Black Films to Watch During MLK Day

Here are five titles to screen during the holiday.


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By Laura Onyeneho, Houston Defender, Word in Black 

The Defender compiled a list of movies to watch while commemorating the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

“SELMA” (2014)

Ava DuVernay, the award-winning visionary behind such works as “Queen Sugar” and “When They See us,” directed “Selma,” a historical drama centered around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the fight for women’s voting rights, Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.


Sports fans know Colin Kaepernick as the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Others know him to be an American activist who sparked one of the biggest sports controversies in history: kneeling during the U.S national anthem to protest racial injustices. This is a six-part autobiographical limited series on Netflix created by Kaepernick, Ava DuVernay, and Michael Starrbury. Kaepernick narrated the series to officially address where everything started.


This is directorial debut of Academy Award-winning actress Regina King based on the fictionalized accounts a February 1964 meeting of Malcolm X, Muhammed Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke grappling with their places within the major changes of the Civil Rights Movement.


This is Chadwick Boseman’s final screen appearance, starring opposite Viola Davis in an adaptation of August Wilson’s play about a tense recording session with the “Mother of the Blues” in Chicago in 1927. She was among one of the first blues singers to record music. She opened doors for a new generation of blues singers while dealing with the complexities of racism and artistic exploitation.


When we reflect on the Civil Rights era, we often focus more on the bravery and sacrifice of Black men. “Betty and Coretta” shos a different angle. It depicts the friendship between Coretta Scott King (wife of Dr. King) and Dr. Betty Shabazz (wife of Malcolm X) after their husbands’ assassinations. The television movie reveals their continued commitment to fight for equality and the strength to raise families well after their husbands’ deaths.