I think to a lot of white people, any movie with more than 1 black person is a “black movie.” I don’t think that way, but that has been my observation.
I wonder if Denzel has just done so many movies and has become so universally loved that no one thinks of “race” movies… because MANY of his better known roles were definitely about race or portraying figures whose lives were defined by racial struggles.
Malcolm X (something to do with race I think)
I think a LOT of people think EVERY Spike Lee joint is about race, and Denzel did some.
See: Mo Betta Blues, He Got Game
The Hurricane (race and racial discrimination central to story and of course real life character)
See also: The Great Debaters
Devil in Blue Dress (race central to character and plot)
Remember The Titans (school integration, new black leader )
Glory (black soldier)
The Preacher’s Wife (all-black cast, marketed to black audiences)
Also see: Antwon Fisher
American Gangster (Russell Crowe and black gangsters)
Maybe some lesser known/remembered but early career-building roles like:
Mississippi Masala (Black and Indian interracial romance issues, taking place in the US)
Cry Freedom (Steve Biko)
A Soldier’s Story (black soldier)
Including TV series and performances, Denzel Washington has just over 50 credits on IMDB, a HUGE chunk of them were biographies of historical black figures whose race featured prominently in the story, and many of the others were fictional characters in films whose 1 sentence plot synopsis included “a black man” or “African American” and/or were with majority black casts for “black” directors.