Six Documentaries to Watch for Black History Month

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Who We Are A Chronicle Of Racism In America Review

February is Black History Month, and it’s a great time to honor great moments in our history, people, and groups that have made a difference and learn more about parts of history that we were never taught in school. This month PBS is releasing specific documentaries on their Amazon Prime channel ($3.99/month with your Prime subscription) Some of the highlighted programs include documentaries about the Black Panther Party, the pivotal role of historically Black colleges and universities, the history and culture of the Black church in African American communities, the life of an American icon and arguably the greatest boxer of all time, the millennia-long history of Africa, and much more.

Not all of the documentaries and stories are from PBS, and some will be released in theaters. From eye-opening moments to things that will reshape how you think of the world around you and help you honor the experiences of your neighbors.

Who We Are: A Chronical of Racism in America

Who We Are A Chronicle Of Racism In America Review

(Opens in NY/LA on 1/14, Opens in Detroit 2/4) Interweaving lecture, personal anecdotes, interviews, and shocking revelations, in WHO WE ARE — A Chronicle of Racism in America, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.

Directed by Emily Kunstler & Sarah Kunstler(SONY PICTURES CLASSICS)

Check out our review of Who We Are

AFRICA’S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS

3 Episodes Available February 1st on PBS Documentaries on Amazon Prime

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes a look at the history of Africa, from the birth of humankind to the dawn of the 20th century. This is a breathtaking and personal journey through two hundred thousand years of history – from the origins, on the African continent, of art, writing and civilization itself, through the millennia in which Africa and Africans shaped not only their own rich civilizations, but also the wider world. Gates travels the length and breadth of Africa to chronicle the continent’s history from a firmly African perspective, and it’s a journey full of surprises and unexpected connections that highlight the collective and individual genius of Africans who, across thousands of years, built civilizations and empires, fought wars, established great cities, furthered and spread learning, and created some of the most sublime art and architecture in human history.

THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG

Available February 1st on PBS Documentaries on Amazon Prime

Producer, host and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power. Gates reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from African to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage. Featuring Oprah WinfreyJohn LegendJennifer HudsonPresiding Bishop Michael CurryYolanda AdamsPastor Shirley CaesarBeBe WinansRev. Al SharptonCornel West, and many others.

THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION

Available February 1st on PBS Documentaries on Amazon Prime

In the turbulent 1960s, change was coming to America and the fault lines could no longer be ignored – cities were burning, Vietnam was exploding and disputes raged over equality and civil rights. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to drastically transform the system. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense would, for a short time, put itself at the vanguard of that change. This film, from master documentarian Stanley Nelson, explores the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for Black people and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails.

MUHAMMAD ALI

Available February 1st on PBS Documentaries on Amazon Prime

Filmmaker Ken Burns brings to life one of the best-known and most indelible figures of the 20th century – Muhammad Ali, the boxing champion who captivated millions throughout the world with his mesmerizing combination of speed, grace and power in the ring, and charm and playful boasting outside of it. He wrote his own rules – in the ring and in his life – infuriating his critics, baffling his opponents and riveting his fans. He spoke his mind and stood on principle, staying true to his Islamic faith and refusing induction into the U.S. Army, even when it cost him his livelihood. Banished for his beliefs, he returned to boxing an underdog, reclaimed his title twice, and became the most famous man on earth. An intimate portrait of a larger-than-life global icon, this is the story of an exceptional athlete whose influence transcends boxing.

TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Available February 1st on PBS Documentaries on Amazon Prime

The rich history of America’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) began before the end of slavery, flourished in the 20th century and profoundly influenced the course of the nation for over 150 years – yet remains largely unknown. Filmmakers Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams highlight the powerful story of the rise, influence and evolution of HBCUs – long a haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries, and a path toward the American dream. These institutions have nurtured some of the most influential Americans of our time, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, and Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.

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