Good Movies and Documentaries to Watch for Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, check out these movies and documentaries that are all streaming.
For nearly a century now, every February, people around the U.S. and Canada have observed Black History Month, a month-long celebration of the Black changemakers who have shaped history.
If you'd like to learn more about Black history, the Black experience, racism, and other related topics, this month is the perfect time to add some relevant documentaries and movies to your queue.
There are even a few environmental documentaries out there that focus on environmental racism against Black communities, which we made sure to include on this list.
So, keep reading for just a few recommendations of powerful documentaries, dramatic films, and even one comedy that you can watch for Black History Month — or anytime, all year round.
In 2016, iconic film director Ava DuVernay released the documentary 13th, named for the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. However, the film essentially shows the viewer how slavery is not truly abolished in the U.S., but rather how it was rebranded into the modern-day prison system, which is rife with racial inequality.
You can stream the award-winning 13th with a Netflix subscription, or for free on Netflix's YouTube channel in its entirety.
The Hate U Give
Based on the 2017 novel by Angie Thomas, the powerful 2018 feature film The Hate U Give stars actress Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter, a teenager who witnesses a police officer murder her best friend. The killing leads to members of the town protesting police violence and racial injustice, and Starr finds herself at the center of it all.
You can stream The Hate U Give on Hulu with a subscription, or on YouTube or Apple TV for $3.99.
There's Something in the Water
The 2019 documentary There's Something in the Water, which actor Elliot Page narrated, co-directed, and funded, gives viewers a look into environmental racism in Nova Scotia, Canada. There, Page and his co-director Ian Daniel spoke with locals and activists about how trash dumps and other hazardous sites built near Indigenous communities and Black communities are hurting and killing people.
You can rent There's Something in the Water on Amazon Prime Video for $0.99.
If you're looking for a movie that will make you laugh, feel uncomfortable, and maybe even make you consider your own behavior, you'll love You People. The 2023 Netflix film was written by Kenya Barris and Jonah Hill, and stars Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lauren London, Nia Long, and Hill.
The comedy tells the love story between a white man and a Black woman in Los Angeles, who are forced to navigate cultural differences and parents who keep getting in the way of their upcoming wedding — in very different ways.
You can watch You People on Netflix with a subscription.
Mossville: When Great Trees Fall
The documentary Mossville: When Great Trees Fall tells the story of the Louisiana town of Mossville, which was founded in the late 18th century by a man after he was freed from enslavement, as per The New York Times. For centuries, Mossville has been a mostly Black community.
However, the construction petrochemical plants nearby began putting locals in grave danger. These toxic plants allegedly caused cancer in many residents, killed many people, and uprooted many locals from their homes. The story told in Mossville: When Great Trees Fall is a sickening example of environmental racism in the U.S.
You can rent Mossville: When Great Trees Fall on Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV, or stream it with a subscription to the Roku Channel or YouTube TV.
Judas and the Black Messiah
Released in 2021, Judas and the Black Messiah is a feature film that tells the story of Black Panther Party activist Fred Hampton (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and how he was betrayed by FBI informant Bill O'Neal (played by LaKeith Stanfield) — something that ultimately led to Hampton's assassination.
You can watch Judas and the Black Messiah with a subscription to HBO Max.