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Pop Culture

Mr. Washington goes to the movies

Denzel Washington’s storied life includes historic honors, much-praised performances, and dedication to his family and faith.

48 PHOTOS

'Flight'

This film image released by Paramount Pictures shows Denzel Washington portraying Whip Whitaker in a scene from "Flight." Washington plays an airline pilot who, despite being hung-over, drunk and coked-up, manages to bring down a rapidly deteriorating plane in a daring emergency landing on what should have been a routine flight between Orlando, Fla., and Atlanta. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Robert Zuckerman)
Robert Zuckerman | Paramount Pictures
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Late-night chat

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) -- Episode 4337 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Denzel Washington talks with host Jay Leno during a commercial break on October 23, 2012
Stacie Mcchesney | NBCUniversal
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Hooping it up

Denzel Washington attends the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklamhoma City Thunder Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Noel Vasquez | Getty Images North America
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'Safe' and sound

Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington attend the "Safe House" premiere at the SVA Theater on February 7, 2012 in New York City.
Donna Ward | Getty Images North America
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Worldwide honor

US actor Denzel Washington holds his trophy for Category "Best International Actor" during the 47th Golden Camera award ceremony in Berlin Saturday Feb 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Maurizio Gambarini, pool)
Maurizio Gambarini | dpa POOL
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Is it 'Safe'?

Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) and Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) stars in thriller movie from Universal Pictures' Safe House. A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.
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Pomp and circumstance

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 16: Denzel Washington speaks during the 2011 University Of Pennsylvania Commencement on May 16, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Gilbert Carrasquillo | Getty Images North America
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Nobel honors

US actress Anne Hathaway and US actor Denzel Washington host the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, on December 11, 2010. Artists from all over the world gathered at the Oslo Spektrum to help spread the message of peace and celebrate this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo. AFP PHOTO/ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Odd Andersen | AFP
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'Unstoppable'

Movie still from 'Unstoppable' (2010) Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, TJ Miller, Rosario Dawson and Kevin Dunn. A veteran engineer and a young conductor try frantically to stop a half-mile-long freight train carrying enough combustible liquids and poisonous gas to wipe out a nearby city.
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Encouraging education

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 15: Actor Denzel Washington appears at a Boys and Girls Clubs of America news conference on increasing high school graduation rates on September 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. The BGCA announced a plan to refocus its program strategy toward ensuring its members graduate from high school on time. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Denzel Washington
Brendan Hoffman | Getty Images North America
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Two for Tony

NEW YORK - JUNE 13: Actors Viola Davis and Denzel Washington pose with their awards at the 64th Annual Tony Awards at The Sports Club/LA on June 13, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Viola Davis;Denzel Washington
Bryan Bedder | Getty Images North America
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Curtain call

NEW YORK - APRIL 26: (L-R) Actors Chris Chalk, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson (backrow), Stephen McKinley Henderson (backrow) SaCha Stewart-Coleman, Denzel Washington and Russell Hornsby onstage during the curtain call for the Broadway Opening of "Fences" at the Cort Theatre on April 26, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Viola Davis;Denzel Washington;Stephen McKinley Henderson;SaCha Stewart-Coleman;Mykelti Williamson;Chris Chalk;Russell Hornsby
Jemal Countess | Getty Images North America
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Booking it

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 11: Pauletta Washington and actor Denzel Washington arrive at the premiere of Warner Bros. 'The Book Of Eli' held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on January 11, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Pauletta Washinton;Denzel Washington
Alberto E. Rodriguez | Getty Images North America
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Future prophet?

