10 Interesting Movies And Documentaries To Watch On Juneteenth

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If you’re keen on understanding the history of African-Americans, you don’t necessarily need to attend a class. You can do so by watching some great movies and documentaries. 

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As the United States celebrates Juneteenth, a day preserved to remember the emancipation of slaves, it’s a good time to catch up with some films that’ll help you gain perspective on the matter.

Without further ado, here are 10 movies and documentaries to watch on Juneteenth.

  • 13th
  • Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement
  • Against All Odds: The Fight For The Middle Class
  • Race For Justice
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Freedom Riders
  • Eyes On The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement
  • Crime + Punishment
  • Whose Streets?
  • For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots

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1. 13th

Directed by Ava DuVernay, this is one of the films you could watch on Juneteenth. The film shares stories of how Black people got incarcerated for minor crimes during the Civil War. It focuses on the relations between race and the justice system and equates mass incarceration to acts of slavery.

The title of the film 13th refers to America’s 13th Amendment Act which prevents anyone from being subjected to any form of slavery. The film is available on Netflix

2. Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement

Another film you should have on your list for Juneteenth is Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement. 

In the aftermath of the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, protesters took to the streets to detest his death which they argued was racially motivated. 

The officer involved in the murder George Zimmerman was later acquitted. In this film, writers, actors, and activists talk about the acquittal of Zimmerman.

3. Against All Odds: The Fight For The Middle Class

Journalist Bob Herbet who wrote and directed this documentary examined the hardships that black families face when they work to set up their life in the United States.

Through the help of historical footage, Herbert looks into why black families in the US are still struggling years after their emancipation. If this whets your appetite, grab it on Juneteenth and find out what’s happening.

4. Race For Justice

Still looking for a movie to watch on Juneteenth? Consider Race For Justice tells the story of three women whose lives depict the difficulties of getting justice as black people at a time when the national debate is dominated by the themes of race and police brutality.

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5. I Am Not Your Negro

Another Juneteenth classic you should watch is I Am Not Your Negro. The film revolves around three great historical figures – Malcolm X, Dr Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers – who were all assassinated. Through James Baldwin’s book Remember This House, the film convinces Americans to treat African Americans equally.

The film was nominated for the Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Feature category, News And Documentary Emmy Award in the Outstanding Arts and Culture Documentary and Creative Recognition Award in the International Documentary Association. 

6. Freedom Riders

The film shows how black and white Americans collaborated to challenge Jim Crow laws. They travelled through the South where they were largely implemented and their course changed America forever. The story is told through a series of interviews.

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7. Eyes On The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement

Directed by Henry Hampton, Eye On The Prize recounts the story of the civil rights movement through interviews and historical data. It captures two phases. One is the time period between 1954 and 1965 when the Brown vs Board of Education debate was being heard. The second phase is between 1965 and 1985 during which the national emergence of Malcolm X happened. 

8. Crime + Punishment

This is the perfect documentary for Juneteenth. Serving police officers risk their jobs to show the world the murky world of policing New York City. They uncover the illegal practices in the New York police department and the pressure they are put under to make arrests.

9. Whose Streets?

Whose Streets is a film that was made in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown in 2014? His death brought protesters to the streets of Missouri and then went nationwide. The film is told through the lens of the people who witnessed the protests and how they brought a community together.

10. For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots

For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots is a two-part documentary that is dedicated to African American men and women in uniform.

It recognises their work in the military from the time America became a republic. The film uses different ways to communicate this:

  • Letters
  • Interviews
  • Diaries
  • Military Records
  • Journalists

On Juneteenth, it’s important that you take time and watch at least one of these films to learn more about America’s history. Which documentary have you watched or which one are you planning to watch?

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