Black history should always be recognized as a fundamental piece of American history, from historical mistreatment to modern cultural impact. Kick off Black History Month with a celebration of Black artists and Black stories, fictional and nonfictional.
For more TV + movie suggestions, check out our previous articles – 10 movies by Black directors, Books and films that discuss racism, 5 series about race in America – and keep your eyes peeled for more articles throughout Black History Month.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
About: Tensions rise when trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey and her band gather at a recording studio in Chicago in 1927.
One Night in Miami (2021)
About: One Night in Miami is a fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
About: Fred Hampton, a young, charismatic activist, becomes Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party — putting him directly in the crosshairs of the government, the FBI, and the Chicago Police. But to destroy the revolution, the authorities are going to need a man on the inside.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017)
About: In 1951, cancerous cells from Henrietta Lacks lead to breakthroughs that change the face of medicine forever. Aided by writer Rebecca Skloot, Deborah Lacks embarks on a quest to learn about the mother she never knew.
About: An African American washerwoman rises from poverty to build a beauty empire and become the first female self-made millionaire.
Black Art: In the Absence of Light (2021)
About: HBO’s “Black Art: In the Absence of Light,” which aims to illuminate the works of up-and-coming Black visual artists, will debut Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. The film, inspired by late artist and curator David Driskell’s exhibition “Two Centuries of Black American Art,” is directed and produced by Sam Pollard. Interweaving interviews from scholars and historians, as well as Black curators and collectors, the documentary provides a vibrant look at a new generation of artists, their creative process and their rising impact in Black art and culture.
The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019)
About: ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke is a 2019 documentary film about Sam Cooke, the artist and activist, and the circumstances and controversy surrounding his murder.
All Day and a Night (2020)
About: While serving life in prison, a young man looks back at the people, the circumstances and the system that set him on the path toward his crime.
Saturday Church (2017)
About: A teen struggling with gender identity and family tensions seeks hope and support in New York City’s underground LGBTQ ballroom community.
About: Following her mother’s abrupt departure, a dynamic and determined teen goes to extraordinary lengths to protect and provide for her younger brother.