The year was 1991. The setting was South Central Los Angeles. The movie was a coming of age story called Boyz n the Hood. It was the first feature film for an amazing group of actors: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Regina King, Morris Chestnut, Ice Cube and Nia Long. It was also the first film directed by a young 24-year old man named John Singleton. The theme of the movie was summed up by Ice Cube’s character Dough Boy when he said:
Either they don’t know, don’t show or they don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.
On this date 20 years ago Boyz n the Hood was recognized when John Singleton became the first African-American director nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director and Best Screenplay. He may not have won the awards, but he cemented his name in Black History.
I’d like to say over the past two decades more people are caring about what goes on in the hood. I think about individuals like Mayor Cory Booker who has worked tirelessly to make Newark, New Jersey, aka Brick City, a safer community and bolster urban renewal. Inroads have been made, but the work continues. We cannot let the cries of the Dough Boys out there fall on deaf ears.