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What Movies and TV Shows to Watch to Honor, Reflect, and Celebrate #JuneTeenth 

In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free.


When Texas fell and Granger dispatched his now-famous order No. 3, it wasn’t exactly instant magic for most of the Lone Star State’s 250,000 slaves. On plantations, masters had to decide when and how to announce the news — or wait for a government agent to arrive — and it was not uncommon for them to delay until after the harvest. Even in Galveston city, the ex-Confederate mayor flouted the Army by forcing the freed people back to work.


More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.


As we observe Juneteenth day that which symbolizes freedom from slavery check out these movies and series that highlight aspects of the Black experience.


MISS JUNETEENTH


A former beauty queen and single mom prepare her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.



THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD


After escaping a Georgia plantation, Cora boards a train embarking on a harrowing trip as she seeks true freedom while being hunted by a notorious slave catcher.



WATCHMEN


Based on the celebrated graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the exciting and dark "Watchmen" takes place in Tulsa, Okla., 34 years after the original story. After a white supremacist attack on the local police department, which leaves only two surviving cops on the beat, laws are passed that allow the cops to hide their identities behind masks. One of these cops, Angela Abar, adopts the identity of Sister Night and fights racists while dealing with the decades-long legacy of the vigilantes.



BLACK-ISH


Dismayed by the twins' Columbus Day school play, Dre works on a catchy song to raise awareness about a black holiday that is worth celebrating.



JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH


The critically-acclaimed film Judas and the Black Messiah (2021), released by Warner Bros. Pictures, follows the story of another Black Panther Party personality — its leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) — and his betrayal by the film’s “Judas,” FBI informant William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield). Both actors were nominated for the same Oscar category for their performances in the movie, but Kaluuya ultimately won the award. Stream it on HBO Max.



QUEEN SUGAR


"Queen Sugar" tells the story of the estranged Bordelon siblings in Louisiana. At the center of the family are Nova, a journalist and activist; Charley, the wife and manager of an NBA player; and formerly incarcerated father Ralph Angel, who is searching for redemption. Following a tragedy in the family, the siblings must put their complicated lives aside so that they can come together to run the clan's struggling sugar cane farm. Also involved in the farm are Aunt Violet and family friend Remy Newell.



I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO


Am Not Your Negro is a 2016 documentary and social critique film directed by Raoul Peck, based on James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript Remember This House. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin's reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his personal observations of American history.



13TH


Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation's prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.



SELMA


Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for Blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated with President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.



AMISTAD

In 1839, the slave ship Amistad set sail from Cuba to America. During the long trip, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads the slaves in an unprecedented uprising. They are then held prisoner in Connecticut, and their release becomes the subject of heated debate. Freed slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman) wants Cinque and the others exonerated and recruits property lawyer Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey) to help his case. Eventually, John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) also becomes an ally.



GLORY


Following the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is offered command of the United States' first all-African-American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. With junior officer Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes), Shaw puts together a strong and proud unit, including the escaped slave Trip (Denzel Washington) and the wise gravedigger John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman). At first, limited to menial manual tasks, the regiment fights to be placed in the heat of battle.



IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK


In the early 1970s, Harlem, daughter, and wife-to-be Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect, and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny. Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.



HIGH ON THE HOG: HOW AFRICAN AMERICAN CUISINE TRANSFORMED AMERICA


Food writer Stephen Satterfield traces the origins of African-American cuisine, tracing its through lines from Africa to Texas.


UNDERGROUND


Driven by the dreams of a courageous blacksmith named Noah, some plantation slaves in 1850s Georgia band together to attempt a daring escape. The fight for their lives, their futures, and their freedom leads to Noah's risk-filled plan to travel hundreds of miles away via the Underground Railroad.


RED TAILS


During World War II, the Civil Aeronautics Authority selects 13 black cadets to become part of an experimental program at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The program aims at training "colored personnel" to become fighter pilots for the Army. However, discrimination, lack of institutional support and the racist belief that these men lacked the intelligence and aptitude for the job dog their every step. Despite this, the Tuskegee Airmen, as they become known, more than prove their worth.


LOVECRAFT COUNTRY


Based on Matt Ruff's novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he meets up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father (Michael Kenneth Williams). This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback.


THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS


In 1951, cancerous cells from Henrietta Lacks lead to breakthroughs that change the face of medicine forever. Aided by writer Rebecca Skloot, Deborah Lacks embarks on a quest to learn about the mother she never knew.


JUNETEENTH JAMBOREE


The first African slave in Texas arrived in 1528 with a shipwrecked party of Spanish Conquistadors, but it took until the 19th of June in 1865 to bring slavery's end to Texas. It took all of 1865 to end all slavery in the United States. Texas (and much of the U.S.) commemorates Emancipation Day as Juneteenth. This series delves into the history of the holiday and celebrates black culture and art.



MISS EVERS' BOYS


When nurse Eunice Evers (Alfre Woodard) is chosen to facilitate a program intended to curb syphilis rates among African Americans in rural Alabama, she is gratified to be able to serve her community. Over time, however, the study becomes twisted into a shocking human experiment in which patients are systematically denied much-needed medicine. Decades after the fact, Evers is called before a Senate committee to testify as to what really happened during the infamous "Tuskegee Study."



THE BIRTH OF A NATION


Nat Turner is an enslaved Baptist preacher who lives on a Virginia plantation owned by Samuel Turner. With rumors of insurrection in the air, a cleric convinces Samuel that Nate should sermonize to other slaves, thereby quelling any notions of an uprising. As Nate witnesses the horrific treatment of his fellow man, he realizes that he can no longer just stand by and preach. On Aug. 21, 1831, Turner's quest for justice and freedom leads to a violent and historic rebellion in Southampton County.



POWER TO HEAL: MEDICARE AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS REVOLUTION

A documentary chronicling the historic struggle to secure equal and adequate access to healthcare for all Americans. Central to the story is the tale of how a new national program, Medicare, was used to mount a dramatic, coordinated effort that racially desegregated thousands of hospitals across the country, all in a matter of months in 1966.



TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also finds unexpected kindness from another, as he struggles continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changes Solomon's life forever.


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