The Book of Eli (2010) In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. Empty cities, broken highways, seared earth--all around him, the marks of catastrophic destruction. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water... or for nothing at all.
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Underground adventure

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) New York City subway dispatcher Walter Garber's ordinary day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. Ryder, a criminal mastermind, leads a highly-armed gang of four, threatening to execute the train's passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages. But there's one riddle Garber can't solve: even if the thieves get the money, how can they possibly escape?
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Meeting the president

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20: US President Barack Obama shakes hands with actor Denzel Washington during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. President Obama is hosting ten Inaugural Balls this evening. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States today, becoming the first African-American to be elected President. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Barack Obama;Denzel Washington
Max Whittaker | Getty Images North America
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Family affair

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MAY 31: Actor Denzel Washington (L) and his daughter Katia Washington present the Best Movie award onstage during the 18th Annual MTV Movie Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre on May 31, 2009 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Denzel Washington
Kevin Winter | Getty Images North America
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No debate, he's great

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Actor Denzel Washington accepts the Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture award for "The Great Debaters" onstage during the 39th NAACP Image Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on February 14, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images)
Jesse Grant | Getty Images North America
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How he got here

Actor Denzel Washington, center, greets a group of children from the Boys & Girls Club of America, in front of a billboard of himself as a child in Washington on Wednesday Sept. 17, 2008. The billboard is for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America national youth advocacy campaign, "Be Great," that urges people to volunteer and raise awareness about troubling trends involving young people, such as high dropout rates. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin | AP
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A teacher who touches lives

The Great Debaters (2007) Inspired by a true story, "The Great Debaters" chronicles the journey of Professor Melvin Tolson, a brilliant but volatile debate team coach who uses the power of words to shape a group of underdog students from a small African American college in the deep south into a historically elite debate team. A controversial figure, Professor Tolson challenged the social mores of the time and was under constant fire for his unconventional and ferocious teaching methods as well as his radical political views.
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An American life

American Gangster (2007)Based on the life of drug-kingpin-turned-informant, Frank Lucas, who grew up in segregated North Carolina where he watched as his cousin was shot by the Klan for looking at a white girl. He eventually made his way to Harlem where he became a heroin kingpin by traveling to Asia's Golden Triangle to make connections, shipping heroin back to the US in the coffins of soldiers killed in Vietnam. He soon made upwards of one million dollars a day in drug sales. Lucas was shadowed by lawman, Richie Roberts, who finally helped bring the kingpin to justice. The two then worked together to expose the crooked cops and foreign nationals who made importing heroin so easy.
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Didn't this just happen?

Deja Vu (2006) Everyone has experienced the unsettling mystery of déjà vu--that flash of memory when you meet someone new you feel you've known all your life or recognize a place even though you've never been there before. But what if the feelings were actually warnings sent from the past or clues to the future? It is déjà vu that unexpectedly guides ATF agent Doug Carlin through an investigation into a shattering crime. Called in to recover evidence after a bomb sets off a cataclysmic explosion on a New Orleans Ferry, Carlin is about to discover that what most people believe "is only in their heads" is actually something far more powerful--and will lead him on a mind-bending race to save hundreds of innocent people.
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Going 'Inside'

Inside Man (2006) Four people dressed in painters' outfits march into the busy lobby of Manhattan Trust, a cornerstone Wall Street Branch of a worldwide financial institution. Within seconds, the costumed robbers place the bank under a surgically planned siege, and the 50 patrons and staff become unwitting pawns in an airtight heist. NYPD hostage negotiators Detectives Keith Frazier and Bill Mitchell are dispatched to the scene with orders to establish contact with the heist's ringleader, Dalton Russell, and ensure safe release of the hostages. Working alongside Emergency Services Unit (ESU) Captain John Darius, all are hopeful that the situation can be peacefully diffused and that control of the bank and release of those inside can be secured in short order. But Russell proves an unexpectedly canny opponent--clever, calm and totally in command--a puppet master with a meticulous plan to disorient and confuse not only the hostages, but also the authorities. Outside, the crowd of New Yorkers grows as the situation becomes increasingly intense tense, with Frazier's superiors becoming more concerned about his ability to keep the standoff from spiraling out of control. The robbers appear to consistently be one step ahead of the police, outwitting Frazier and Mitchell at every turn. Frazier's suspicions that more is at work than anyone perceives are justified with the entry of Madeline White, a power player with shadowy objectives, who requests a private meeting with Russell. The chairman of the bank's board of directors, controlling entrepreneur Arthur Case, is also uniquely interested in the moment-to-moment happenings inside the branch. But just what are the robbers after? Why has nothing worked to alleviate the standoff, which stretches on hour after hour? Frazier is convinced that invisible strings are being pulled and secret negotiations are taking place as the powder keg situation grows more unstable by the moment.
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Watching some hoops

