We hope to always take part in the ongoing quest for greater human decency. And with Black History Month in full force, it’s a great time to enlighten ourselves about Black culture and history. So if you’re not sure where to start, we’re coming at you with exceptional movies + books that deal with the subjects of racial prejudice and civil rights. Hollywood and literature don’t always get history right, but you and your family can celebrate Black History Month by checking out these movies + books that depict the lives of Black heroes.
We want to hear from you! In the comments below share your book + movie recommendations, to help us celebrate Black History month!
To Kill a Mockingbird
Based on Harper Lee’s novel of the same name, this timeless movie is narrated by a little girl named Scout. Her father, Atticus Finch, defends a black man, Tom Robinson, after he’s accused of attacking a white girl. The accusation and trial turn the Finch’s small town upside down. This movie offers valuable lessons about prejudice, handling confrontation, and having compassion.
Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures depicts the story of three brilliant African-American women who served as human computers within NASA and made vital contributions to the launch of John Glenn into orbit. In this movie, the visionary trio cross all gender and racial lines of their time to inspire generations.
This emotionally provoking movie follows a young college graduate who writes a collection of stories from the point of view of the African American maids in her hometown. Starring Viola Davis, Ocatavia Spencer, and Emma Stone, this story teaches about segregation, the importance of racial equality, and how those who experience oppression have valuable stories to tell.
Remember the Titans
Watch this inspiring true story of a new African-American high school football coach in a newly integrated school. The Titans struggle to get along and play as a team, divided by racial tensions and the segregation in their town. This movie is deeply moving and offers important lessons about courage of individuals and the power of uniting together to celebrate differences.
This incredible drama is all about Martin Luther King, Jr’s fight for equal rights. Although not 100% historically accurate, this film speaks truth about the social-historical context, events, and relationships between movement activists, white citizens, and the U.S. government. David Oyelowo offers an inspirational performance about the life and death of Martin Luther King Jr and reminds us how much we still have to do to ensure equal human rights.
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
Your minis will love learning about how this smart little lady saved the world - well, sort of. This children’s book tells the story of Black mathematician Katherine Johnson, who worked for NASA during the space race. If your little ones aren’t old enough to watch Hidden Figures, this would be a great place to start.
Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House
In this darling children’s book, Melody gets to visit Aunt Connie’s house to swim, eat, and meet her new cousin. While she’s there, Melody investigates twelve paintings of famous African-American women, including Rosa Parks, Zora Neale Houston, and Mary McLeod Bethune. You and your little ones will love learning about these influential and historical women.
A Voice Named Aretha
This beautiful picture book introduces kids to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The story follows the life of Aretha as she overcomes shyness as a kid and eventually earns a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T on her way to becoming a legend. You and your minis will love learning about Aretha’s talent and perseverance that made her a star.
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and on his way to Ivy League schools until a police officer puts him in handcuffs. Finding that he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or new classmates, Justyce looks to the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. for direction. This story is a great read for you and your tweens that tackles American race relations and helps it’s readers take on a new perspective.
After being shot by a police officer, who mistook a toy gun for a real threat, 12-year-old Jerome observes devastation as a ghost. Jerome even meets another ghost named Emmett, who lived in a different time but similar circumstances. In this story, readers navigate historical and socio-political lessons and learn about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world. You and your tweens will join Jerome as he grows to understand American Blackness in the aftermath of his own death.
Although not all of them are historically accurate, we hope you enjoy celebrating diversity with these incredible movies + books! Have you seen or read any of our recommendations before? If not, now’s a great time to give them a shot and honor the accomplishments of black Americans throughout our history. Hopefully with our list, you and your family can find ways to celebrate Black History month in a way that is meaningful for you. What other movies and books would you add to our list? Comment your recommendations below!
Kortni Jeane + Team