Over the course of over 30 years, Spike Lee has established himself as an outspoken auteur with a distinct style and a voice for Black America. Perhaps one of cinema’s most controversial figures, Lee has consistently addressed the issue of the African American struggle through film. One of the more overlooked aspects of his filmmaking may be the attention Lee pays to his opening credit sequences and just how important they are in establishing his narrative, setting the tone, and giving context to a message he has delivered numerous times in his career–that African Americans have for centuries been subject to injustice.  This visual essay from Joe Van Ryn and Dylan Johnson examines Lee’s title sequences for School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and Malcolm X.

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Joe Van Ryn

Senior at Winona State majoring in Creative Digital Media and minoring in Film Studies.