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30 Best Juneteenth Movies To Watch and Celebrate

Here are the 30 best Juneteenth movies to educate and celebrate this important holiday that marks true freedom for all in the United States.

Juneteenth is the nationally holiday and celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. Generally, it is observed on June 19th each year.

Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day. It is when news of the emancipation proclamation reached Galveston, TX. Juneteenth is a day of celebration and one that represents the freedom of Black people in the United States.

The holiday is celebrated in various communities across the United States with parades, parties, cookouts, community picnics, historical reenactments, and other cultural activities.

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best juneteenth movies

The 30 Best Juneteenth Movies To Watch in 2023

With Juneteenth quickly approaching, here are some movies to watch that celebrate the holiday and celebrate black excellence:

1. `The Loving Story` (2011):

This documentary chronicles the landmark civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, which was decided by the Supreme Court in 1967. The case resulted in the overturning of laws that banned interracial marriage.

The film follows Mildred and Richard Loving’s journey to gain legal recognition for their marriage. It details events in the wake of their arrest and subsequent exile from Virginia.

2. `Freedom Riders` (2011):

This documentary tells the story of a group of black and white Americans who chose to challenge segregation in the Deep South by riding interstate buses together.

Despite facing violence, imprisonment, and abuse, these brave individuals persevered in their fight for justice in the face of adversity.

3. `The Rape of Recy Taylor` (2017):

This documentary tells the powerful story of Recy Taylor. She was a 24-year-old black woman who was abducted and raped by six white men in 1944 Alabama.

Despite facing intimidation from her attackers and the local law enforcement, Taylor bravely spoke out about her experience and demanded justice.

4. `13th` (2020):

This documentary examines the legacy of racial inequality in the United States, from slavery to the present day.

Through interviews with scholars and activists, director Ava DuVernay paints a powerful picture of systemic racism and its impact on generations of African Americans.

5. `Lift Every Voice` (2020):

This uplifting documentary chronicles how the African American experience has been shaped by both tragedy and resilience.

Through interviews with activists, scholars, and everyday people, this film highlights the importance of Juneteenth in our nation’s history as well as its potential to unite us in a shared struggle for justice.

6. `Let the Fire Burn` (2013):

This acclaimed documentary examines one of the darkest days in Philadelphia’s history; The tragic confrontation between the city’s police force and members of a radical black liberation group known as MOVE.

The film is an unflinching look at how unchecked power can lead to tragedy.

7. `Free Angela and All Political Prisoners` (2012):

This biographical documentary tells the story of the woman who became a symbol of black liberation: Angela Davis.

After being arrested for her involvement with the Soledad Brothers’ murder case, Davis was charged with conspiracy and kidnapping. Only to be acquitted after an international campaign of solidarity.

8. `The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975` (2011):

This award-winning documentary uses rare archival footage to tell the story of the civil rights of the black community.

It tells of the black power movements in America during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The film examines how these landmark events shaped our understanding of race and power in the United States today.

9. `The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution` (2015):

This documentary examines the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party.

They are a revolutionary African American group that emerged during the civil rights movement to challenge racial injustice in America.

This powerful film sheds light on an influential moment in our nation’s history.

10. `Eyes on the Prize` (1987):

This 14-part documentary series examines the civil rights movement from its beginnings in 1954 to 1985, when a new generation of activists began to challenge institutional racism.

Featuring interviews with key figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this series is essential viewing for anyone interested in the history of Juneteenth.  

11. ‘Miss Juneteenth’ (2020):

This drama follows a former beauty queen and single mother named Turquoise, who is struggling to navigate the demands of her job in Fort Worth Texas.

When she enters her rebellious teenage daughter into the local Miss Juneteenth pageant, Turquoise must confront painful memories from her past while striving for a brighter future.     

12. `Harriet` (2019):

This powerful biopic chronicles the life of Harriet Tubman. She is one of America’s greatest heroes and a key figure in the struggle for emancipation.

The film follows her incredible journey to freedom and includes her daring raids on Confederate plantations during the Civil War.  

13. `In The Heat of the Night` (1967):

This classic drama stars Sidney Poitier as a black police detective from Philadelphia who is tasked with solving a murder in a small, racially charged Southern town.

The film won an Academy Award for Best Picture and has since become an iconic example of race relations in America.  

14. `Selma` (2015):

This biopic chronicles the incredible story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, a pivotal moment in the fight for civil rights.

Through powerful performances and stunning cinematography, this film captures the spirit of one of America’s most iconic civil rights leaders.  

