It will never not be sadly funny that, of course, America designated its shortest month to be the one honoring Black History.
This year, however, it’s less sadly funny than just plain sad.
Ever since the uprisings last summer, set off by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, structural racism has been part of the national discourse like never before. Some folks are just waking up to its insidious, rampant nature; others feel alternately vindicated by this new awareness and betrayed by its tardiness; and others still have merely doubled down on denying that the problem even exists.
In the months since the George Floyd protests led President Trump to call Black Lives Matter “toxic propaganda,” Black voters came out in full force to elect a new president . . . only to see a coalition of white supremacists attempt to reverse that outcome by force.
That they failed is less a cause for celebration than a reason to reflect on why they attempted their coup in the first place.
In any case, it is at a somber, introspective moment in American history that the country finds itself welcoming Black History Month this year. To make the month a bit more nourishing for everyone stuck at home, though, Fast Company has scoured the streaming services for a bounty of entertaining and often enlightening films and TV shows that showcase either Black stories or the talents of Black creators.
Have a look below at 91 movies and TV series to stream during this poignant Black History Month.
Fictional movies and shows rooted in history
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix
- Da Five Bloods on Netflix
- Mudbound on Netflix
- Roots on HBO Max
- Watchmen, on HBO Max, is a cultural powerhouse that audaciously grounded the classic graphic novel in a raw, racially relevant context. It also provided a prescient history lesson on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre nine months before a planned Trump rally brought it to the forefront of the national conversation.
Biopics based on Black stories
- Fruitvale Station on Netflix
- When They See Us, on Netflix, is Ava DuVernay’s powerful, comprehensive 2019 miniseries about the Central Park 5.
- Self-Made: Madam CJ Walker on Netflix
- Loving, on Netflix, is an Oscar-nominated dramatization of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, that invalidated state laws forbidding interracial marriage.
- Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix
- Hard Lessons on Netflix
- Detroit on Hulu
- Nina on Hulu
- Judas and the Black Messiah on HBO Max, due on February 12, tells the incredible true story of Fred Hampton (played by Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya), a Black Panther leader murdered by police, and the informant (played by Lakeith Stanfield) who helped them do it.
- Just Mercy on HBO Max
- The Hurricane on HBO Max
- Malcolm X on HBO Max
- Barry, on Netflix, is not HBO’s thespian hitman series but rather a film about the adventures of a collegiate Barack Obama.
- Harriet on HBO Max
- Get On Up on HBO Max
- Ray on HBO Max
- Confirmation on HBO Max
- Bessie on HBO Max
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on HBO Max
Documentaries that tell Black stories
- Time on Amazon Prime
- I Am Not Your Negro on Netflix
- What Happened, Miss Simone? on Netflix
- Becoming, on Netflix, takes Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir from page to screen.
- LA 92 on Netflix and Burn Motherf**ker, Burn! on Amazon Prime both document the 1992 uprisings in Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict.
- The Last Dance on Netflix
- Whitney: Can I Be Me on Amazon Prime
- Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child on Amazon Prime
- Mr. Dynamite: The Rise and Fall of James Brown on Amazon Prime
- Whose Streets, on Netflix, documents the efforts of Black Lives Matter activists to bring national attention to the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
- The Trials of Muhammad Ali on Amazon Prime
- Anita: Speaking Truth to Power on Amazon Prime
- All In: The Fight for Democracy, on Amazon Prime, chronicles Stacey Abrams’s fight against voter suppression in her native Georgia, a fight that culminated in Georgia going blue in the 2020 election.
- The United States vs. Billie Holiday on Hulu starting February 26
- Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami on Hulu
- Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Netflix
- Being Serena on HBO Max
Original movies and series from Black creators
- I May Destroy You, on HBO Max, is a belated breakthrough for creator/star Michaela Coel, who is also behind the underrated gem Chewing Gum, which is coming to HBO Max on February 1.
- Moonlight on Netflix
- His House on Netflix
- Soul Food on Amazon
- Chi-Raq on Amazon
- Selah and the Spades on Amazon
- Middle of Nowhere, on Netflix as of February 11, is Ava DuVernay’s 2012 film about a woman dropping out of medical school to help her incarcerated husband.
- Sylvie’s Love on Amazon
- Sorry to Bother You on Hulu, from musician Boots Riley in his filmmaking debut, is a consistently surprising surrealist critique of capitalism.
- Eve’s Bayou on Hulu
- If Beale Street Could Talk on Hulu
- Clemency on Hulu
- Insecure on HBO Max
- Lovecraft Country on HBO Max
- The Book of Eli on HBO Max
- Us on HBO Max
- Drumline on HBO Max
- Atlanta on Hulu
- The Forty Year-Old Version on Netflix
- Dear White People on Netflix
Topical standup and sketch comedy
- Chris Rock: Total Blackout: The Tamborine Extended Cut on Netflix
- Astronomy Club, on Netflix is a slept-on sketch series that was canceled before it got is due. Among other strengths, the series masterfully skewered the kinds of Hollywood depictions of Black stories that did not make this list.
- Wanda Sykes: Not Normal on Netflix
- Dave Chappelle: 8:46 on Netflix finds the legendary comic in an emotionally vulnerable space, digesting George Floyd’s killing shortly after it took place.
- Key & Peele, on Hulu, finds Jordan Peele melding comedy and horror with partner in crime Keegan-Michael Key, developing the singular point of view on American racism that now animates his films.
Classic sitcoms, old and new
- Sister, Sister on Netflix
- The Parkers on Netflix
- Moesha on Netflix
- A Different World on Amazon Prime
- The Bernie Mac Show on Amazon Prime
- Black-ish on Hulu
- Living Single on Hulu
- Family Matters on Hulu
- The Carmichael Show on Hulu
- The Wayans Bros on HBO Max
- Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on HBO Max
Other movies and shows that tell Black stories
- The Princess and the Frog, on Netflix, marks the introduction of Disney’s first-ever Black princess.
- Pose, on Netflix, is the acclaimed series about ballroom culture in the 1980s, with a cast that actually reflects the Black trans originators who created it, while Legendary, on HBO Max, is a reality competition series that showcases how the culture remains flourishing to this day.
- American Son on Netflix
- Coming to America, on Amazon Prime, not to be confused with the sequel, Coming 2 America, due on Prime in March
- Fast Color on Amazon Prime
- Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History on Netflix
- Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices on Netflix (Common)
- The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle on Amazon Prime
- Black Earth Rising on Netflix is a U.K.-set series about the prosecution of an African militia leader in the International Criminal Court. It’s another acting showcase for Michaela Coel, which originally arrived in between the two series she created herself.
- Black Boy Joy on HBO Max
- Purple Rain on HBO Max