The big three streaming sites offer some good shows with African Americans, which I hope will only grow in number, but what I will mention today are shows dealing with actual black history. So we will try to stick series and movies that cover more of black history in this country and others, and the black struggle for civil rights, which still goes on today. Let’s get to it.
Back History on Netflix
Netflix has some great shows about the inequities, past and present, black have faced in this country, and one of the best is 13th, by director Ava Duvernay. Named for the 13th amendment, that ended slavery, it considers the ongoing mistreatment of blacks, including Jim Crow and the disproportionate percentage of blacks that make up today’s prison population. It’s really good and especially pertinent during this month. Also on Netflix is Mudbound, a movie directed by Dee Rees and nominated for four academy awards. It is about two families(one black, one white) farming in the Mississippi Delta at the end of World War II. It is well deserving of your time. Another great movie on Netflix is Fruitvale Station. It stars Michael B Jordan as Oscar Grant, the young man tragically killed by BART police officers in Oakland. It won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance.
Black History on Hulu
Hulu has some great movies and series about the deeper history of blacks in America, including Underground, from WGNTV and John Legend(executive producer). It stars Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Aldis Hodge, and Jessica De Gouw, and is an epic series about the Underground Railroad system of saving slaves in Antebellum Georgia. Another great historical treatment of slavery in America is Roots. Hulu has the 2016 series, starring Malachi Kirby, Forest Whitaker and Lawrence Fishburne, among others in an all-star cast. Again, like the original 1977 series, it is based on Alex Haley’s bestseller Roots, and the remake won critical acclaim and gets a 98% on rotten Tomatoes. It is well worth a view is is quite educational on the history of slavery in America. Another series about slavery in America is The Book of Negroes, a Canadian production from 2015. It is about eleven year-old Aminata Diallo, kidnapped from her village in West Africa, and her life in slavery and , finally , her freedom in England. It stars Aunjanue Ellis, Lyric Bent and Cuba Gooding Jr.. It won multiple awards, including Directors Guild of Canada awards and 4th Canadian Screen Awards.
Black History on Amazon Prime
Amazon, too, offers some wonderfully enlightening shows for Black History month. first among them is I Am Not Your Negro, the 2016 award winning documentary from director Raoul Peck. It is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and covers the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House. It is a stunning movie and gets a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Also on Amazon is African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, a six-hour documentary series from PBS and Henry Louis Gates Jr. This series is in depth, covering from the 1500’s to 2013, and it is so informative and moving. And Amazon has Moonlight, the outstanding movie from 2016 about a young man growing up gay and black in Miami. Written and directed by Barry Jenkins, and starring Mahershala Ali, in his Academy-award-nominated role, it also won the Academy Award for best picture. Amazon Prime also offers Four Little Girls, the 1997 documentary from Spike Lee, about the four little girls killed in the 16th street Baptist Church bombing of 1963, in Birmingham Alabama. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating. And it gets 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, finally, there is The March, a 2013 documentary about the 1963 march on Washington, D.C., narrated by Denzel Washington. It is directed by John Akomfrah and is an uplifting story of the march, including Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a Dream” speech. It is a happier, more positive note to end on.
So, as you can see, there is lots to motivate and inform us all on Black History in America on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.