Black history is beautiful, complex, and, at times, uncomfortable. While so much of our history was stripped from us, the details we know can often be difficult to digest. But all is not strife and struggle.
With Black History Month upon us, there’s no better way to celebrate the often neglected achievements of people of African descent in our country, than to revisit some of our diverse narratives that have played out on screen. These tales allow us to celebrate the legacies of iconic trailblazers whose courage and determination have paved the way for future generations. And there’s plenty to choose from on streaming platforms like Philo, Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max, and Hulu. Here are 14 we suggest you watch this month.
Queen of Katwe
Queen of Katwe on Amazon Prime follows the rise of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi as a chess player growing up in grinding poverty in the Kampala slum of Katwe, with her single mother barely able to support her and her two siblings.
The critically acclaimed Jackie Robinson biopic stars Chadwick Boseman as the legendary baseball player who broke the color barrier. It’s available for streaming on Philo.
Netflix’s musical biopic Roxanne Roxanne, tells rapper Roxanne Shante’s story — from her childhood in the projects, to her first rap battle with guys twice her age, to cementing her first underground hit.
Inspired by a true life story, Antwone Fisher tells the dramatic story of a troubled sailor (Luke) who embarks on a remarkable journey to confront his painful past–and connect with the family he never knew. Watch it on Philo.
Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall sees Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman play a real-life superhero, NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall. Watch it on Philo.
Miss Virginia is inspired by the story of Virginia Walden Ford, a struggling single mother from a low-income neighborhood in Washington, DC. Affectionately called “Miss Virginia” and “the Education Lady” by neighborhood children, Virginia fought to create a scholarship program for her at-risk son and children like him. See how she did it on Philo.
The film tells the story of Bishop Carlton Pearson, a beloved evangelical minister who, in the late 1990s, radically changed the message he preached to his flock.
The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel
The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel tells the complete history of Detroit’s gospel music legends. The biopic originally aired on Lifetime and is now available for streaming on Philo.
Judas and the Black Messiah
In the film which will be released on HBO Max February 12, FBI informant William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton.
12 Years A Slave
12 Years a Slave is based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. The story follows Solomon Northup, a citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and rescued in 1853. Catch his story on Hulu.
LeVar Burton stars as an enslaved Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries Roots which tells the story of his descendants in America. Watch it on HBO Max.
The Book Of Negroes
Based on the award-winning novel by Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes tells the story of Aminata Diallo after her capture and the pain she endured as part of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Watch it on Philo.
Southside With You
Inspired by Barack and Michelle Obama’s love story, Southside With You recounts the eventful summer day in 1989 when a future U.S. President Barack Obama and lawyer Michelle Robinson go on a fateful first date. Watch it on Hulu.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Oprah stars as the daughter of Henrietta Lacks in this film which follows her journey to learning the truth about how her mother’s cells were harvested without permission to develop medical treatments. Stream it on HBO Max.