Great African American Movies

These movies span the full range of African American cinema, from the funny but powerful Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing to the sentimental drama of Alice Walker's novel-turned-movie The Color Purple. Teens and parents will find much to appreciate in these films that bring to life the experiences of the past that have shaped us all -- from the Civil War to civil rights. For more fantastic movies, check out our list of Movies with Inspiring Role Models for African American Girls.

Browse Great African American Movies

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World Movie Poster Image
Powerful, kid-friendly intro to black history stories.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story Movie Poster Image
Inspirational animated tale of famous black ballerina soars.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Garrett's Gift Movie Poster Image
Smart animation introduces African-American inventor.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2007)
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The Journey of Henry Box Brown Movie Poster Image
Powerful tale of former slave with big ideas about freedom.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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Our Friend, Martin Movie Poster Image
Dated movie about MLK Jr. offers positive lessons for kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1999)
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And the Children Shall Lead Movie Poster Image
A sensitive, powerful drama on race issues.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1988)
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A Ballerina's Tale Movie Poster Image
Engrossing dance docu introduces powerful role model.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Thunder Soul Movie Poster Image
Uplifting docu spotlights legendary high school jazz band.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2011)
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Hidden Figures Movie Poster Image
Inspiring true story of African-American women at NASA.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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John Lewis: Good Trouble Movie Poster Image
Inspiring, timely biography of Congress' legendary activist.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Ruby Bridges Movie Poster Image
Historical drama lacks subtlety but has positive messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1998)
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Remember the Titans Movie Poster Image
Inspiring football drama brings history to life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2000)
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Woodlawn Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming fact-based drama about faith, race, football.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Betty & Coretta Movie Poster Image
Moving tribute to two civil rights widows' legacies.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Drumline Movie Poster Image
Outstanding cast, great message, strong language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2002)
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The Express Movie Poster Image
Inspirational true story tackles race, football.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2008)
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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Movie Poster Image
Civil rights, love, and family drama in '60s classic.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1967)
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Loving Movie Poster Image
Moving drama about interracial couple's historic fight.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Pride Movie Poster Image
Inspiring sports tale takes on racism; cursing, drugs.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2007)
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A Raisin in the Sun Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful, play-based drama examines racism.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2008)
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Sounder (1972) Movie Poster Image
A strong family triumphs over poverty and racism.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1972)
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The Watsons Go to Birmingham Movie Poster Image
Warm family drama brings the civil rights movement to life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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The Banker Movie Poster Image
'60s-set drama highlights housing, banking discrimination.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Barbershop Movie Poster Image
Engaging ensemble comedy has some salty language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2002)
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Boycott Movie Poster Image
Humanizing look at start of civil rights movement.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2001)
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Claudine Movie Poster Image
'70s romantic drama about black family has cursing, violence
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1974)
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Crooklyn Movie Poster Image
Nuanced depiction of a black family in Brooklyn; language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1994)
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The Great Debaters Movie Poster Image
Inspiring true story confronts racism head-on.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2007)
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The Hate U Give Movie Poster Image
Powerful, thought-provoking drama about race, activism.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Hoop Dreams Movie Poster Image
Stunning documentary addresses race and class issues.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1994)
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I Am Not Your Negro Movie Poster Image
Powerful documentary explores race, art, and activism.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Movie Poster Image
Forceful telling of Angelou's coming-of-age book.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1999)
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(In)Visible Portraits Movie Poster Image
Black women explore, challenge life-shaping ideas.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Just Mercy Movie Poster Image
Effective, intense drama about racism and justice; swearing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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A Kid from Coney Island Movie Poster Image
Inspiring sports docu shows value of perseverance.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Killing Floor Movie Poster Image
Violence, language, racism in excellent historical drama.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1984)
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The Last Black Man in San Francisco Movie Poster Image
Painful portrait of gentrification in extraordinary indie.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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The Long Walk Home Movie Poster Image
Moving Civil Rights story heavy on "N" word but uplifting.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1991)
