Entertainment

The Best Movies About Black History 

Ranker Film
Updated October 13, 2018 268 votes 54 voters 5.7k views 38 items

List Rules Movies about black history.

Black history is extremely important in the United States. There are a number of award winning movies about black history that will remind us of where we came from, the dangers of prejudice, and how our nation was once divided over racial issues.. If you’ve ever asked the question, “What are the best movies about black history?” before then you’ve absolutely come to the right page!

The movies featured on this list are very historically important. They take an honest approach to a lot of issues that went on behind the scenes in history and shed light on the role racism played in America. Many also feature the true events of heroes who forever impacted the world and took a stand to fight against slavery, no matter the cost.

This list has the best movies about black history, including: Roots, Glory, Twelve Years a Slave, The Butler, A Raisin in the Sun, The Rosa Parks Story, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple.

Vote up your favorite black history film or add one you love that isn't already on the list.
list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Louis Gossett, Jr., LeVar Burton

Released: 1977

This award-winning six-part historical epic was one of the first examples of the miniseries format and one of the highest-rated television programs in broadcasting history. Based on the ...more

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#202 of 260 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #52 of 271 The Best '70s TV Shows

2
Ranker Video
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch

Released: 2013

Directed by: Steve McQueen

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free ...more

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#22 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #78 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Glory is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About Black History
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick

Released: 1989

Directed by: Edward Zwick

Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more

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#554 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #74 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Ranker Video
Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr.

Released: 1961

Directed by: Daniel Petrie

A Raisin in the Sun is a 1961 drama film, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Roy Glenn, and Louis Gossett, and adapted from the play of the same name by Lorraine ...more

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#68 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #28 of 45 The 25+ Best Movies for Black Women

5
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Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne

Released: 1985

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

The Color Purple is a 1985 American period drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker. It was Spielberg's eighth film as ...more

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#15 of 33 The Best Steven Spielberg Movies #6 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #127 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

6
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Mariah Carey, Robin Williams, Oprah Winfrey

Released: 2013

Directed by: Lee Daniels

The Butler is a 2013 American historical drama film directed and produced by Lee Daniels and written by Danny Strong. Loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, the film stars Forest ...more

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#476 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #139 of 719 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #7 of 39 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Stories

7
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Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela

Released: 1992

Directed by: Spike Lee

Malcolm X is a 1992 American biographical drama film about the African-American activist Malcolm X. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee. The film dramatizes key events in Malcolm X's life: his ...more

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#2 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #97 of 236 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #2 of 27 The Greatest African American Biopics

8
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Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck, William Windom

Released: 1962

Directed by: Robert Mulligan

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ...more

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#4 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Quotes That'll Change How You Thinklisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Ranker Video

Released: 1997

Directed by: Spike Lee

4 Little Girls is a 1997 American historical documentary film about the 15 September 1963 murder of four African-American girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, ...more

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#122 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #529 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

10
Ranker Video

Released: 1972

Directed by: Martin Ritt

Sounder is a young adult novel by William H. Armstrong. It is the story of an African-American boy living with his sharecropper family. Although the family's difficulties increase when the ...more

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#467 of 1,302 The Best Novels Ever Written #522 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #229 of 317 The Best Movies for Kids

11
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Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Anna Paquin

Released: 1997

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Amistad is a 1997 historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the true story of the 1839 mutiny aboard the slave ship La Amistad, during which Mende tribesmen taken and managed ...more

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#22 of 33 The Best Steven Spielberg Movies #535 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #50 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

12
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Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington

Released: 2000

Directed by: Boaz Yakin

Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Boaz Yakin. The screenplay, written by Gregory Allen Howard, is based on the true story of ...more

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#810 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #358 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #74 of 125 Movies That Should Never Be Remade

13
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Denzel Washington, Patti LaBelle, David Alan Grier

Released: 1984

Directed by: Norman Jewison

A Soldier's Story is a 1984 American drama film directed by Norman Jewison, based upon Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning Off Broadway production A Soldier's Play. A black officer is sent ...more

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#94 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #35 of 50 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the '80s

14
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Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

Released: 2001

Directed by: Michael Mann

Ali is a 2001 American biographical film directed by Michael Mann. The film tells the story of the boxer Muhammad Ali, played by Will Smith, from 1964-74 featuring his capture of the heavyweight ...more

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#96 of 236 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #10 of 27 The Greatest African American Biopics

15
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Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Lee Grant

Released: 1967

Directed by: Norman Jewison

In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 American mystery drama film directed by Norman Jewison. It is based on John Ball's 1965 novel of the same name which tells the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black ...more

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#1,170 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #202 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
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Cicely Tyson, Katherine Helmond, Odetta

Released: 1973

Directed by: John Korty

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is a 1974 television movie directed by John Korty, based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines. Story of a black woman in the South who was born into slavery in ...more
17
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James Earl Jones, Hal Holbrook, Jane Alexander

Released: 1970

Directed by: Martin Ritt

The Great White Hope is a 1970 biographical romantic drama film written and adapted from the Howard Sackler play of the same name. The film was directed by Martin Ritt, starring James Earl ...more
18
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Daniela Ruah, Bryan Cranston, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 2012

Directed by: Anthony Hemingway

Red Tails is a 2012 American film directed by Anthony Hemingway in his feature film directorial debut, and starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. The film is about the Tuskegee Airmen, a ...more

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#169 of 379 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #162 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #87 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

19
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Garrett Morris, Glynn Turman, Steven Williams

Released: 1975

Directed by: Michael Schultz

Cooley High is a 1975 American film based upon the real high school located on the near north side of Chicago, produced and released by American International Pictures and written by Eric Monte. ...more

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#109 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #267 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #65 of 96 The Best Hood Movies

20
Django Unchained is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About Black History
Tom Islava added Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson

Released: 2012

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Django Unchained is a 2012 American revisionist Western film directed by Quentin Tarantino. With the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) sets out to ...more

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#63 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #515 of 1,009 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

21
Straight Outta Compton ... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About Black History
Tom Islava added O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell

Released: 2015

Directed by: F. Gary Gray

Straight Outta Compton is a 2015 American biographical film directed by F. Gary Gray. The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and ...more

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#79 of 205 The Best Movies About Music #154 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

22
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Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, Spike Lee

Released: 1989

Directed by: Spike Lee

Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama hood film produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee, who also played the part of Mookie in the film. Other members of the cast include Danny ...more

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#9 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #140 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Movies Set in Brooklyn

23
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Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy

Released: 1967

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Stanley Kramer and written by William Rose. It stars Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine ...more

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#790 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #79 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Starslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
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Charlize Theron, Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 2000

Directed by: George Tillman, Jr.

Men of Honor is a 2000 drama film, starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. The film was directed by George Tillman, Jr. It is inspired by the true story of Master chief petty officer Carl ...more

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#1,177 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #195 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

25
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Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Hank Jones

Released: 1994

Directed by: Jean Bach

A Great Day in Harlem is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Jean Bach about the photograph of the same name. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. ...more