African American Department Collection and State Library Resources

From Page to Script – Classic African American Stories Turned into Motion Pictures

Highlighting best-selling fiction and non-fiction written about African-Americans that went from books to the silver or television screens. The film links next to individual titles will lead you to the Internet Movie Database site (IMDb) with information about the movie or television version of these adapted books. The Pratt Library does not currently own these films. * denotes that a book, DVD or VHS is available for this title, all though a link could not be provided. Please consult our catalog for this information. All other links will also guide you to our catalog.

Finding Fish: A Memoir  film (2001) by Antwone Fisher F499.C69N33 2001. Fisher overcomes the pain of a neglectful, abusive childhood and homelessness with the help of a psychiatrist who becomes a confidant and source of encouragement while he is in the Navy.

The Pursuit of Happyness DVD (2006) by Chris Gardner HG4928.5.G365 2006. Gardner relays his story of peril to progress from the mean streets of Milwaukee to the competitive grind of Wall Street.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X DVD (1965) by Malcolm X (Alex Haley) E185.97.L5 A3 1992 Epic retelling of the dynamic life of ex-con turned activist and faithful minister of Islam, Malcolm X as he told his story to Alex Haley.

Mama Flora’s Family DVD* (1998) by Alex Haley. Mama Flora holds her children and grandchildren together in turmoil-filled modern times as she reflects on the struggles of her past.

Queen VHS (1993) by Alex Haley E185.97.H24A3 1993. Haley traces three generations of his family from great-great grandfather James Jackson in Ireland to his grandmother Queen in America.

Roots DVD (1976) by Alex Haley E185.97 .H24 A33 2007. Roots is the story of Kunte Kinte, who was kidnapped from Africa and made a slave in America. It follows Kinte’s family line through seven generations.

A Raisin in the Sun DVD (1959) by Lorraine Hansberry PS3515.A52R31988. A $10,000 insurance check is the dream bearer that each member of the Younger family has been waiting for. However its arrival renders more heartache than realized dreams.

Their Eyes Were Watching God  DVD* (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston. Free spirit Janie Crawford recalls the story of her life and the love of her three husbands.

The Secret Life of Bees DVD* (2002) by Sue Monk Kidd. A picture of a black Madonna leads 14-year old Lily and her caretaker Rosaleen to Tiburon, South Carolina where they encounter honey makers and sisters May, June and August Boatwright. The picture and the sisters unlock the mystery of Lily’s mother who stay with the sisters before being accidently killed.

There Are No Children Here film (1991) by Alex Kotlowitz HQ792.U5K681991. Real life brothers Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers navigate fragile childhoods in a violent, gangriddled housing project on Chicago's West Side.

The Soloist DVD (2008) by Steve Lopez ML418 .A96 L66 2008. The true story of musical savant Nathaniel Ayers, who when he is homeless and suffering from mental illness, is rediscovered and brought out of obscurity by journalist Steve Lopez.

Miracle at St. Anna DVD (2003) by James McBride. Black American soldiers fight the enemy and racial prejudice in the Italian mountains during World War II.

Disappearing Acts film (1989) by Terry McMillan. Zora, an aspiring singer, and Franklin, a struggling carpenter, battle life and each other in this star-crossed saga about love and survival.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back DVD* (1996) by Terry McMillan. Stella Payne has everything except a loving relationship with a man. Yet on an impromptu trip to Jamaica she meets Winston, a man twenty years her junior and soon discovers that loving a younger man makes her reevaluate her passions and expectations.

Waiting to Exhale DVD* (1992) by Terry McMillan. Four African American women living in Phoenix mix friendship, joy and pain in their undying search for the perfect men of their dreams.

Beloved VHS (1987) by Toni Morrison. Sethe, an ex-slave woman living in post-Civil War Ohio desires freedom in every sense of the word. Yet her desire is swallowed whole by the return of the spirit of her dead baby girl who is seeking revenge.

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned VHS (1997) by Walter Mosley. Socrates Fortlow, an ex-con, tries to rebuild his life by helping strangers and old friends.

Devil in a Blue Dress DVD (1990) by Walter Mosley. 1948 Los Angeles is the backdrop to Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins life. Recently laid-off, but in dire need of money to pay the mortgage on his new house, he hesitatingly becomes a private investigator searching for a French woman named Daphne Monet.

The Women of Brewster Place DVD (1982) by Gloria Naylor. Brewster Place chronicles the common bond of seven different black women who share tenement housing on a walled-in street.

Once Upon a time when we were Colored VHS (1989) by Clifton Taulbert E185.97.T38A31989. The author’s personal reflection recounts his childhood in the segregated South of the 1950s, until his move to the Midwest in 1963.

Othello DVD (1603) by William Shakespeare PR2829 .A25 2002. The vengeful Iago use his proximity to the trusting Moor, Othello, to instill jealousy into the noble man, causing him to doubt and destroy his marriage to the fair Desdemona.

The Color Purple DVD (1982) by Alice Walker. Celie, a poor, physically and verbally abused woman, relieves her pain by writing letters to God. For 20 years she suffers until the arrival of Shug Avery who becomes a confidant and comforter and awakens Celie’s courage, allowing her to be independent and free.

The Wedding film (1995) by Dorothy West. The Oval, an exclusive black gathering place on Martha's Vineyard, represents social status, prejudices and loss desires as Shelby Coles finds herself in a tug-of-war between her family’s secrets, Meade, the white man she plans to marry and Lute the artist who want her for himself.

Miracle’s Boys  DVD (2000) by Jacqueline Woodson. Three brothers find that they are raising each other and coping with grief in individual ways after they lose one parent to a tragic accident and the other to a devastating illness.


Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood by Donald Bogle PN1995.9.N4B59 2001

Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films by Donald Bogle PN1995.9.N4B6 2001

We Gotta Have It: Twenty Years of Seeing Black at the Movies, 1986-2006 by Esther Iverem PN1995.9.N4I94 2007

Electronic Databases

To access, visit the “Databases” page on the Pratt Library Website: A Pratt library card number may be required to access databases outside of the library.

Black Studies Center

Black Studies Center is a leading tool that supports research, teaching, and learning in Black Studies and other disciplines that benefit from a more detailed coverage of the black experience such as history, literature, political science, sociology, philosophy, and religion.

Black Thought and Culture

Black Thought and Culture from Alexander Street Press connects students and researchers with works by leading African Americans. More than 100,000 pages of monographs, speeches, essays, articles and interviews, written by leaders within the black community from earliest times to 1975, illustrate the evolution of what it means to "be black".

Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text

Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text is the definitive online tool for film and television research. Subject coverage includes film & television theory, preservation & restoration, writing, production, cinematography, technical aspects, and reviews.


Black Flix: African American Stars, Reviews & Interviews

An African American database of black movie stars, films, original reviews and interviews.

African-American Filmakers, African-American Films

A bibliography of materials on African American filmmakers and films in the UC Berkeley Library.

Contact Us

If you would like to know more about this topic, email us through our Ask-A-Librarian service, call the African American Department at 410-361-9287, or mail your questions to:

African American Department
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201