Shows and Movies to Watch for Juneteenth as a Family
Honor African American history and culture with a family movie night.
Deena Campbell and Sarah Burns
Juneteeth (also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day) is more than a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth:” It’s a holiday that acknowledges the emancipation of Black men, women, and children who were enslaved in the United States. On June 19 in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army proclaimed in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over and slavery was finally abolished.
To acknowledge Black culture and history, we combined a list of family-friendly movies and shows to watch on Juneteeth and well beyond. Some are about the actual holiday, while others delve into Black history and race relations in America. Watch to learn how history can connect communities in celebration, education, and family belonging.
1. Juneteenth Jamboree (PBS)
The Juneteenth Jamboree series, produced by PBS in Austin, shines a spotlight on the history of the holiday while telling the stories of unsung heroes, local artists, and African American families. Best of all, you can enjoy musical performances and real-life footage from Juneteenth celebrations past. (All ages)
2. Black-ish (Hulu)
Who says sitcoms can’t be educational? The award-winning ABC series Black-ish, starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson, explores sometimes-difficult topics with humor and grace through the lens of an upper middle class African American family. Make sure you watch the first episode of the fourth season that highlights Juneteenth in a meaningful way. (Recommended for ages 10+)
3. Miss Juneteenth (Amazon Prime)
This coming-of-age story highlights the struggles of a single mom (and former beauty queen) and her teenage daughter as they prepare for the big Miss Juneteenth pageant in Fort Worth. Nominated for an NAACP award and showcased at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020, it's a must-watch for the entire family. (Unrated, recommended for ages 12+)
4. The Hate U Give (Amazon Prime)
The film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel The Hate U Give explores how teenager Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) navigates life after witnessing the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. It will make you think, cry and best of all, feel motivated to fight against racial injustice and inequality. (Rated PG-13)
5. Malcolm X (Amazon Prime)
Nominated for two Oscars, this Spike Lee film delves into the life of the civil rights leader and human rights activist Malcolm X. Tweens and teens will be captivated by the leader's journey from a Harlem gangster to a spokesman for pride, strength, and change. (Rated PG-13)
6. Selma (Hulu)
Nominated for Best Picture and winner of Best Original Song at the 87th Academy Awards — and for good reason — this epic film tells the story of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches, an important moment in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The unforgettable film follows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign to secure equal voting rights for all. (Rated PG-13)
7. I Am Not Your Negro (YouTube)
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this 95-minute documentary is based on James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript “Remember This House” that explores the history of racism in America. The documentary serves as a powerful reminder of how much more progress is needed with race relations in America. (Rated PG-13)
8. Dear White People (Netflix)
Sit with your teen to watch Black students navigate cultural bias, social injustice, and misguided activism at an Ivy League institution. Starring Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, DeRon Horton and Antoinette Robertson, each episode explores the characters’ experiences with edgy humor and thought-provoking insight. (Suggested for ages 15 +)
9. 13th (Netflix)
In this deep dive into the history of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, director Ava DuVernay explores the ways in which the American prison system is deeply connected with the history of racial inequality and slavery. Watch this documentary with older kids — some scenes include intense violence and language. (Recommended for ages 16+)