10 Great Black History Films to Watch This Or Any Month

By  · Published on February 9th, 2014

It’s February, and that means it’s Black History Month again. Naturally, a site devoted to nonfiction ought to honor the occasion with a look at great documentaries about black heroes and accomplishments. But I don’t want to focus too much on the history of struggle. Most docs on the African-American experience have involved tragedy and/or civil rights. Many heroes depicted are civil rights leaders, or they’re men and women who’ve made achievements in sports and music. There are far fewer films about more common black people or even those who are notable for other things. Where is the inspiring black equivalent to Man on Wire, for instance?

Through this month, we’re going to be highlighting docs tied to Black History Month that are currently available to watch (many of the old ones are not). Some will celebrate heroes, some will celebrate the not-famous. Some will be actual historical record, while today’s list is specifically films that use archival cinematic documentation for the purpose of telling and depicting history. These are black history documentaries, and you should make time to watch them, even if not necessarily in the designated time of the year.