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Malcolm X Movie Poster Image
Insightful and well-rounded portrait of Malcolm X.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1992)
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A Raisin in the Sun Movie Poster Image
Classic based on the Pulitzer prize-winning play.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1961)
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Selma Movie Poster Image
Outstanding drama about MLK's fight for equal rights.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Strong Island Movie Poster Image
Emotionally raw docu on racial injustice in America.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till Movie Poster Image
Eye-opening docu on horrific '50s murder has graphic images.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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1 Angry Black Man Movie Poster Image
Lovely but quiet, mature drama shows the power of art.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Black List: Vol. 1 Movie Poster Image
Profound docu explores African-American racial identity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2008)
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Coach Carter Movie Poster Image
Engaging film with a terrific message.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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The Color Purple Movie Poster Image
Powerful tale of survival with wrenching scenes of abuse.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1986)
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Eyes on the Prize Movie Poster Image
Award-winning history of the American Civil Rights movement.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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Good Hair Movie Poster Image
Funny, smart docu is OK for older teens.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2009)
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Roots Movie Poster Image
Classic miniseries is essential viewing for mature teens.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1977)
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Street Fighting Men Movie Poster Image
Powerful docu on three Detroit men; some cursing, violence.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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The Tuskegee Airmen Movie Poster Image
True story of African-Americans in WWII has mature themes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1995)
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12 Years a Slave Movie Poster Image
Imperfect but must-see epic drama with major cruelty.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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BlacKkKlansman Movie Poster Image
Lots of language in Lee's fact-based dark comedy.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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The Book of Negroes Movie Poster Image
Riveting slavery epic is artful, sobering, and inspiring.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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If Beale Street Could Talk Movie Poster Image
Mature, beautifully acted drama from "Moonlight" director.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Mudbound Movie Poster Image
Masterful drama set in 1940s South has brutality, racism.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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The Rape of Recy Taylor Movie Poster Image
Awful crime becomes civil rights flash point in moving docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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What Happened, Miss Simone? Movie Poster Image
Intense docu on iconic musician; graphic talk of abuse.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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13th Movie Poster Image
Searing docu decries racial bias; intense violence, cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Ali Movie Poster Image
Ali
Brutal fight scenes and frank racial issues.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2001)
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Bessie Movie Poster Image
Gritty biopic has sex, violence, drinking, great music.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Blindspotting Movie Poster Image
Smart, thoughtful dramedy explores race and violence.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Detroit Movie Poster Image
Essential drama about violent chapter in U.S. history.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Do the Right Thing Movie Poster Image
Spike Lee's masterwork of racial unrest; discuss with kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1989)
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Eve's Bayou Movie Poster Image
'90s African American family drama has violence, language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1997)
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Glory Movie Poster Image
Excellent Civil War movie has graphic violence, profanity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1989)
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Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Movie Poster Image
Rise and fall of talented star documents racism, sexuality.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1999)
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Our Song Movie Poster Image
Honest, positive look at urban teens; mature themes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2001)
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Queen & Slim Movie Poster Image
Romantic thriller has violence, but there's love, too.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Rosewood Movie Poster Image
Action-packed historical drama; some violence.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1997)
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Waves Movie Poster Image
Intense drama reflects teen culture; substance use, cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts Movie Poster Image
Spike Lee's masterful and disturbing Katrina docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2006)
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Da 5 Bloods Movie Poster Image
Intense tale of war, racial politics; violence, language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Dear White People Movie Poster Image
Satire offers insightful, very edgy look at race relations.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Dope Movie Poster Image
Brilliant, mature coming-of-age story explores race, class.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Fruitvale Station Movie Poster Image
Powerful, mature drama based on tragic-real life shooting.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Get Out Movie Poster Image
Horror-thriller is surprising, shocking, timely, and funny.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Moonlight Movie Poster Image
Heartbreaking, mature, unforgettable coming-of-age drama.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Sorry to Bother You Movie Poster Image
Very mature satire is unique, impossible to dismiss.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Straight Outta Compton Movie Poster Image
Edgy but powerful story of incendiary '80s rap group.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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