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 16: Director Spike Lee (L) and actor Denzel Washington attend the NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks November 16, 2005 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld | Getty Images North America
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Time out for Shakespeare

NEW YORK - APRIL 3: (U.S. TABLOIDS AND HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) (L-R) Actors Jessica Hecht and Denzel Washington take a bow at the opening night of the play "Julius Caesar" on April 3, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
Peter Kramer | Getty Images North America
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Chilling remake

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) U.S. Army Major Bennett Marco canâ??t sleep at night--and hedoesnâ??t want to. Marco spends his days giving inspiring speeches about his platoonâ??s ambush in the Kuwaiti desert and the heroics of Sergeant Raymond Shaw, who won the Medal of Honor for saving Marcoâ??s crew. But at night, Marcoâ??s dreamlike memories of the desert turn sinister and terrifying. And Marco privately wonders whether the two soldiers who died in the firefight might have met darker fates than officially recorded--andwhether Shaw might not be the glorious hero that everyone thinks he is. When Shaw takes the national stage as a surefire candidate for vice president--under the thumb of his controversial mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw-â??Marco is forced to act on his growing suspicions. With military officials questioning his sanity, and the net of security tightening around Shaw, Marco races to probe deeper into the unimaginable,shocking truth before the White House is won.
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My protector

Man on Fire (2004) A wave of kidnappings has swept through Mexico, feeding a growing sense of panic among its wealthier citizens, especially parents. In one six-day period, there were twenty-four abductions, leading many to hire bodyguards for their children. Into this world enters John Creasy, a burned-out ex-CIA operative/assassin, who has given up on life. Creasy's friend Rayburn brings him to Mexico City to be a bodyguard to nine-year-old Pita Ramos, daughter of industrialist Samuel Ramos and his wife Lisa. Creasy is not interested in being a bodyguard, especially to a youngster, but for lack of something better to do, he accepts the assignment. Creasy barely tolerates the precocious child and her pestering questions about him and his life. But slowly, she chips away at his seemingly impenetrable exterior, his defenses drop, and he opens up to her. Creasy's new-found purpose in life is shattered when Pita is kidnapped. Despite being mortally wounded during the kidnapping, he vows to kill anyone involved in or profiting from the kidnapping. And no one can stop him.
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Loving couple

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 23: Actor Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta attend the 75th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on March 23, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter | Getty Images North America
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'Time' is on his side

Out of Time (2003) Suppose everything you knew--everything you trusted --became a lie. For Matt Lee Whitlock, that nightmare has become a reality.Matt is the chief of police in small Banyan Key, Florida. A hardworking man whoâ??s good at his job, heâ??s respected by his peers and beloved by his community. But when Banyan Key is shocked by a brutal double homicide, Matt starts his investigation--and his life starts to unravel. As details of the case begin to surface, all of the evidence points to Matt as the prime suspect. Now with the investigation in full swing and several people working the case, Matt finds himself in a race against time to solve the murders before others uncover the clues heâ??s finding and he himself falls under suspicion. He has to stay a few steps ahead of his own police force and everyone heâ??s trusted in order to clear his name and uncover the horrifying truth. It becomes all too apparent that the truth is on Mattâ??s side--time, however, is not.
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A golden night

Halle Berry and Denzel Washington backstage at the 74th Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca., March 24, 2002. (photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
Frank Micelotta | Getty Images North America
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Saving his son

