As we approach the nationwide observance of Juneteenth, a day that symbolizes freedom from slavery for the Black community, you may be looking for some documentaries, TV shows or limited series to educate you on the day now recognized as a national holiday.
If you’re looking for something based on a true story, Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed When They See Us on Netflix may be up your alley. Maybe you’re seeking a short documentary that gives you digestible information about the history of Juneteenth. If so, ABC’s A Celebration of Overcoming may be right for you. In any event, we have a list of content for you to commemorate the holiday recognized across the nation on June 19th.
Below, check out a list of documentaries, films and television specials across all of these streaming platforms to tune into just in time for Juneteenth!
Boiling Point, The Smithsonian Channel
The Smithsonian Channel will air episodes of the CBS News produced series Boiling Point, a six-part, immersive documentary series that reexamines America’s troubled history of systemic racism and police brutality over the decades. The programming will run Saturday, June 19 from 1 p.m. – 11 p.m. ET/PT, including a series of powerful original video essays to commemorate Juneteenth.
It’s A Wonderful Plight – All Streaming Platforms
Noted as one of the top summer 2021 films to watch by USA Today, music producer, creator and raptivist Justin L. Rhodes brings us It’s A Wonderful Plight. The film unapologetically addresses gentrification, systemic racism, excessive police force, Tulsa Black Wall Street and more through the lenses of hip-hop and cultural consciousness. It’s a Wonderful Plight will be released worldwide on June 15.
Juneteenth: Together We Triumph – A ‘Soul of a Nation’ Special Event, Hulu
On Friday, June 18 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC, “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan will sit down for an exclusive interview with our forever president Barack Obama about race, resilience and Obama’s book A Promised Land. The two-hour special will include storytelling from One Night In Miami… actor Leslie Odom, Jr. and performances by performances by Jimmie Allen, Chloe Bailey and Leon Bridges.
Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming, Hulu
Originally aired on ABC News in 2020, this 42-minute documentary examines the ongoing struggle for racial equality for Black America while celebrating the ending of slavery.
Adapted from the young adult novel written by Walter Dean Myers, the film follows 17-year-old honor student Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrrison, Jr.) who gets charged with felony murder and faces a gruesome legal battle that may result in life behind bars. Other cast members include A$AP Rocky, Jennifer Hudson, John David Washington and Jharrel Jerome.
Just Mercy, Amazon Prime
Starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, the film follows the work and trials of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson in 1980s Alabama as he fights for the innocence of an inmate on death row.
Starring Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo, Ava DuVernay’s Academy Award-nominated film will air during Juneteenth weekend as the “CBS Sunday Night Movie” on June 20 at 8:00 p.m., ET/PT on the CBS Television Network. The film was awarded an Oscar for Best Original Song for John Legend and Common’s Glory.
Directed and produced by filmmaker and ARRAY’s own Ava DuVernay, this documentary features commentary from thought-leaders, scholars, and activists about this history of racial inequality in America, the criminalization of the Black community and the U.S. prison system’s institutional racism.
Fight the Power: The Movements That Changed America, History Channel
Produced by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The History Channel’s upcoming documentary premieres on Juneteenth at 8 p.m. EST. The film debut will include sit-down interviews with noteworthy historians and authors, archival imager, and anecdotes from Abdul-Jabbar’s personal experiences.
I Am Not Your Negro, Netflix/YouTube Movies
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Raoul Peck, this 2016 documentary and social critique is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House. The project was slated to include personal accounts, including the murders of three close revolutionary friend—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Miss Juneteenth, Amazon Prime
Starring Nicole Beharie and Insecure’s Kendrick Sampson, this drama film follows a former beauty queen and single mom who prepares her teen daughter for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant. Did you know that Miss Juneteenth is a real contest in Texas, and writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples attended pageants while growing up in Fort Worth?
When They See Us, Netflix
The four-part limited series starring Jharrell Jerome as Korey Wise and Asante Blackk as 14-year-old Kevin Richardson tells the heartbreaking story of the exonerated members of the Central Park Five. The miniseries was created, co-written and directed by Ava DuVernay.
Whose Streets?, Amazon Prime
Created from the perspective of activists and leaders, this Sabaah Folayan-directed documentary features raw footage from the 2014 Ferguson Protests, following the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
American Son, Netflix
The Emmy-nominated film based on the Broadway play stars Scandal actress Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale in this single-scene Florida setting when a separated interracial couple reunites to locate their missing son.
Left Out, YouTube
ESSENCE’s Senior News and Politics Editor Malaika Jabali made her docushort film debut in February 2020, as she traveled to Milwaukee to connect with “Black residents —who are facing one of the worst economic crises in America’s history” about the historic election cycle between Presidents Biden and Trump.
High On The Hog, Netflix
The limited series cooks up a conversation about how Black food served as the foundation for what we know today as American food. Join chef and writer Stephen Satterfield in this docuseries as he travels from Texas to Africa in this Netflix docuseries.
The miniseries starring Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated Black-ish actor Laurence Fishburne follows Nelson Mandela’s stoic leadership in three-part, six-hour presentation. Based on Mandela’s autobiographies Conversations With Myself and Nelson Mandela by Himself, the series was produced in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.