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Civil rights struggle through the entertainment lens

Monday - 8/26/2013, 2:50pm  ET

Sidney Poitier (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
circa 1980: American actor Sidney Poitier. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
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The Power of Entertainment

WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley reflects on race relations through entertainment history.

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WASHINGTON - We're marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

And one can't underestimate the role of movies, music and television in shaping that journey.

Often, it's the subtle pop culture contributions that have the biggest impact: the rock/rap collaboration on the radio; the movie star "coming to dinner" on the silver screen; the Huxtable family entering our living room on the TV set.

It's been a long march toward justice, so it's time to thank all those who have moved our country forward under the guise of entertainment.

Click the audio to the right for a montage of memories.

Listen once and see how many you remember.

Then compare with this checklist, listed in order of appearance:

  • "The Birth of a Nation" (1915)
  • "Intolerance" (1916)
  • "The Jazz Singer" (1927)
  • "Gone With the Wind" (1939)
  • "Song of the South" (1946)
  • "The Searchers" (1956)
  • "The Defiant Ones" (1958)
  • "Giant" (1956)
  • "West Side Story" (1961)
  • Sam Cooke - "A Change is Gonna Come"
  • "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961)
  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962)
  • Marvin Gaye - "What's Going On?"
  • "In the Heat of the Night" (1967)
  • "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" (1967)
  • "Soul Train" (1971)
  • "Shaft" (1971)
  • "Superfly" (1972)
  • "Foxy Brown" (1974)
  • "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" (1971)
  • "Blazing Saddles" (1974)
  • "All in the Family" (1971-1979)
  • "The Jeffersons" (1975-1985)
  • "Sanford and Son" (1972-1977)
  • "Good Times" (1974-1979)
  • "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (1972-1985)
  • "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978-1986)
  • Aerosmith/Run DMC - "Walk This Way"
  • "Beverly Hills Cop" (1984)
  • "Roots" (1977)
  • "The Color Purple" (1985)
  • "The Cosby Show" (1984-1992)
  • "The Oprah Winfrey Show"
  • Public Enemy - "Fight the Power"
  • "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989)
  • "Glory" (1989)
  • "Mississippi Burning" (1988)
  • "Do the Right Thing" (1989)
  • Michael Jackson - "Black or White"
  • "In Living Color" (1990-1994) - Homey the Clown, Cheap Pete
  • "Boyz n the Hood" (1991)
  • "Forrest Gump" (1994)
  • Theme from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (1990-1996)
  • "Rush Hour" (1998)
  • "Chappelle's Show" (2003-2006)
  • "Remember the Titans" (2000)
  • "Ray" (2004)
  • "Crash" (2004)
  • "The Blind Side" (2008)
  • "The Help" (2011)
  • "Django: Unchained" (2012)
  • "Lincoln" (2012)
  • "42" (2013)
  • "Lee Daniels' The Butler" (2013)
  • Theme from "Crash"

The above rating is based on a 4-star scale. Follow WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley on Twitter @AboveTheJFray, read his blog The Film Spectrum or listen Friday mornings on 103.5 FM.

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