Although the first two weeks of February are defined for many by love and romance, let us not forget that it’s also Black History Month. There are many ways to learn about Black history, but in the interest of remaining safe while self-educating, consider some thoughtful movie watching. So, before the month ends, here’s a list of must-watch films on Netflix that celebrate Black history.
Loving follows the story of the arrest of Richard and Mildred Loving for their interracial marriage in 1958 and their banishment from their small town in Virginia. Their marriage became the first to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia in 1967. Portrayed by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, the Lovings, along with their kids, must find a way back to their home in Virginia.
If you’re looking for a more historical film, 13th is a documentary about the mass incarceration of Black people. It dives into the past to examine how the 13th amendment abolished slavery and the loopholes that were also found and used to get around it. It speaks on the racial injustice in prisons and how they are disproportionately demographically populated.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom takes place in 1927 Chicago. It tells the story of Ma Rainey and her band in a studio recording session. Ma Rainey, played by Viola Davis, is a blues singer who has been contracted by white producers. Leeve Greene, played by Chadwick Boseman, is an ambitious trumpet player in Ma Rainey’s band. Based on a play with the same name, this story depicts the struggles of black musicians in the first half of the 20th century.
Finally, Self Made — though not a movie — captures the motivational story of the first African-American self-made millionaire. It’s a miniseries that follows the life of Madam C.J. Walker, played by Octavia Spencer, and the creation of her beauty empire.