February may be Black History Month, but that doesn’t mean learning, celebrating, and uplifting Black history and how it has shaped America should be limited to just one month out of the year. And one of the best ways to celebrate Black history and culture, in February and beyond, is through film. Even though movies about slavery and civil rights movements can be uncomfortable or difficult to watch, that’s exactly what makes them so necessary. Anger and education are often what lead to change, after all. The best movies about important Black figures and events don’t just depict notable milestones in Black history, either. Black history movies also explore the complexities of race, racism, and prejudice, and watching these films allows non-Black viewers to become stronger and more knowledgable allies.
Since being stolen and brought to America as slaves in 1619, African Americans have been forced to tirelessly fight for independence and equality, while enduring harassment, prejudice, and violence. Even after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the U.S. following the end of the Civil War, the fight was far from over. Everything from Jim Crow segregation laws to race riots to acts of police brutality have attempted to keep Black Americans from thriving, and movies about Black history bring attention to those many injustices and inequities — injustices and inequities that continue to persist today.
Whether you’re looking to watch a biographical drama or a documentary, you’ll find dozens of films about African American history that are equal parts entertaining and educational. Here are just 15 Black history movies you can stream right now to learn more about the brave individuals who have fought for civil rights over the years, and the events that have forever altered American history.
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