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The Best Movies About Black History 

Ranker Film
Updated March 6, 2020 274 votes 56 voters 5.8k views 39 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.

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1
Glory is listed (or ranked) 1 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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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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#145 of 629 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #169 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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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#162 of 200 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #81 of 310 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #20 of 43 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Stories

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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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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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#160 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #50 of 360 The Best Movies Based On Books #4 of 629 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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#176 of 299 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #64 of 629 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #244 of 554 The Best '70s Movies

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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

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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
19
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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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OCD Man added Oprah Winfrey, Common, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 2014

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and ...more

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#527 of 629 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #10 of 43 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Released: 1987

Directed by: Henry Hampton

Eyes on the Prize is an American television series and 14-hour documentary about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The documentary originally aired on the PBS network and also ...more
22
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Ra'Jon' Goolsby added Jon Voight, Don Cheadle, Ving Rhames

Released: 1997

Directed by: John Singleton

Rosewood is a 1997 film directed by John Singleton. While based on historic events of the 1923 in Florida, when a white mob takes out blacks and destroyed their town, the film introduces ...more

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Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, Michael Ealy

Released: 2005

Directed by: Darnell Martin

Their Eyes Were Watching God is an American Broadcasting Company television movie aired on March 6, 2005 at 9 p.m. EDT based upon Zora Neale Hurston's 1937 novel of the same name. The film was ...more

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Ra'Jon' Goolsby added Christopher Lee
Shaka Zulu is a television series directed by William C. Faure and written by Joshua Sinclair for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, based on Sinclair's novel of the same name. It is ...more

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#230 of 629 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #47 of 171 The Best Miniseries in TV History

25
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James Earl Jones, Charlie Korsmo, David Strathairn

Released: 1990

Directed by: Kevin Hooks

Heat Wave is a film directed by Kevin Hooks released on August 13, 1990.