(Meredith) -- A special edition of Entertainment Weekly is celebrating 100 years of Black excellence at the box office. 

From classic films like "A Raisin in the Sun" to newer hits like "Black Panther," the magazine features dozens of movies that made audiences think, feel or cry with laughter, all while capturing the essence of the Black experience. 

Lead editor Keith Murphy said deciding which movies to include in the special issue meant taking a closer look at what defines a Black film. It was not an easy task for Murphy and the team of writers who worked on the project.

"It had to speak to the Black experience and not be centered around the 'white savior' trope, not having the Black characters merely a vehicle for the plot," said Murphy. "We wanted to make sure that all of our films were centered on Black protagonists, antagonists, whatever it was, and they are the heartbeat of these films." 

"You'll see a movie like 'The Color Purple' on this list, and that was directed by Steven Spielberg...who made a great film about the Black experience," Murphy continued. " So, everything from straight-up dramas to comedies like 'Coming to America,' 'Friday,' 'House Party' is in there."

The special issue also honors the rich legacy of Black filmmakers, from Oscar Micheaux, who in 1919 directed the first feature-length movie with an all-Black cast, to newer artists like Ava Duvernay who are defining the future of Black movie-making.

Plus, an exclusive interview with film legend Spike Lee highlights his 41-career in the industry. 

"I was able to interview Spike Lee for this project, and I asked him, 'Do you have a problem with people calling you a Black filmmaker? Do you have a problem with people so-called pigeon-holing you into that?' And he said, 'No. I am a Black filmmaker. I make these films from the Black experience, and I'm proud of that,'" Murphy recalled. 

Entertainment Weekly's special issue "A Celebration of Black Film" is available at local stores now or online at magazine.store. 

You can also take a look inside the issue in the video above. Spoiler alert: It's filled with stunning photos.  

Entertainment Weekly is owned by the parent company of this news station, The Meredith Corporation. 

Copyright 2021 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

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