These movies, shows and documentaries about race should be required viewing

And they’re all available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime


Protests are raging across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in connection with the death of George Floyd, and many people are re-examining their privilege and trying to educate themselves on racism.

There are plenty of movies, TV shows and documentaries on streaming networks that do a wonderful job of not only showing you how racism works and exists in America, but they’re also moving, well-produced pieces.

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Here are our suggestions, categorized by streaming network.



Directed by Ava DuVernay (she’ll come up again in this list), the documentary shows you how America changed after the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, but also kickstarted the prison boom in America.

‘LA 92’

Many young people may not know about the Rodney King trial, including the protests and riots that surrounded his case, since it happened in the early ’90s. This documentary has unseen footage of what went down back then, too.


This Oscar-winning picture tells the story of a young black gay man living in Miami. It’s a coming-of-age story, and the injustices that he faces make the film even more compelling.

‘The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson’

There wouldn’t be a Pride if it weren’t for Marsha P. Johnson. She is one of the most important activists from the LGBTQ community, and more people need to know about the incredible work she did.


Michelle Obama’s new Netflix documentary is a look into the former first lady’s childhood, and how she defied the odds and became the woman she is today.

‘When They See Us’

This mini-series directed by Ava DuVernay (told you she’d be back!) chronicles the Central Park Five, a group of young black teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.


‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

Regina King won an Oscar for her work in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which is based off the novel by James Baldwin. The story follows a young couple trying to find their place in the world, only to be dumped down by racism.

‘Whose Streets?’

Want to learn more about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, which happened after police shot 18-year-old Michael Brown? The documentary tells the story of the days of protests, unrest and riots that followed.


Ever heard of the Detroit riots and uprising that happened in 1967? It was days of civil unrest between police and civilians, and it changed the city of Detroit forever. This 2017 movie depicts some of what happened during that hot, long summer.

‘Black Stories Presents: Your Attention Please’

In this series, you’ll learn about the new faces of the activists who are on the forefront to ending police brutality and raising awareness about racism in 2020.

Amazon Prime

‘Just Mercy’

This movie recently came out and it’s a must-watch. It tells the story of how too many innocent black men are on death row with very little evidence to support their sentencing. It’s based off a true story and stars Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan.

‘The Hate U Give’

A teenager witnesses her childhood best friend get shot by a cop, and she must decide if she is going to testify on the stand or not. It’s a great film that shows how two different groups of people can react to fatal police shootings.

‘The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross’

This is a PBS documentary series that goes through the comprehensive history of how black people have lived and been treated in America, from slavery to now.


This movie is available to rent on Amazon Prime, and it’s a must-watch. DuVernay is at it again with this film, which depicts when Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Selma, Alabama, even though protesters were met with intense violence from police.

Any recommendations you’d like to add? Leave them in the comments!

About the Author

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.

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