20 Movies to Stream on Netflix for Black History Month

‘Tis (always) the season to amplify Black voices and brush up on our history. And while we’ve already gotten a head start with our favorite Black authors, we’re keeping the momentum going with Netflix’s best movies for Black History Month.

The streaming service offers a myriad of great options, including riveting dramas like Passing, documentaries like Homecoming and classics like Spike Lee’s She's Gotta Have It. But if you’d rather avoid spending that extra hour scrolling through dozens of titles, keep reading for 20 of the best movies that celebrate Black culture.

20 Must-Watch Shows to Stream During Black History Month, According to an Entertainment Editor

1. ‘the Butler’ (2013)

This is the story of a White House butler, who served underneath eight U.S. presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan. The movie focuses on his decades-long career inside the most important building in the country as the nation—and he—faces monumental changes like the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam War. (Bonus points: It has an all-star cast, including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and Cuba Gooding Jr.)

2. ‘american Son’ (2019)

When their teenage son goes missing, an estranged, interracial couple is forced to reunite at a Florida police station in an attempt to bring him home safely as systemic racial injustice and prejudice continually get in the way.

3. ‘13th’ (2016)

The documentary’s title refers to the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery in 1865. In the movie, filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores issues of race, justice and mass incarceration by calling upon scholars, activists and politicians to analyze how our prison system disproportionately affects people of color. Oh, and did we mention 13th was nominated for an Academy Award?

4. ‘loving’ (2016)

The year is 1958. A young interracial couple decides to get married, resulting in an infamous case that rocked the Supreme Court. Not only is it based on a true story, but if also offers a glimpse into the true years-long fight for interracial marriage rights.

5. ‘see You Yesterday’ (2019)

Meet two Brooklyn teenagers, C.J. Walker and Sebastian Thomas, who build a time machine in an attempt to alter the events of the past and save Walker’s brother, Calvin, from being shot and killed by an NYPD officer. The family-driven storyline is ideal for young viewers, who are interested in learning more about police brutality in the Black community.

6. 'i Am Not Your Negro' (2016)

This movie is based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin. Not only does it cover the history of racism in America, but it also focuses on the stories of Civil Rights leaders like Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Think of this documentary as the first step in a much-needed history lesson.

7. ‘she's Gotta Have It’ (1986)

In this daring Spike Lee movie, Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), an ambitious Brooklyn artist, juggles relationships with three men (played by Lee, Redmond Hicks and John Canada Terrell) as she follows her dreams. The classic was groundbreaking (and even controversial) for its honest exploration of Black female sexuality.

8. ‘becoming’ (2020)

Inspired by the former first lady’s memoir of the same name, Becoming chronicles Michelle Obama’s 34-city book tour, including footage of her travels and insight into her previous role as First Lady. Although it doesn’t include any bombshell reveals or intimate details about her life, Becoming offers plenty of heartfelt and inspiring moments.

9. ‘homecoming’ (2019)

It’s never a bad time to relive Beychella—better known as one of the biggest milestones in pop culture history. Written, produced and directed by Beyoncé herself, the concert film offers a more intimate look at the first Black woman to headline the Coachella Music Festival. Aside from footage of her performances, the film includes an in-depth look at her creative process.

10. ‘ma Rainey's Black Bottom’ (2020)

Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman and Colman Domingo star in this biographical drama, which depicts Ma Rainey (Davis), the famous Blues singer, in one of her most intense recording sessions. It all unfolds in Chicago during the ’20s—a time when racial tensions were at an all-time high.

11. ‘the Harder They Fall’ (2021)

When a notorious outlaw, Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), learns that his greatest enemy, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), is out of prison, he immediately concocts a plan to seek revenge, with the help of his gang. (FYI, the main characters were inspired by real-life Black cowboys and outlaws from the 19th-century.)

12. ‘get On Up’ (2014)

Chadwick Boseman steals the show as James Brown, AKA the Godfather of Soul in Get on Up, which chronicles the singer’s incredible journey from poverty to fame. The film touches on his involvement in politics and the civil rights movement, as well as his tumultuous romantic relationships.

13. ‘mudbound’ (2017)

Set during the aftermath of World War II, Mudbound focuses on two veterans as they return home to Mississippi. Aside from struggling to adjust to the Jim Crow South, they must also deal with their severe war trauma. The Oscar-nominated film stars Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell and Mary J. Blige.

14. ‘kevin Hart's Guide To Black History’ (2019)

Comedian Kevin Hart educates us on a few of Black history's unsung heroes in this wholesome variety special, which features archival footage and a few fun re-enactments. Expect appearances by Tiffany Haddish, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Jay Johnston and more.

15. ‘the Best Of Enemies’ (2018)

Based on Osha Gray Davidson's book, this fascinating drama film depicts the true story of Ann Atwater, a civil rights activist who forms an unlikely relationship with her former rival, Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis.

16. ‘two Distant Strangers’ (2021)

If you want to understand the struggle of living as a Black person in America, then you need to watch Two Distant Strangers. Inspired by George Floyd's murder, the Academy Award winner tells the story of a Black graphic designer who finds himself trapped in time loop that always ends with his death, thanks to his repeated encounters with a white NYPD officer.

17. ‘blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali’ (2021)

It's widely known that Muhammad Ali had a tight knit friendship with civil rights leader Malcolm X, but why did their relationship go south? This documentary explores their brotherhood with rare footage and interviews with their friends.

18. ‘da 5 Bloods’ (2020)

Spike Lee strikes gold with this war drama, which focuses on four Black Vietnam War veterans who embark on a mission to find the remains of their fallen squad leader and recover the gold they all hid while serving in the country.

19. ‘monster’ (2018)

Inspired by Walter Dean Myers' equally compelling book, Monster details the story of Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a 17-year-old honor student who's falsely charged with murder. It sheds light on the nation’s flawed justice system, while also tackling themes like peer pressure, masculinity and Black identity.

20. ‘amend: The Fight For America’ (2021)

What does the 14th amendment really mean? What is “justice and equality for all”? This documentary seeks to answer those questions honestly, featuring historical footage and thought-provoking commentary that’ll get you thinking about the nation’s progress. (We know, it's not technically a movie, but we’ll let this one slide.)