Black History Month is here and we are here for it! Black History Month is both a celebration and a time of learning about influential Black role models who helped shape our nation’s history and who are still contributing to our nation today. While influential figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks are well-known throughout Civil Rights history textbooks, there are so many more amazing Black role models who deserve to have their stories told (and shouted from the rooftops)!
Luckily, streaming services exist, so there is no shortage of awesome Black content to consume this month and in the future. Whether you have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, SlingTV, HBO Max, or all of the above, there’s something for you to watch to be able to reflect, observe, and celebrate. Here are some of our favorite things streaming for Black History Month.
1. Fruitvale Station
Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, this true story focuses on the life of Bay Area resident Oscar Grant and the last day of his life before he was fatally shot by BART police on New Year’s Day in 2009. Fruitvale Station won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and it’s easy to see why. Rich with inspiring performances Fruitvale Station showcases the Oakland-based protests that ultimately led to the shooting officer’s conviction following Grant’s death.
Watch Fruitvale Station on Netflix.
2. Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman is, arguably, one of the greatest actors of our generation. Boseman sadly passed away in 2020 from an untimely death due to colon cancer. But his legacy still lives on through this Marvel superhero flick. Black Panther is a film that celebrates Black superheroes while still paying homage to the tumultuous history that Black people have dealt with over the years.
Black Panther is available to watch on Disney+.
3. 12 Years a Slave
Multi-Academy Award-nominated 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture in 2014, and it’s clear why. The biographical period-drama details the story of an African-American man (who was born a free man) in New York, but who was ultimately kidnapped in Washington, DC and sold into slavery. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen, the film follows a free black man from upstate New York who is kidnapped in DC and sold into slavery.
Here’s the kicker: It’s based on a true story! It’s adapted from Solomon Northup’s 1853 slave memoir of the same name. While gripping, this film reminds us to never forget that painful part of our past.
12 Years a Slave is available to watch on Hulu.
4. Paris is Burning
Made over the course of seven years, this landmark documentary introduced the world to drag ball culture back in 1990. Paris is Burning offers a double whammy of both Black history and LGBTQ+ social and cultural importance. Harlem houses vogue the house down while dealing with homophobia, transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty. If you’ve ever wondered where we got the term throwing shade, look no further than this award-winning film directed by Jennie Livingston.
Paris is Burning is available to stream on Apple TV+.
13th is a 2016 documentary written and directed by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay. The title is in reference to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery throughout the United States. The film’s premise is that slavery has not truly been abolished due to the criminalization of behavior and subsequent convict leasing.
The documentary delves into how the prison industrial complex affects people of color. This is an important film to watch, so we highly recommend it for a greater understanding of our country’s justice system and its flaws.
13th is available to watch on Netflix.
6. Django Unchained
Love Quentin Tarantino? So do we! Django Unchained is a revisionist Western film set in the Antebellum South. Jamie Foxx plays a freed slave who embarks on a cross-country voyage in order to free his wife from a sadistic plantation owner. Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson round out the all-star cast.
Django Unchained is available to watch on Netflix.
7. Poetic Justice
Speaking of all-star casts, Poetic Justice features Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Regina King, and Joe Torry. The 1993 film centers around the main character, Justice, who writes poems that can be heard throughout the film. Fun fact: The poems that we hear were all actually written by poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou!
The movie, which follows a mail carrier and friends on a long overnight delivery run does a great job of combining important messages about race and justice while still being an entertaining watch.
Poetic Justice is available to watch on Hulu.
8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a film based on the eponymous play by August Wilson. Famous for delving into issues of race relations, racial identities, and racial discrimination, the prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright is most known for his Tony Award-winning play, ‘Fences’. This 2021 Golden Globe Nominated film stars Oscar-winner Viola Davis as Ma Rainey, a highly-regarded blues singer in the 1920s. This film marks Chadwick Boseman’s final performance; it’s a must-watch for that reason alone!
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is available to watch on Netflix.
One of Spike Lee’s finest works, BlacKkKlansman creatively explores themes of race, justice, and culture through comedy. Based on actual events, the film revolves around the first Black detective in the Colorado Springs police department who infiltrates the KKK. Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, and Laura Harrier, the Academy Award-winning film also took home the Grand Prix Award at Cannes.
BlacKkKlansman is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
As everyone knows, Denzel Washington stars in this wildly realistic biographical drama by Spike Lee, who is one of the most famous directors in Hollywood. As riveting as it is educational, the film dives into the life of Malcolm X and the historical Black Power movement.
Malcolm X is available to watch on HBO Max.
Luckily, we have so many options and different ways to celebrate Black History Month. All of these movies and TV shows can be found at our fingertips with the click of a button. So, what are you waiting for? Pop up that popcorn, grab a comfy blanket, and settle in on the couch…