TV Shows & Movies

We've personally curated a list of TV Shows, movies, and documentaries to learn more about the black experience.

Movies & TV

Black-ish (2014)

Director(s): Kenya Barris

TV Show

Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) has it all - a great job, beautiful wife Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids and a big home in a classy neighbourhood - but as a black man, he begins to question whether all his success has brought too much cultural assimilation for his family. With the help of his father (special guest star Laurence Fishburne), Dre begins to try to create a sense of ethnic identity for the members of his family that will allow them to honour their background while preparing them to embrace the future.

Luke Cage (2016)

Director(s): multiple

TV Show

This gritty, action-packed drama follows the evolution of Luke Cage (Mike Colter), a man with super strength and unbreakable skin caused by a sabotaged experiment. After a failed relationship with fellow superhero Jessica Jones, Cage tries to rebuild a quiet life in Harlem, New York --until he is pulled out of the shadows and forced into a battle for his city. Along the way, Cage cannot avoid confronting his past, which he has worked hard to bury. “Marvel's Luke Cage” is the third show in the Netflix-original Defenders series.

When They See Us (2019)

Director(s): Ava DuVernay

TV Show

In 1989 a jogger was assaulted and raped in New York's Central Park, and five young people were subsequently charged with the crime. The quintet, labeled the Central Park Five, maintained its innocence and spent years fighting the convictions, hoping to be exonerated. This limited series spans a quarter of a century, from when the teens are first questioned about the incident in the spring of 1989, going through their exoneration in 2002 and ultimately the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014.

Watchmen (2019)

Director(s): Zack Snyder

TV Show

Based on the celebrated graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the exciting and dark “Watchmen” takes place in Tulsa, Okla., 34 years after the original story. After a white supremacist attack on the local police department, which leaves only two surviving cops on the beat, laws are passed that allow the cops to hide their identities behind masks. One of these cops, Angela Abar, adopts the identity of Sister Night and fights racists while dealing with the decades-long legacy of the vigilantes.

Dear White People (2017)

Director(s): Justin Simien

TV Show

Based on the acclaimed film of the same name, this Netflix-original series follows a group of students of color at Winchester University, a predominantly white Ivy League college. The students are faced with a landscape of cultural bias, social injustice, misguided activism and slippery politics. Through an absurdist lens, the series uses irony, self-deprecation, brutal honesty and humor to highlight issues that still plague today's “post-racial” society. Creator Justin Simien serves as an executive producer.

A Different World (1987)

Director(s): Debbie Allen

TV Show

Denise Huxtable is in “a different world” -- predominantly black Hillman College -- in this popular “Cosby Show” spinoff. A sophomore, Denise shares her quarters with divorced freshman Jaleesa and naive Maggie, one of Hillman's few white students. Other Hillman students include Whitley, a Southern belle full of attitude; Dwayne, a math major, and his best friend, Ron; and Col. Taylor, aka “Dr. War.”

The Wire (2002)

Director(s): David Simons, Ed Burns, George Pelecanos, David Mills

TV Show

This series looks at the narcotics scene in Baltimore through the eyes of law enforcers as well as the drug dealers and users. Other facets of the city that are explored in the series are the government and bureaucracy, schools and the news media. The show was created by former police reporter David Simon, who also wrote many of the episodes.

Insecure (2016)

Director(s): Issa Rae, Natasha Rothwell, Regina Y. Hicks

TV Show

Modern-day black women might be described as strong and confident; in other words, just the opposite of Issa and Molly. As the best friends deal with their own real-life flaws, their insecurities come to the fore as together they cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences. Created by co-star Issa Rae and writer/comic Larry Wilmore, the comedy series looks at the friendship of two black women in a unique, authentic way. It features the music of both indie and established artists of color, and touches on a variety of social and racial issues that relate to the contemporary black experience.

Let the Fire Burn (2013)

Director(s): Jason Osder

Documentary

Filmmaker Jason Osder illustrates how prejudice, intolerance and fear can lead to unthinkable acts of violence.

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Director(s): Ryan Coogler

Movie

Though he once spent time in San Quentin, 22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard to live a clean life and support his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and young daughter (Ariana Neal). Flashbacks reveal the last day in Oscar's life, in which he accompanied his family and friends to San Francisco to watch fireworks on New Year's Eve, and, on the way back home, became swept up in an altercation with police that ended in tragedy. Based on a true story.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Director(s): Robert Mulligan

Movie

Scout Finch (Mary Badham), 6,and her older brother, Jem (Phillip Alford), live in sleepy Maycomb, Ala., spending much of their time with their friend Dill (John Megna) and spying on their reclusive and mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley (Robert Duvall). When Atticus (Gregory Peck), their widowed father and a respected lawyer, defends a black man named Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) against fabricated rape charges, the trial and tangent events expose the children to evils of racism and stereotyping.

The Hate U Give (2018)

Director(s): George Tillman Jr.

Movie

Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds -- the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what's right.

To Sleep with Anger (1990)

Director(s): Charles Burnett

Movie

Vagabond Harry (Danny Glover) pays an unexpected visit to his old chum Gideon (Paul Butler), who accepts the aimless man into his home, despite the fact that the household is already overcrowded. Hard-drinking yet charismatic, Harry both entertains and enrages Gideon and his wife, Suzie (Mary Alice). However, after Gideon falls gravely ill, Harry decides to step in and take his friend's place in the household. Unfortunately, his intentions are far from pure, and the consequences are tragic.

13th (2016)

Director(s): Ava DuVernay

Documentary

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation's prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.

Get Out (2017)

Director(s): Jordan Peele

Movie

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

In the Heat of the Night (1988)

Director(s): Norman Jewison

TV Show

Carroll O'Connor stars as a small-town police chief (and later a sheriff) in fictional Sparta, Miss. For a small town, Sparta has its share of murder, rape, corruption, racism and drunken driving, so O'Connor's Chief William Gillespie has his hands full. The TV series is based on the novel and film of the same name.

Dead Presidents (1995)

Director(s): Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

Movie

Soldier Anthony Curtis (Larenz Tate) returns to his Bronx home after a nightmarish tour of duty in Vietnam. But the nightmare continues for Anthony and his friends as they suffer the indignities of trying to find steady work and provide for their families in a flagging economy. As desperation takes hold, Anthony teams up with Skip (Chris Tucker), a drug addict, and Kirby (Keith David), a small-time crook, to pull off a bank heist that will give them all a chance for a better life.

Moonlight (2016)

Director(s): Barry Jenkins

Movie

A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Director(s): Spike Lee

Movie

Salvatore “Sal” Fragione (Danny Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out (Giancarlo Esposito), becomes upset when he sees that the pizzeria's Wall of Fame exhibits only Italian actors. Buggin' Out believes a pizzeria in a black neighborhood should showcase black actors, but Sal disagrees. The wall becomes a symbol of racism and hate to Buggin' Out and to other people in the neighborhood, and tensions rise.

Malcolm X (1992)

Director(s): Spike Lee

Movie

A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his imprisonment in the '50s, he became a Black Muslim and then a leader in the Nation of Islam. His assassination in 1965 left a legacy of self-determination and racial pride.

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