It’s February — the shortest month of the year and that in-between month when Winter should really be Spring already. In America, it’s also Black History Month — the annual celebration of the achievements, history, and excellence of Black Americans. (Countries like Canada and the UK also devote months to celebrating Black History).
This Black History Month, take some time to celebrate and educate yourself with some good, old-fashioned Netflix time. The streaming platform is home to countless documentaries, many of which offer us a powerful look at our history and culture — as well as some of our best (and worst) moments as a country.
The documentaries below explore just a few of the many facets of Black history and life in Americans: Humans who overcame great oppression, artists who shaped and created culture, and movements that changed the world.
Here are 8 Netflix documentaries you should watch this Black History Month
Classically-trained pianist and legendary singer Nina Simone lived an iconic, complicated, and oftentimes melancholy life, with the height of her career coinciding with the height of the American Civil Rights Movement. The documentary uses archival footage, never-before-heard recordings, and some of her most famous songs to paint a picture of her life and the time she lived it in.
This documentary explores the nuances within the Black Panther Party of the 1960s, a group that is often glorified and demonized today, and the ways it shaped a revolutionary cultural awakening and tried to transform a broken and oppressive system.
People of Color have served in the U.S. Armed Forces ever since there was a U.S. Armed Forces, and yet their stories have gone mostly untold. This documentary tells the story of Black Americans in the U.S. Military through their own words.
This documentary takes a look at how school segregation didn’t truly end with Brown vs. Board of Education, and how that sparked a social justice movement to bring equal access to quality education to all students in America.
She was raised in the rural, segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas and grew to be one of the most lauded and prolific writers in American history. Featuring interviews with Angelou herself, Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and more, the documentary tells the story of the passionate way she lived her remarkable life.
This 1990’s documentary offers a glimpse into the once-secret world of 1980’s Harlem Drag Balls and the gay, Black men who used it as their refuge, pioneered the art of voguing, and shaped modern Drag culture as we now know it.
An eye-opening look at how a long legacy of discrimination and racial injustice built the modern American prison system, which incarcerates Black males at an alarmingly disproportionate rate.
You know he was a world-famous boxer, but how much do you know about his life or his views? Using his own audio diaries, I am Ali depicts the life of the man who said “I am America, I am the part you won’t recognize… Black, confident, cocky. My name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me.”