Viola Davis stars in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Film allows storytellers to elevate a narrative through an unparalleled immersive experience. Whether learning more about great historical figures or diving into the lives of cultural legends, our favorite streaming platforms offer a number of films that highlight essential Black history stories. Below we've rounded up the best titles you can find on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock and Paramount Plus.
This dramatic historical film centers around star boxer Muhammed Ali and all of the successes and failures he endured throughout his life between 1964 and 1974. His personal life, boxing career and political challenges he faced all come together to tell a tale of a man who changed history forever.
Ma Rainey, revolutionary blues singer, is aware that she is a star. However, when she and her band get together at a recording studio in Chicago, ages of oppression, ill-mannered intentions and a wide generation gap impede Ma’s ability to be her defiant self.
This film takes a deep dive into Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life. From growing up in a low social class to being the first president of South Africa, Mandela’s sensational journey is one you don’t want to miss out on.
An unexpected bond is formed when Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a Ku Klux Klan leader, come together. After co-organizing a community meeting regarding the desegregation of schools in Durham, North Carolina in the summer of 1971, they undergo an experience that affects them in ways they never thought possible.
Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown all have a significant part to play in the Civil Rights Movement and the troubled appearance of the 1960s. On one remarkable night, the four successful men convene to review the importance of their roles in society.
This eye-opening documentary that takes a look into the history of racism in the United States will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the courageous people who changed our country forever. Through the words of James Baldwin and memories of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., this film completes the story that Baldwin was never able to finish.
When Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X are assassinated, their wives Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz create a beautiful friendship. These two iconic women help keep the Civil Rights Movement alive and become role models for countless women everywhere.
In this 2021 biographical crime drama, William O’Neal is presented with an offer from the FBI to infiltrate the Illinois division of the Black Panther Party. O’neal keeps an eye on the young chairman, Fred Hampton, but finds himself caught up in the distress of his infinite lies.
Denzel Washington takes on the role of the controversial black nationlist leader and activist, Malcom X. In this biographical tale, we get the chance to observe this prominent figure from his early stages of life to being the leader of the Nation of Islam and a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement.
This film centers around major league baseball’s racial segregation in the year of 1946. Branch Rickey challenges this barrier when he signs the celebrated Jackie Robinson to his team. Robinson represents the challenges he and many others of their time had to face as he battles through pressure and hate from the public, the press and his own teammates.
The mostly African-American community that lay in the peaceful town of Rosewood, Fla. never anticipated the events that occurred on New Year’s Day 1923. Based on a true story, a lynch mob from a nearby white community attacks Rosewood and courageous individauals help them to escape.
One of the most impressive operations in history— when astronaut John Glenn launched into orbit— is celebrated in this historical drama. Most importantly, three brilliant African-American women were the intellects behind the entire mission.
In this true story, Michael B. Jordan portrays young lawyer Bryan Stevenson. Bryan doesn’t want to be just another ordinary lawyer, so he runs off to Alabama to defend wrongly condemned individuals. When Walter McMillian is convicted for murdering an 18-year-old girl and sentenced to death without proper evidence, Bryan is the kind-hearted, outstanding lawyer there to change his life.
This inspirational story of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery to become an extraodinary hereo is one for the books. Leading hundred of slaves through the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman’s courage and perservance is one to commend.
The story of Oscar Grant III is one that will have you thinking about the rest of your day. Based on a true story, the film reflects on Oscar’s last day of life where he does everything he can to be a better man until he is fatally shot by a police officer on the morning of New Year’s Day 2009. Opening with real footage from actual events, this film will unquestionably leave you with a new outlook on life.
In addition, Paramount Plus organized an entire selection of Black History Month programming that you can stream right now. They have a wide range of documentaries as part of the Black Voices Collection ranging from dramas to comedies to family friendly movies. A few titles included are Dream Team: Birth of the Modern Athlete, St. Louis Superman and The Obama Years: The Power of Words.
Photography by: David Lee/ Netflix