John Q. (2002) John Q. Archibald is an ordinary man who works at a factory and takes care of his family. His wife Denise and young son Michael are his world. But when Michael falls seriously ill and needs an emergency heart transplant operation that John Q. can't afford and his health insurance won't cover, he vows to do whatever it will take to keep his son alive. With time and options running out, a desperate gamble becomes his only hope--he takes the emergency room hostage. As John Q. barricades himself inside the hospital along with his unwitting group of emergency room hostages, many of them in need of medical care themselves, he faces off with a veteran police hostage negotiator and a quick-tempered police chief who both want to bring a swift end to the stand-off.
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In the director's chair

Antwone Fisher (2002) Based on a true story, a biographical drama centering upon Antwone "Fish" Fisher who--once a Sony Pictures security guard--eventually gained fame as an acclaimed writer and a Hollywood producer. In the earlier part of his life, he was a sailor prone to violent outbursts. On the verge of being kicked out of the Navy for repeated fighting, he is sent to a naval psychiatrist for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood rife with abuse. With the help of a Navy psychiatrist, he turns his life around and decides to embark on a search to find the family that abandoned him as a baby. Through the guidance of his doctor, he confronts his painful past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew. In the course of that search, his life changes dramatically.
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A history-making performance

Training Day (2001) Everyday there is a war being waged on America's inner city streets--a war between residents, drug dealers and the people sworn to protect one from the other. This war has its casualties, none greater than L.A.P.D. Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris, a 13-year veteran narcotics officer whose questionable methodology blurs the line between legality and corruption. His optimism has long since been chipped away by his tour of duty in the streets, where fighting crime by the book can get you killed and getting the job done often requires Alonzo and his colleagues to break the laws they are empowered to enforce. This crime tale shadows Alonzo as he tests the resolve of wide-eyed, idealistic rookie Jake Hoyt, who has one day and one day only to prove himself to his fiercely charismatic superior. Over the next 24-hours, Jake will be pulled deeper and deeper into the ethical mire of Alonzo's logic as both men put their lives and careers on the line to serve their conflicting notions of justice.
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Winning battles, on and off the gridiron

Remember the Titans (2000) Based on the true story of the explosive events that took place in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971 when African-American football coach Herman Boone was hired to guide an integrated but racially polarized high school team--the T.C. Williams Titans. Angry, stubborn and a rigid taskmaster, Boone faces a cool reception from the team's players as well as an awkward relationship with assistant coach Bill Yoast, a local white man with seniority and a tradition of winning who was bypassed for the job. It's made clear that Bill has feelings of animosity for having to be an assistant under a black man. As the two men learn to overcome their ignorance and bigotry and realize that they have much in common--integrity, honor, and a strong work ethic--they work together to transfom a group of angry, unfocused players into a dynamic winning team of responsible young men. In the process, they also unite a divided community and ensure that Virginia will always "Remember the Titans."
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A 'Hurricane' blows through

The Hurricane (1999) Story about 1960s world middleweight boxing champion Rubin "Hurricane" Carter--a man whose dreams of winning the middleweight boxing title were destroyed when he was arrested along with another man for the murders of three white men in a New Jersey bar. Wrongfully accused, Carter and John Artis were convicted and sentenced to three life terms in prison, where Carter decided to channel his frustration and despair by writing his own story from his cell. Although his autobigraphy, "The Sixteenth Round," did get published, Carter remained behind bars, finding inner peace by withdrawing from the outer world and the national interest which surrounded his case (including impassioned pleas from Bob Dylan and Muhammed Ali and others). Years later, an alienated American youth living in Canada, Vicellous Shannon, found direction and purpose for the first time in his life after reading Carter's book, and began corresponding with him... this eventually lead to a full-time campaign to get Carter released.
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Driving to score

He Got Game (1998) A man convicted of murdering his wife is offered a chance to have his sentence lessened if he can persuade his heavily-recruited basketball star son to sign with a local college.
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Another remake

