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Rudolph and elves are cool, but this list of holiday movies stand out for celebrating the season from an African-American perspective.

Holiday movies have become a tradition that we all look forward to—a perfect way to spend quality time with our families after opening presents and eating dinner. It’s especially comforting to watch films that reminds us of what makes African-Americans—and how we celebrate—special.

The following movies are guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, hug your loved ones, and get in the holiday spirit. So grab yourself a cup of cocoa and sit down to watch some of our old favorites. You may discover a few new ones, too!

Best Man Holiday

If you missed Best Man Holiday last year, run to the nearest store and pick up the DVD. As Harper, Lance, Jordan, and the gang come together to celebrate Christmas, we see them as adults with new issues and new challenges, but with the same infectious chemistry. This long awaited sequel offers what we loved in the original: style, humor, drama, and love above all else.

The Preacher’s Wife

A preacher on the verge of losing his faith, his church, and his marriage prays for help—which arrives in an unexpected form.

This holiday remake of Carey Grant’s The Bishop’s Wife stars the beautiful and incomparable Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance, and Denzel Washington. The message of love and faith are strong, just like the movie’s impressive soundtrack and talented cast.

Santa, Baby!

Santa, Baby!

This animated special is a throwback the entire family can enjoy. A little girl asks a magical partridge to grant a unique wish: help her uninspired songwriter father create his next big hit. With the amazing voice talents of Patti LaBelle, Eartha Kitt, Vanessa Williams, and Gregory Hines, Santa, Baby! gives the gift of music.

The Perfect Holiday

A department store Santa and aspiring musician (Morris Chestnut) decides to fulfill a little girl’s wish for her lonely single mother (Gabrielle Union). With a crazed ex-husband (Charlie Murphy), mischievous sons, and a lie that keeps growing, a lot stands in the way of Santa making this little girl’s dream come true.

Katt Williams, Faison Love, Terrence Howard, and Queen Latifah add laughter and magic to this holiday romance.

Last Holiday

Queen Latifah and LL Cool J star in this remake that has become a holiday staple. After learning that her safe life is slipping away from her, Georgia Byrd (Latifah) decides to live life to the fullest. Last Holiday is not only perfect for the holiday season, it’s a reminder to all of us to live the life you want.

Black Nativity

Based on the Langston Hughes’ play by the same name, Black Nativity is a musical starring Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Forrest Whitaker, Mary J. Blige, and Tyrese Gibson.

When single mother Naima (Hudson) receives an eviction notice, she sends her son Langston (Jacob Latimore) to stay with the devout grandparents he’s never met. Despite an uncertain future and a family rift, the true meaning of the holiday takes center stage.

A Diva’s Christmas Carol

Vanessa Williams is an R&B Scrooge in this recent take on Dickens’ classic tale. This version by VH1 features Williams as Ebony, a mean-spirited pop sensation who realizes her career and her future are in jeopardy after being visited by three spirits and the ghost of her best friend Marley (TLC’s Chilli).

This Christmas

Now a holiday classic, This Christmas has everything the holidays have: family love, traditions, and drama. Loretta Devine plays Ma’Dere, a loving and strong matriarch anxious for her children (Regina King, Idris Elba, Sharon Leal, Columbus Short, Lauren London, and Chris Brown) to come home for the holidays. As the story unfolds, each of the children and their mother must face a truth about themselves and each other. There are many laughs, tears, and secrets among this star-studded cast. 

Holiday Heart

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In a role like we’d never seen him in before, Ving Rames is Holiday, a drag queen choir director who meets Niki, a young girl whose mother (Alfre Woodard) is struggling with drug addiction. Despite the title, the movie is not holiday-themed, but Christmas is in the background and love and family—the one you’re born into, and the one you create—are at the center.

Dear Secret Santa

Dear Secret Santa is a lesser-known, sweet story that’s part A Christmas Carol, part romance. Tatyana Ali stars as Jennifer, a successful—but hardened—businesswoman who uses work as an escape from her emotions.

She unexpectedly returns home during the holidays and begins exchanging letters with a secret admirer. Jordin Sparks, Bill Cobbs, and the legendary Della Reese round out the cast.

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Meilan Carter-Gilkey is a freelance writer and a writing coach who blogs about being a parent of sons 16 years apart. She has an MFA from Mills College in creative writing and her work has appeared in Mutha Magazine, Heart&Soul, and elsewhere.  


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