Yoruba Richen’s sobering and enchanting film uncovers the radicalism of six timeless American entertainers.

In 2002, when Halle Berry won the Oscar for her performance in “Monster’s Ball,” becoming the first African American to take home the Academy Award for best actress, after 30 seconds of convulsive tears she said, “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll…And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance, because this door tonight has been opened.” To achieve something by standing on the shoulders of others is a profound feeling. And what Halle Berry’s speech hit home is that where those earlier performers had allowed her to become a giant, they were giants too — more than contemporary audiences often know.