Black History on the Screen: Activism, Civics & Social Justice

Wherever there is adversity and injustice, you can always find the voices of people advocating for change. The movies and TV shows on this list pay tribute to the strength and perseverance of Black civil rights leaders, abolitionists, policymakers, and everyday heroes who have fought for justice, while also exploring the historical contexts that have made their advocacy necessary. Parents and caregivers, be advised: Some of these titles don't hold back when it comes to showing the brutality of enslavement, racism, and bigotry, which can be especially traumatizing to watch for Black and Brown kids. Before you watch, read through our detailed reviews to know what to expect, and consider watching these selections together with your kids. You can also use our guide to help you navigate these scenes while still celebrating the triumphs made by Black trailblazers and activists. When you're done here, come back to discover more Black history in science, technology, engineering, and math; dance, games, and sports; and arts, business, and culture.

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World Poster Image
MOVIE

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World

age 4+

Powerful, kid-friendly intro to black history stories.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2010)
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The Journey of Henry Box Brown Poster Image
MOVIE

The Journey of Henry Box Brown

age 5+

Powerful tale of former slave with big ideas about freedom.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2005)
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We the People Poster Image
TV

We the People

age 8+

Modern Schoolhouse Rock makes great bops from U.S. civics.

Network: Netflix (2021)
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And the Children Shall Lead Poster Image
MOVIE

And the Children Shall Lead

age 9+

A sensitive, powerful drama on race issues.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 1988)
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Becoming Poster Image
MOVIE

Becoming

age 9+

Enlightening journey with Michelle Obama on her book tour.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)
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We Are the Radical Monarchs Poster Image
MOVIE

We Are the Radical Monarchs

age 9+

Docu about girls' social justice troop inspires all ages.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)
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Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power Poster Image
MOVIE

Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power

age 10+

Heartfelt doc celebrates politician's integrity, compassion.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2021)
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John Lewis: Good Trouble Poster Image
MOVIE

John Lewis: Good Trouble

age 10+

Inspiring, timely biography of Congress' legendary activist.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)
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Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer Poster Image
MOVIE

Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer

age 10+

Essential viewing on horrific chapter in American history.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2021)
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Ruby Bridges Poster Image
MOVIE

Ruby Bridges

age 10+

Historical drama lacks subtlety but has positive messages.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 1998)
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Teach Us All Poster Image
MOVIE

Teach Us All

age 10+

Docu addresses the continuing problems of school segregation

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2017)
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All In: The Fight for Democracy Poster Image
MOVIE

All In: The Fight for Democracy

age 11+

Powerful docu about the need to protect voters' rights.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2020)
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Belle Poster Image
MOVIE

Belle

age 11+

Important, affecting, engrossing drama for tweens and up.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2014)
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Betty & Coretta Poster Image
MOVIE

Betty & Coretta

age 11+

Moving tribute to two civil rights widows' legacies.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2013)
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Let the World See Poster Image
TV

Let the World See

age 11+

Powerful docu about murder of Emmett Till, some violence.

Network: ABC (2022)
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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Poster Image
MOVIE

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

age 12+

Civil rights, love, and family drama in '60s classic.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 1967)
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Harriet Poster Image
MOVIE

Harriet

age 12+

Tubman biopic includes realistic violence, racist slurs.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2019)
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Loving Poster Image
MOVIE

Loving

age 12+

Moving drama about interracial couple's historic fight.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 2016)
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Resist Poster Image
TV

Resist

age 12+

Powerful docuseries looks into incarceration's price.

Network: YouTube Premium (2020)
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Sounder (1972) Poster Image
MOVIE

Sounder (1972)

age 12+

A strong family triumphs over poverty and racism.

On DVD/Streaming (Release Year: 1972)
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