The Filmaholic

Malcolm X (1992)

Malcolm X is a divisive figure in civil rights history due to his differences with Martin Luther King, particularly when it came to non-violent protest. While many films have been made about Malcolm X, the 1992 biographical epic starring Denzel Washington stands out as the most complete picture of the controversial figure. At 3½ hours long it can feel like it drags on a bit, but it's a film everyone should watch at least once.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

42 (2013)

42 tells the story of the first major black baseball player Jackie Robinson and the huge difficulties he faced due to the intolerance of team-members and the wider public. The outstanding Chadwick Boseman puts in another stellar performance, proving what a talent he was. A great film on its own, it also serves as an important picture of the intolerance that made his success all the more important and admirable.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Tells the true story of William O'Neal who was offered a plea deal by the F.B.I's Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. The condition of his plea deal required him to infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton so that the F.B.I. could take down the organisation, which Hoover believed was "the greatest threat to [the] internal security of the country."

More Film Info & Where to Watch

Remember the Titans (2000)

Based on the true story of coach Herman Boone, portrayed by Denzel Washington, and his attempt to integrate the a high school American football team in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1971. While it's not completely factual, adding scenes and plot devices for dramatic effect, it's based on a true story and still shows the key issue of high school integration that was a major part of the civil rights movement.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

Just Mercy (2019)

Based on the true story of how civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson began his career and worked to free a wrongly convicted death row prisoner. The case would lead to Stevenson creating the Equal Justice Initiative which provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted of crimes, poor prisoners without effective representation, and others who may have been denied a fair trial.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

Glory (1989)

Tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the Union Army's first African-American regiment in the American Civil War. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and won three, including Best Supporting Actor for Denzel Washington. While there is a particular focus on Robert Gould Shaw, the white commander of the regiment, and the black characters are fictional, they're all based on fact and show how African-Americans fought so hard for their own emancipation.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

Detroit (2017)

A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest citizens' uprisings in the history of the United States. A fact-based drama that shows the prevalent police brutality against African-Americans that still exists today. This hard-hitting drama directed by the excellent Kathryn Bigelow and starring some of the most talented up-and-coming young black actors is a must-watch.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Based on the memoir of the same name, this is a brutal but important film about the story of Solomon Northup, a free-born African American from upstate New York who was abducted while working as a travelling musician, and sold into slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor is excellent, as always, in the lead role; showing the brutality of slavery in the United States during the antebellum era.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

Mississippi Burning (1988)

One of the best films of the 1980s and a must-watch, it follows two F.B.I. Agents with wildly different styles who arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights activists and face the full force of the racist townfolk. Though fictional, it's based on the real-life murder of voting rights activists James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman by the Ku Klux Klan.

More Film Info & Where to Watch

Selma (2014)

A key moment in the history of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, Selma is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches initiated and directed by James Bevel and led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis. The film shows the bravery of African Americans as they fought for their basic human rights in the face of verbal and physical violence and oppression.

More Film Info & Where to Watch