10. The Color of Friendship (February 5, 2000)
Director: Kevin Hooks
Stars: Lindsey Haun, Shadia Simmons
Lesson Learned: Everyone's equal, asshole.
The Color of Friendship was arguably the first time Disney channel viewers were confronted with a harsh reality that isn't whitewashed by musical numbers, futuristic slang, or animated dancing candlesticks. The movie tells the true story of a developing friendship between two girls in 1977; Piper (Shadia Simmons), a black teen from Washington, DC, and Mahree (Lindsay Haun), a wealthy white teen from apartheid South Africa.
At first, Mahree treats Piper's family with disrespect, as her upbringing made her wary of the idea of interracial relationships. However, as she gets closer to Piper, Mahree realizes everyone's inherent equality, and the two learn the meaning of tolerance. Of course, that's the abridged version, without the gritty details of a murdered member of the South African liberation movement, worldwide protests, and Mahree's consequent kidnapping by her embassy.
The film went on to win every major award it was nominated for that year, including an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program, the NAACP award for Outstanding Youth or Children's Series/Special, and, most importantly, our hearts. —TA