What? You didn’t know that October is Black Movie Month? And you’re asking, exactly what does that mean? Don’t we have Black History Month in February? So, why do we need a month for Black movies?

In case you haven’t noticed, movies by and about Blacks are on the decline in Hollywood. Last year’s Academy Awards show pointed a glaring finger at Hollywood’s movers and shakers because of the absence of films by or about Blacks and other ethnic groups. Hollywood’s response was that there was no Academy-worthy films released by these groups to merit such recognition. Maybe that’s why Best Supporting Actor Nominee Eddie Murphy (“Dream Girls,” 2006) is hosting this year’s Academy Awards show to prove they “like us, they really like us.”

There is a new movement under way to establish October as Black Movie Month. The objective is to increase awareness and bring the significant contributions of Black cinema to the forefront.

Film Life, Inc. and Black Enterprise magazine, along with Uptown magazine, have teamed up to present Black Movie Month.

Black Movie Month is an online campaign to rally global audiences in support of Black Cinema.

Its purpose is to celebrate and heighten awareness of films made by and about persons of African descent, and stimulate sales of Black movies across varied platforms, demonstrating the economic viability and influence of Black audiences. The initiative will be centered on the following six calls to action: Go see a movie, buy DVDs, stay informed about what’s going on in Hollywood, engage in dialogue, make your own movie, or support someone else’s, and speak up, let your voice be heard. Add your name to a petition to Hollywood studios.

You can visit www.blackmoviemonth.com and add your name to the petition by clicking on the “Speak Up” section. While on the site you will learn information about current and upcoming Black movies and movies from our rich past. This is the site that will keep you informed and up to date.

Writer/producer/director and actor Melvin Van Peebles, who took Hollywood by storm with his film 1971 film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” makes a personal plea in a featured video for Blacks to support Black films and filmmakers. And you, too, have an opportunity to add your voice by submitting a video. It is an exciting site, one you’ll visit again and again.

Jeff Friday, CEO of Film Life Inc. and founder of the American Black Film Festival, in a recent interview, stated: “In recent years, there has been a dramatic reduction of Black films produced within the Hollywood system. While a number of Black artists are now household names, overall Black culture has been marginalized and missing in motion pictures.” The goal of the petition is to collect 200,000 names in 31 days so that studios and independent film financiers can take notice of a united voice.

“We hope this effort will lead to an increase in production of films targeted to African American audiences,” Friday added.

Derek Dingle, editor in chief of Black Enterprise magazine says: “It (Black Movie Month) represents the promotion of Black cinema, the celebration of Black entrepreneurship and a call to action for all filmgoers to support diverse cinematic experiences at the box office. It further demonstrates that Black filmmakers, producers, financiers and consumers have the creative prowess and financial wherewithal to bring quality films to the big screen and an array of distribution channels so our voices can be heard and experiences shared.

“Black Enterprise fully supports Jeff Friday and Film Life Inc. in initiating this groundbreaking event that serves as homage to past filmmakers and a vehicle for exposure for today’s filmmakers and generations to come.”

Throughout the month of October consumers can visit www.blackmoviemonth.com to participate in trivia contests, find recommendations on film-related articles and books, chat live and learn about upcoming theatrical, DVD and digital releases.

Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com.