We all need more education on Black History, in this country, every month, so today I’m only going to list shows that actually address that history. And there’s a lot of great stuff out there. So let’s get right to it!
Netflix has a fair number of good shows for this subject, but I’ll start with The Black Panthers: Vanguards of the Revolution, a documentary from 2015. The Black Panthers were so important in this country on so many issues, and headed a lot of humanitarian efforts for urban blacks, especially, but they were terribly vilified in the 60’s and 70’s, by government groups, like the FBI and police. This doc tries to set the record straight and gives a much more honest and unbiased view of this seminal group Panthers. Netflix also has Maya Angelou: and Still I Rise, another PBS doc, this time from 2016. Directed by Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, this is an inspirational tale of Angelou’s life, starting with her childhood, dealing with abuse, racism and poverty, to her exciting, almost bohemian life, as a singer and actor, to working with Malcolm X, penning award-winning books and writing the Inaugural poem for Bill Clinton’s inauguration. They also have never-before-seen pictures and video, that makes this fascinating and uplifting, while portraying the racism and turmoil extant in our country, during her life. Also, on Netflix is Truth and Power, the 2016 documentary series. This series deals with numerous different issues here, but I recommend, especially the first one, with focuses mainly on the Black Lives Matter , and ordinary citizens who fought the ongoing trend of senseless killings and police brutality. And, finally, Netflix offers L.A. 92, a 2017 documentary from the National Geographic channel. This focuses on L.A. and the civil unrest in the city during and after the Rodney King trials, against the police, for the brutal beating he received at their hands. Amazon, too has some good black history shows, including A Century of Black Cinema, a 2003 doc featuring stars like Denzel Washington. This an amazing film that shows rare footage of (to me) early unknown classics , and the more known stars like Washington and James Earl Jones and Spike Lee. Amazon also has The Negro Soldier,a documentary from Frank Capra(!). This was a landmark film, of the time (it was chosen for the National Film Registry in 2011), and showcases the major contributions of black soldiers for the U.S., in wars throughout U.S. history, including World War II. It seems a bit dated now, but it’s important to be aware of how they depicted the contributions of African Americans in the forties. Amazon also offers Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the N.A.A.C.P., a 2014 PBS doc about the heroic Thurgood Marshall. This film covers Marshall’s triumph in the Supreme Court in the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education, though it was only the end of an arduous 20 year fight against segregation in schools. Marshall went on to win more Supreme Court cases than any lawyer in history, and of course, become a long serving Supreme Court justice himself.. Amazon also has Birth of a Movement, which tells the tale of activist William Monroe Trotter, who, as the editor of a black newspaper in Boston, fought to ban the racist and KKK apologist film Birth of a Nation, by D.W. Griffith. This is an amazing film originally fro Independent Lens, of PBS, featuring Henry Louis Gates, Spike Lee,Danny Glover and Walter Huston. And, finally, you can cap it all off with On This Day in Black History Month, an edifying and enlightening series on Hulu. this covers subjects from Frederick Douglass and Nelson Mandela, to Muhammed Ali and his victory in 1964.
There’s so much of fascinating illuminating shows online that trace the story of blacks in this country and around the world, that we could spend more than a month watching. Let’s do that and make it an endeavor that lasts all year long.