15. `Malcolm X` (1992):

This biopic tells the story of one of America’s greatest civil rights activists, from his early life in Detroit to his conversion to Islam and eventual assassination in 1965.

Denzel Washington stars as Malcolm X and delivers an electrifying performance that has since become the benchmark for portrayals of this important figure in history.    

16. `The Butler` (2013):

This biopic tells the story of Cecil Gaines, an African American butler who serves eight U.S. presidents over three tumultuous decades of civil rights history.

The film stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey in Academy Award-nominated performances, and features an all-star cast that includes Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, and Mariah Carey.    

17. `Birth of a Nation` (1915):

This classic silent film tells the story of Nat Turner’s rebellion against slave owners in the antebellum South.

Although it was immensely popular at the time of its release, this film has since been criticized for glorifying white supremacy and racism.    

18. `Do The Right Thing` (1989):

This classic movie by director Spike Lee follows a day in the life of an African American community in Brooklyn, New York.

The film is a powerful examination of racism and its effects on individuals and communities, and it won numerous awards upon its release including two Academy Award nominations.    

19. `Fruitvale Station` (2013):

This acclaimed drama tells the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black man who was fatally shot by police in Oakland, California.

The film stars Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer in powerful performances that garnered several award nominations.    

20. `The Help’ (2011):

The Help is an American drama film based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name.

The story follows a young white woman and her African American maids who work in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1960s civil rights era.

21. `I Am Not Your Negro` (2016):

This award-winning documentary uses James Baldwin’s personal writings to paint an urgent portrait of race relations in America.

Through archival footage and interviews, the film explores how racial injustice continues to shape our society today.    

22. `Whose Streets?` (2017):

This powerful documentary chronicles the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of Michael Brown in 2014.

The film follows members of the community as they organize and fight for justice, and gives voice to those who are often forgotten by mainstream media.    

23. `The Hate U Give` (2018):

This drama tells the story of Starr Carter, a young African American girl living in a predominantly white neighborhood.

When she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by police, Starr’s world is turned upside down as she struggles to her voice and stand up for what is right.    

24. `The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ (1974):

This made-for-television movie tells the story of Miss Jane Pittman, a former slave who witnessed some of the most pivotal moments in African American history.

Starring legendary actress Cicely Tyson, this powerful film serves as a timeless reminder of courage and resilience throughout an era of racial injustice.    

25. ‘The Color Purple’ (1986):

This classic drama, based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, follows Celie, an African American woman living in rural Georgia.

Through her struggles to find love and acceptance in a world filled with racism and sexism, Celie discovers strength and resilience within herself.  

26. ‘A Ballerina’s Tale’ (2015):

This documentary chronicles the inspiring story of Misty Copeland, who became the first African American female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

Through her incredible journey, this film shows how Misty’s determination to succeed against all odds can serve as an inspiration to us all.  

27. ‘The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson’ (2017):

This documentary tells the story of Marsha P. Johnson, a pioneering transgender activist and leading figure in the LGBTQ rights movement.

Through archival footage and interviews, this film celebrates her legacy and shows how her courage paved the way for future generations.  

28. ‘Crip Camp’ (2020):

This documentary chronicles the story of disabled activists who attended a summer camp in upstate New York during the 1970s.

Through their experiences, this film shows how disability rights activism was born and has continued to grow in strength over the years.  

29. ‘Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You’ (2018):

This dark comedy follows Cassius Green, an African American telemarketer who discovers a magical power that enables him to ascend the ranks of his company.

Through its satirical take on capitalism and race in America, this film offers an unflinching look at injustice and inequality.    

30. ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (2018):

This romantic drama tells the story of a young couple torn apart by racism and injustice.

Based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, this film is a powerful exploration of love, family, and resilience in the face of adversity.    

Closing Thoughts on The Best Juneteenth Movies To Watch in 2023

These movies are essential viewing to gain a deeper understanding of the history and legacy of Juneteenth.

These movies are educational in terms of learning the history of this country and the important of Juneteenth as a day to celebrate. Like with Black History Month, Juneteenth is a time a time we can all respectfully learn more about the history of our country and black culture. It is our responsibility as citizens to make sure we do this all year round.

They provide insight into how far African Americans have come and how much further we need to go in our quest for justice and equality.

Watching these films can help us remember why this day is so important, as well as inspire us to keep fighting the good fight.

Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, and these movies are reminders that we must continue to fight for it until everyone has access to the same rights and protections. Let’s use Juneteenth as an opportunity to reflect on our past, honor those who have been marginalized, and create a better future for us all.