The Preacher s Wife (1996) The Reverend Henry Biggs is a good man who's doubtful about his ability to make a difference in his troubled community and home. Help is on the way in the form of an angel named Dudley who soon becomes the source of and solution to their problems.
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Going to war

Courage Under Fire (1996) While serving in the Persian Gulf at Al Bathra, Lt. Colonel Nathanial Serling gives the order to fire at what he believes is an enemy T-54 tank and is horrified to learn that he's destroyed one of his own tanks, killing several of Serling's own men. As the military conducts a hushed investigation into this incident of "friendly fire" Serling is reassigned to a job in Awards and Decorations at the Pentagon and ordered to review Capt. Karen Walden's candidacy for a Medal of Honor, to be awarded to the Medevac pilot for her "courage under fire." The honor, unhappily, is to be posthumous. Expected to expedite the inquiry and rubber-stamp the approval for the Medal, Serling instead finds himself unavoidably drawn into her crew's conflicting stories regarding Walden's actions during a rescue mission. Serling begins to suspect a much more complicated tale, perhaps even a cover-up. In a desperate race against time, he must not only find the truth, but somehow manage to preserve his honor.
Getty Images North America
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A period picture

Devil in A Blue Dress (1995) It's 1948 and Los Angeles is booming, but Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins has seen better days. A decorated World War II veteran, he's just been fired and he's got house payments to make, so when he's offered a job locating the mysterious Daphne Monet, he doesn't waste much time saying yes. Now, he finds himself drawn into a web of murder, blackmail, brutal cops and city politics.
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Legal eagles

The Pelican Brief (1993) A young female law student endangers her own life while solving one of the most significant crimes in history.
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Bringing AIDS to the screen

Philadelphia (1993) Andrew Beckett is a young up-and-coming lawyer who has just been fired by his prestigious law firm. His former colleagues claim he's just not good enough; Andrew says he's been fired because he has AIDS. Determined to defend his professional reputation; Andrew hires fierce personal-injury attorney Joe Miller to represent him as he sues his former firm for wrongful termination. Separated from Andrew by a deep social and cultural chasm, Joe is initially reluctant to take the case. For Andrew the battle is clear cut--he's fighting for his reputation, his life and for justice. Joe, however, faces a different kind of struggle as he confronts his own fears and prejudices about homosexuals.
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A historic leader

Malcolm X (1992) Biographical drama on the life of the late Malcolm X, who was assassinated on February 21, 1965.
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Daddy's boy

Denzel Washington at the The Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California First son John David is born in 1984. John David goes on to become a college football star at the traditionally African-American college Morehouse in Atlanta and is signed as a running back by the St. Louis Rams in May 2006.
Ron Galella | WireImage
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An early honor

Denzel Washington holds up the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that he won for his role in "Glory" on March 26, 1990 in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Lee Celano BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE
Lee Celano | X00051
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Glory, glory hallelujah

Glory (1989) Historical war drama about the Civil War battle at Antietam, and the formation of the first black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry.
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Let 'Freedom' ring

Cry Freedom (1987) The true story of murdered, black, South African, "Black Consciousness Movement" activist Stephen Biko, and his friendship with the white, South African newspaper editor Donald Woods.
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Army days

A Soldier s Story (1984) A black army attorney is sent to an all-black army camp during World War II to investigate the murder of a sergeant and sees first hand the racial strife between the black soldiers and the white officers who run the boot camp.
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Doctor, doctor

ST. ELSEWHERE -- Season 4 -- Pictured: (back row l-r) Ed Begley Jr. as Dr. Victor Ehrlich, David Morse as Dr. Jack 'Boomer' Morrison, Howie Mandel as Dr. Wayne Fiscus, Mark Harmon as Dr. Robert 'Bobby' Caldwell (front row) Denzel Washington as Dr. Phillip Chandler, Stephen Furst as Dr. Elliot Axelrod, Sagan Lewis as Dr. Jacqueline Wade -- Photo by: Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank .
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