Informational Movies you Should Watch Now

Educating yourself and others has never been easier. Documentary or documentary-style movies are a great way to learn. Streaming platforms across the board feature historical Black films- here are a few that are worth the watch.

February 25, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah: HBO Max and in theaters

The newly released film shows the timeline of when Bill (Judas) enters the lives of Fred Hampton and the rest of the Black Panther Party Chapter of Chicago. Bill sneaks his way in as an informant, used deviously by the FBI in return for serving no prison time. The timeline, set at the end of the 60s, shows relevant present-day problems which Black Americans continue to face in an unjust system and an unjust country. The police brutality and police treatment stay gruesome and the murdering of uprising Black leftist activists and leaders stays true. Fred Hampton was kind. He wanted the best for everyone; all of Chicago. He formed a coalition among the poor. He was charismatic and able to reach others in ways that seem impossible. Fred Hampton was young. He would have made big changes in the world, but the FBI and Chicago Police murdered him before he could do it. 

Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution: Watch for free on Amazon Prime 

Film from PBS

It is essential that we deconstruct our minds, educating ourselves where our school education has failed us. The Black Panther Party has often been demonized in American history, failing to credit the greatness the party accomplished, such as the free breakfast program. The film shared an overview history of the party, featuring real member accounts and interviews, as well as interviews with the enemies- police, FBI, and FBI informants. The party was short-lived due to the U.S.’s police state and their obsession with destroying a means for a better world. 

13th: Watch on Netflix

“The U.S. has five percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.” Titled after the Thirteenth Amendment- which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in the U.S. except as punishment of convicted criminals, the film explores one of the largest racist systems in the U.S. The film shows the expansion of the prison industrial complex over the years as well as the growth in imprisoned peoples- particularly targeting Black men. 

Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy: Watch on Netflix

Exposes Ronald Reagan and his administration’s heavy involvement in the war on drugs and what lengths they went to tear apart Black communities. Starting with cutting government assistance programs, the Reagan Administration left Black Americans to struggle and suffer while White Americans got richer. Reagan supplied Central America with resources to fight communism, and in return, the U.S. government smuggled cocaine into the U.S. so rich White capitalists could snort it. All while distributing and criminalizing crack cocaine.

Grass is Greener: Watch on Netflix

Walks through decades of long use of weed through the music industry among Black artists. Starting in the 1920s jazz era, artists such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday began mixing weed and music while targeted under racist policies. 

Points out the unequal treatment Black people have faced and continue to face when it comes to weed and modern weed distribution. 

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson: Watch on Netflix

A Black trans woman is why we have any sort of gay rights in this country and Marsha P. Johnson led that fight. The movie shows the great lengths Johnson, as well as Sylvia Rivera, went to fight for equality for the LGBTQ community. It features Stonewall and the impact both women had on the historic riot. The film centers on activist Victoria Cruz’s mission to investigate Johnson’s death, which was ruled a suicide by police, despite suspicious circumstances. In the grand scheme of things, the film assesses the murder of trans people in the U.S., especially Black trans women and other trans women of color. 

The Trail of the Chicago 7: Watch on Netflix

Although the film centers mostly on non-Black characters, it introduces viewers to the Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale and Chicago Chairman Fred Hampton. Seale shortly made it the Trail of the Chicago 8. He was placed with the other seven men to make them appear “scary” and “more threatening.” He was the only one of the eight who was not out on bond for the trial and forced to remain in jail. Seale was denied the right to represent himself. Seale was made an example of a racist system. And when he spoke out against it, he was beaten and gagged. 

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