Black Hollywood Remembers Iconic Director And Filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles Who Passed Away at 89

·3 min read
Melvin Van Peebles
Melvin Van Peebles

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

Writer, filmmaker and director Melvin Van Peebles became an ancestor at 89-years-old, Variety reported. He was a national treasure. Van Peebles was integral to bringing the grit and grime of Black life to the big screen. While many have dubbed his work and genre Blaxploitation, it is incorrectly defined. Peebles didn’t merely place Black life at the center of his storytelling as a means to air out our dirty laundry or make us spectacles for the white gaze.

He handled Black narratives with care and showed us to ourselves in ways that Hollywood refused. Seminal films like Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Watermelon Man were odes to unapologetic Blackness and should be categorized as such. Black Hollywood is the house that Peebles built. He owned a brilliance that won’t be easily forgotten nor matched.

Here’s how directors, filmmakers, creatives and fans alike are paying homage to the “Godfather of Black Cinema,” and sharing the impact he’s had on their lives: