As nationwide observance of Juneteenth begins, Americans from all over the country may be looking for movies to stream that can help them better understand the many years of systemic racism that the Black community has faced in the years since.
Juneteenth is commemorated annually on June 19, in observance of the end of slavery. On this date in 1865, Union army general Gordon Granger spoke in Galveston, Texas and read the federal orders proclaiming that everyone who had been enslaved in Texas were now free. The Emancipation Proclamation had officially freed slaves nearly two and a half years prior to this after the Union States defeated the Confederate States in the Civil war. Texas, however, had a low presence of Union troops, which caused delayed enforcement of the proclamation.
Over the next 100 years, Black Americans had to fight for legal equal rights, which was achieved with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. However, even since these equal rights acts were made law, the black community has continued to face systemic racism. The first film that can offer a better understanding of how America reached this point is Selma, a historical drama that depicts the 1965 civil rights march that Martin Luther King Jr. led from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery. This movie is currently free to rent on Amazon Prime Video. Scroll down to see more suggestions.
13th / Netflix
Just learned that @ava's tremendous documentary 13th is avail FREE on YouTube (in addition to netflix) so you have no excuse not to watch.June 5, 2020
13th is another project from DuVernay and is quite possibly the most detailed-yet-consolidated documentary on racial inequality in the United States. The main focus is the film is the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, except in the case of those convicted of a crime and imprisoned.
With a number of historical facts and expert opinions, 13th offers incredible insight into what the black community has faced from law enforcement and the judicial system over the past 155 years since slavery was abolished, as well as the past 56 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was made law.prevnext
Just Mercy / Amazon Prime Video
We believe in the power of story. #JustMercy is one resource we can offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, #JustMercy will be available to rent for free on digital platforms in the US. @eji_org pic.twitter.com/3B2IHMNk7E— Just Mercy (@JustMercyFilm) June 2, 2020
Just Mercy is a 2019 biopic about the true story of Walter McMillian — played by Jamie Foxx — a black man convicted of the 1986 murder of a White woman, and placed on death row, based entirely on the witness testimony of a convicted felon. Attorney Bryan Stevenson — played by Michael B. Jordan — takes McMillian's case and files an appeal in 1989, hoping to get justice for this man who very clearly did not commit the crime he'd been convicted of.
Stevenson would later go on to found the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that focuses on ending mass incarceration and racial inequality. Just Mercy is currently free to rent on Amazon Prime Videoprevnext
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality / HBO
We have a long way to go but we will get there with truth. Bryan Stevenson is a true hero💯🙏🏼https://t.co/bmhP3T7vgX— Dan Muller (@DanMuller) June 17, 2020
If Just Mercy strikes a chord, then the next thing you check stream is True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality. This is a 2015 HBO documentary about Stevenson's life and career.
Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and "has advocated on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system." The documentary is available to stream through HBO or for free on YouTube.prevnext
I Am Not Your Negro / Amazon Prime Video
I Am Not Your Negro is a 2016 documentary based on James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript Remember This House. It explores the history of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, through the eyes of Baldwin, who lived it and worked alongside men like Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.
The film is directed by Raoul Peck, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2017 Academy Awards. Is it available for Amazon Prime subscribers to stream anytime.prevnext
Malcom X / Netflix
In 1992, Spike Lee's Malcolm X biopic — starring Denzel Washington as the late human rights activist — opened in theaters, giving audiences a deeper look at the controversial figure. The film used Alex Haley's 1965 book The Autobiography of Malcolm X as the basis for its story, which was co-written by Lee with Arnold Perl. It is currently streaming on Netflix, along with a brilliant documentary titled Who Killed Malcolm X?prevnext
Whose Streets? / Hulu
Tonight is the night!!! Documentary’s most thorough examination of @Blklivesmatter, premiering at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on @PBS! Join the conversation online with viewers across the nation using the hashtag #WhoseStreetsPBS. Learn more: https://t.co/gSwiiKmM9s pic.twitter.com/d30fzLq9Fb— Whose Streets? (@WhoseStreetsDoc) July 30, 2018
Whose Streets? is a 2017 documentary about the death of Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police, and the subsequent uprising that followed. The film focuses on a handful of main characters including Hands Up United's co-founder Tory Russell and David Whitt, a recruiter for civilian organization Cop Watch. Whose Streets? is available to stream on Hulu, for subscribers.prevnext
Hello, Privilege. It's Me, Chelsea. / Netflix
"This is my ex-boyfriend from high school, Tyshawn. We reunited to discuss our past and the different directions our lives took. I went to Los Ángeles, and Tyshawn went to prison" Chelsea Handler
From Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/PWfH20WgDT— Riotwomennn Temporary (@RiotwomennnTemp) September 16, 2019
In 2019, Netflix released Hello, Privilege. It's Me, Chelsea, a documentary from comedian and TV host Chelsea Handler. The film follows Handler exploring the reality of White privilege, and features her having a conversation with an ex-boyfriends who is Black.
Additionally, it also features Black comedians Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, and W. Kamau Bell, as well as activists and educators such as Tim Wise, Ruby Sales, Rashad Robinson, and Carol Anderson. It is currently streaming on Netflix.prevnext
16 Shots / Showtime
Showtime has made 16 Shots available for free on YouTube. It's a must-see doc about the Laquan McDonald murder and how Chicago cops lied to protect their own. https://t.co/bxxShQV6cx— Craig Cackowski (@Cackowski) June 8, 2020
16 Shots is a 2014 Showtime documentary about the shooting of Laquan McDonald. The 17-year-old was killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, and the film documents the incident, as well as the cover-up that ensued. It is streaming on Showtime Anytime, for subscribers. It is also currently available for free on YouTube.prevnext
BlacKkKlansman / HBO
Day 22. BlacKkKlansman is a great movie that gets my blood rising throughout at the racist antagonists - but what really got me angry and upset is the montage of modern day American racists at the end, showing little has changed. pic.twitter.com/8cvO0uEaLR— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) June 12, 2020
Another Spike Lee project, BlacKkKlansman is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, a Black police officer who infiltrated and exposed the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. The film stars John David Washington — the son of Denzel Washington — as well as Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Ryan Eggold, Paul Walter Hauser, and Corey Hawkins. It is currently streaming on HBO.prevnext
The Last Black Man in San Francisco / Amazon Prime Video
The Last Black Man in San Francisco is not a story about police brutality, but rather one about the tragic reality of gentrification in major U.S. cities. The story is loosely based on the real-life experience of co-writer/star Jimmie Fails, and follows one man's struggle to retain the Bay Area home of his deceased father.
In addition to fails, it co-stars Jonathan Majors, Tichina Arnold, Rob Morgan, Mike Epps, Finn Wittrock, and Danny Glover. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is available for Amazon Prime subscribers to stream anytime.prevnext
When They See Us / Netflix
One year ago today, "When They See Us" was released on Netflix. pic.twitter.com/KCRM30qO6A— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) May 31, 2020
The film project on our list is not a film, but a limited biopic series about the Central Park Five. Created by Ava DuVernay, When They See Us tells the story of Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise — five teens who were coerced into giving false confessions about their involvement with the 1989 assault and rape of a jogger in Central Park.
The series is broken up into four parts and follows the boys from the night of the incident, all the way to their convictions being vacated, due to new evidence, more than a decade after their trial. When They See Us is now streaming on Netflix.prev