Documentaries can open windows to our past.
Through the lens of talented filmmakers, we can re-live iconic moments in history like the 1963 March on Washington or climb aboard a Greyhound bus to join the Freedom Riders on their journey through the Jim Crow South. Documentaries offer rich insight into our society and culture, connect us to some of our proudest and most shameful moments in American history, and remind us of how far we’ve come. What follows is a list of powerful documentaries exploring Black history and culture in America.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
This Emmy Award-winning series premiered in 2013 and looks at more than just Black history, it explores Black identity and what it means to be an African American in the U.S. today. Unveiling different religious and social perspectives, a multiplicity of cultural perspectives, and the evolution of the African American people, this series spans five hundred years and two continents as Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes viewers on a journey of the Black experience throughout the United States. On the way, he visits historic sites, engages in passionate debates with America’s top historians on African American history, and interviews eyewitnesses who have been on the frontlines of change.
Throughout the series, Dr. Gates highlights tragedies, triumphs and contradictions throughout Black history, revealing that the African American community has never been a uniform entity and sheds new light on what it means to be African American.