 other classic movies that also capture the Black youth culture  from various perspectives.



Cooley High (1975)

Directed by Michael Schultz, Cooley High is about Chicago best friends Richard “Cochise” Morris, a local basketball player, and Leroy “Preach” Jackson, an aspiring writer, are students attending Cooley High School in 1964. Cochise and Preach meet girls, hang out with their friends and occasionally cross the path of those who do not have the best intentions for them.



Boyz n the Hood (1991)

In Boyz n the Hood, directed by John Singleton, Tre Styles at 10 years old, after being originally raised by his mother, is sent to live with his father in South Central Los Angeles, where he is reunited with his childhood friends. As they grow into their teenage years, these friends find different fates such as two of them being initiated into a gang, one being disabled and having to use a wheelchair after being shot, one becoming a promising recruit for numerous colleges as a star running back for Crenshaw High School and Tre with the hopes of attending college. These young men encounter racist police, unwavering turf wars as an extension to gang violence and the struggle to survive.

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One thought on “10 of the Best Black Coming-of-Age Films That Preceded ‘Dope’

  1. James Deame says:

    Unfortunately, "Dope" has been a major box-office failure. It hasn't even made back what it was paid for at Sundance. The studio that acquired and released it, Open Road, gets much credit for giving it a wide release, since Black films rarely get that respect, but this film is too offbeat and narrow is scope to survive the summer blockbuster rush which is why it's been eaten alive. It does not hold a candle to true classic Black cinema benchmarks like "Cooley High" and "Boyz n the Hood" (a 90s version of "Cooley High"). Neither does "Yelling to the Sky," a film that had many schematic problems from beginning to end. The writer of this piece must be friends with the filmmakers of "Dope" and "Yelling to the Sky." Stop the madness.

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