Every February, the country pays tribute to the struggles and celebrates the accomplishments of African Americans during Black History Month, but it shouldn't stop then. This collection of
movies about Black history to watch with your family can help you do that all year long.
Spearheaded by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded by historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland,
Black History Month began as national Negro History week in 1926. It wasn't until 40 years later that President Gerald Ford officially recognized the celebration as Black History Month in 1976.
In 2021, the theme is “
Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” According to the ASALH, this year's theme highlights the "African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States."
"The black family knows no single location, since family reunions and genetic-ancestry searches testify to the spread of family members across states, nations, and continents," the organization explains." ... The family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present."
With this beautiful and important theme in mind, watching movies together as a family is one lovely way to honor Black history as we educate and pay homage. Of course, once Black History Month is over, it doesn't mean you have to archive these titles for family movie night. Black history, after all, is American history. So whether you dive into a biography feature or an incredible drama, all of these films celebrate Black history and cultural diversity.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Did you know three African-American women were behind putting the first man into orbit? Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae portray NASA's unsung heroes, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson in
Hidden Figures. Jackson calculated trajectories, launch windows, and the return paths on projects such as the Apollo 11 and the Space Shuttle program. Vaughan was the first Black woman to be promoted to head of personnel at NASA while Jackson was NASA's first Black engineer. You can watch Hidden Figures on Disney+ and Amazon. Red Tails (2012)
Starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., the NAACP Image Award-winning movie sheds much-needed light on the
Tuskegee airmen, the all-Black airmen regiment in World War II. Red Tails is rated PG-13 for sequences of war violence, so keep that in mind with your youngest viewers. You can watch Red Tails on . Disney+ Remember The Titans (2000)
Starring Denzel Washington and Will Patton,
Remember The Titans is based on the true story of African American coach Herman Boone, who integrated the T. C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971. The team went on to win the state championship game and by overcoming their racism and those who wanted to divide them, they became winners on and off the field. You can watch Remember The Titans on Disney+. 42 (2013)
Late actor Chadwick Boseman portrays the great Jackie Robinson, the first Black athlete to play in Major League Baseball. The inspiring biopic follows Robinson's time with the Brooklyn Dodgers and breaking the color barrier in baseball forever. Do note that
42 is rated for PG-13 for language, including racial slurs. You can watch 42 on Netflix and Amazon. Pride (2007)
Set in inner-city, 1970s Philadelphia,
Pride is based on the true story of Jim Ellis, an American swim coach who started a swim team for troubled teens that ultimately becomes the city's first all-Black swim team. The team is called the P.D.R. team, which stands for Pride, Determination, Resilience. The team faces racist backlash left and right, including one incident in which a white team forfeits the match because they didn't want to share the pool with them. But through their trials, they kept their pride and overcame prejudice, crime, and poverty. The movie stars Terrence Howard and the late Bernie Mac. You can watch Pride on and Hulu Amazon. The Great Debaters (2013)
Another one of Denzel Washington's great roles. In this drama set in 1935, Washington stars as Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas who forms the school's first debate team. The team goes on to challenge and defeat Harvard in the national championship.
The Great Debaters is based on a true story and is rated PG-13. (According to Eleanor Boswell-Raine, the daughter of one of the real debaters, Hamilton Boswell, the real Wiley College debate team debated at the University of Southern California.) You can watch The Great Debaters on Amazon. Akeelah and The Bee (2006)
This drama tells the story of Akeelah Anderson, an 11-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with an incredible gift for words. Through several personal trials and tribulations, she makes it to the National Spelling Bee. Starring Keke Palmer, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne, this is a story of perseverance and self-confidence that will touch any child or adult. Fun fact: the fictionalized character's name is based on a
real person. You can watch Akeelah and The Bee on Hulu, HBO, and HBO Max. Selma (2014)
A masterpiece by Ava DuVernay, this PG-13 rated drama documents some of the most tumultuous moments of the civil rights movement, which include Bloody Sunday and the
Birmingham Church Bombings that claimed the lives of four Black girls in 1963. David Oyelowo completely embodies Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, a must-see for the entire family. You can watch Selma on Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. Southside With You (2016)
Long before they became our country's first Black president and first lady, they were just a young couple falling in love the south side of Chicago. Inspired by the love story of Barack and Michelle Obama's first date, this romance is a light-hearted feature for everyone.
Southside With You is rated PG-13. You can watch Southside With You on Amazon, YouTube, and Hulu with a premium subscription. Glory (1989) Glory, an Oscar-winning, PG-13 rated drama, shines a light on the heroic 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first all-Black regiments in the Union army of the Civil War. You can watch Glory on Hulu and Amazon with premium subscriptions.