Author: E. Museaux

Spoiler rating: ! (no spoilers)

In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to review a movie that centered the Black matriarch, and no other movie covers the joys and pains of being the woman who keeps a family running better than Mama Flora’s Family, based on the best-selling novel by Alex Haley and David Stevens.
In this epic miniseries, which chronicles several decades, we follow along as Flora (Erika Alexander), the daughter of Mississippi sharecroppers endures an unplanned pregnancy from a man who manipulated and exploited her (Shamar Moore), the agony of forced separation from her offspring, and starting a new life in the small town of Stockton. In Stockton, Flora finds love with Booker Palmer (Preston Wigasi Brant), and once she experiences still more heartache, becomes the sole provider for their son, Willie and her niece, Ruthana.
As we follow the trials and tribulations of Flora (Cicely Tyson), her children (Mario van Peebles, Blair Underwood, Angelina Spicer), and grandchildren, we see this resilient Black woman partake in the greatest act of resistance: surviving. Surviving in a world that was (and still is) anti-Black, anti-woman, and anti-poor is a badge of honour and achievement, and Flora manages this with grace and dignity. Despite brutal racism and living in the Jim Crow South, sexism, colourism, and often near-crippling poverty, Flora keeps her family alive, and ultimately, together. Featuring an all-star cast which also includes Hill Harper, Queen Latifah, Della Reese, and Terrence Howard, this film eloquently portrays the myriad Black experiences which can exist within the same family, and how the supportive, guiding hand of a loving mother can be a much-needed life-preserver in dangerous waters.

I give this one 4.25 stars


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