Many films and conversations provide perspectives into Black history and culture. The stories told offer insight into the experiences many Black communities have faced and continue to face today. Here is a list of movies, documentaries, and podcasts that we recommend. So grab some popcorn and maybe a notepad to write down topics you may want to further explore!
12 Years a Slave (2013, R)
Director: Steve McQueen
12 Years a Slave is based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free Black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist forever alters his life.¹
Moonlight (2016, R)
Director: Barry Jenkins
Moonlight chronicles the life of a young Black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. At once a vital portrait of contemporary African-American life and intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, Moonlight is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths.²
One Night in Miami (2021, R)
Director: Regina King
One Night in Miami is a fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gather to discuss their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.³
Soul (2020, PG)
Director: Pete Docter
Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher, gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. Unfortunately, one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks, and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22, who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.⁴
13th (2016, TV-MA)
Director: Ava DuVernay
In this thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists, and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.⁵
The Most Beautiful Thing (2020, 16+)
Director: Mary Mazzio
The film chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago), all coming together to row in the same boat. An amazing story, based on the memoir of team captain, Arshay Cooper.⁶
I Am Not Your Negro (2016, PG-13)
Director: Raoul Peck
In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished – a radical narration about race in America, using the writer’s original words. He draws upon James Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to the current racial narrative in America.⁷
Black history and literature from a Noire perspective. Noire Histoir features Black history facts, literature, and motivational stories from across the Black diaspora. Join Natasha McEachron as she celebrates Black pride, excellence, and power all 366 days of the year.
The Nod tells the stories of Black life that don't get told anywhere else. The show ranges from an explanation of purple drink’s association with Black culture to the story of an interracial drag troupe that traveled the nation in the 1940s. It celebrates the genius, the innovation, and the resilience that is so particular to being Black — in America, and around the world.
Black History Buff
Heard in over 100 countries, the Black History Buff podcast is a fun and thrilling journey through time. Covering the full historical tapestry of the African Diaspora, you’ll hear tales covering everything from African Samurai to pistol-wielding poets.
³Amazon Prime Video