18 Films on Racism and Racial Injustice You Should Watch

Most of them are free to stream on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
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ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Jun 2020
woman watching tv with remote in hand
Photo: Getty Images

The events of recent weeks have brought to light a fact that Black Americans have known for decades: sadly, not enough has changed since the civil rights movement. In recent weeks, Americans across the country have been protesting and fighting for change. One crucial part of that change? Education on the experience and history of the racism and racial injustice Black Americans have faced and continue to face.

Below are 18 films that discuss the experiences and history of Black Americans, from the Civil Rights movement to the present day—all available to easily stream on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or HBO.

13th : Directed by Ava Duvernay, this thought-provoking documentary follows scholars, activists and politicians as they analyze the criminalization of Black Americans and the U.S. prison boom.

Watch it on Netflix

What Happened, Miss Simone? : The documentary tells the story of legendary singer and activist Nina Simone and shares never-before heard recordings and rare footage from some of her most famous songs.

Watch it on Netflix

Whose Streets : A documentary that tells the story of the Ferguson uprising following the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown from the people who lived it .

Watch it on Hulu

I Am Not Your Negro : In this documentary, filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House. It’s a journey into black history, connecting the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present Black Lives Matter movement, and questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond along the way.

Watch it on Amazon Prime

Strong Island : This Oscar-nominated documentary follows filmmaker Yance Ford as he investigates the 1992 murder of a young black man: his brother, 24-year-old William Ford Jr.

Watch it on Netflix

Teach Us All : While decades have passed since Brown Vs. Board of Education, American school systems are still for the most part segregated. This documentary takes a look at the activists who are working to change that.

Watch it on Netflix

Self Made: Inspired By the Life of Madame C.J. Walker : The series tells the true story of Madame C.J. Walker, a Black washerwoman who rose from poverty to build a beauty empire and eventually became the first female self-made millionaire.

Watch it on Netflix

King in the Wilderness: The documentary chronicles the final chapters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.

Watch it on HBO Go

The Hate U Give : Based on the novel by Angie Thomas, the movie follows a teen who witnesses the fatal shooting of her friend at the hands of cop and must decide whether or not to testify.

Watch it on Hulu

LA 92 : The documentary gives a look at never-before-seen footage from the 1992 trial of Rodney King, who was brutally beaten by officers in the LAPD, and the ensuing riots that occurred all across the city.

Watch it on Netflix

Just Mercy**: The film, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jaime Foxx,is based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson (founder of the Equal Justice Initiative) and his defence of a man sentenced to death, despite evidence proving his innocence.

Watch it free, for the month of June, by visiting their website.

Moonlight : The Academy Award winning film tells the coming-of-age story of a young man, growing up poor, black and gay in a rough Miami neighborhood.

Watch it on Netflix

When They See Us : Ava Duvernay’s limited series is based on a true story and follows the story of the Central Park Five, five teenage boys from Harlem who were wrongly accused of a brutal attack in Central Park.

Watch it on Netflix

Dear White People : The show follows a group of black students at a mostly white Ivy League college as they navigate daily slights from their peers and slippery politics from a college that isn’t as “post-racial” as it thinks.

Watch it on Netflix

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson : The documentary follows activist Victoria Cruz as she fights violence against trans women and looks into the suspicious 1992 death of her friend Marsha P. Johnson.

Watch it on Netflix

Who Killed Malcolm X? : Decades after his assination, this true-crime documentary looks at the mission of one activist to uncover the truth behind the death of leader Malcolm X.

Watch it on Netflix

Black Stories Present: Your Attention Please : The three-part series, hosted by Craig Robinson, explores nine Black voices that are a part of the next generation of excellence.

Watch it on Hulu

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise : In his four-hour series, American literary critic and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. embarks on a personal journey through the last 50 years of Black American history, from the civil rights movement all the way up to today, asking how far we have really come as a nation toward racial equality.

Watch it on Amazon Prime

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