Teach Black History at home with Amazon and NetFLix

Posted on Posted in Blog, Color Me Educated, History/Social Studies

Teach Black History at home with Amazon and NetFLix


All Black people know Black history, right? There is a strange assumption that just because someone is Black, they must be an expert on Black history. Ehhh, not quite.  Last week three White contestants were called out for seemingly avoiding the African American history category on Jeopardy.

But I’m going to take a guess and say that the same Eurocentric history classes White students sit-in, Black students are right there alongside.  In 2005 Philadelphia schools required all students take Black history. Some schools may offer a Black History course as an elective, but most schools do not at all.  This means learning Black History is often left up to parents. If you feel like it’s important for your child to understand Black history, but are a little fuzzy on the who, what, when and where… try a few movie and book suggestions below to refresh your memory or just to get the conversation started with the kids, tweens and teens. 


Pre-Slavery :

I tried to find movies that depict life in Africa before the “Great Kidnapping” began. Many students don’t know that there was a well-established life in Africa before the beginning of colonialism and the Middle PassageEmpires of Mali, Songhai and Ghana are often never mentioned or if they are it is more like a footnote.  But, there is the movie and book about Shaka Zulu.  Not perfect, but it can shed light on life in Africa and the relationships Africans had with Europeans. 



Shaka Zulu (Movie)
A historical account on the life of the Zulu king Shaka.
Tweens and Teens 
Shaka Zulu (Book)
Tweens and Teens



Slavery :

Okay, I know that you are tired of the slave movies. But the beginning of Roots is good for depicting  life in Africa before slavery.  Roots and Amistad can also shed light on the horrific Middle Passage. I know when I taught social studies not all teachers went into detail about how bad such events were.   
Roots (Movie)

A dramatization of author Alex Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation.


Roots (Book)

Tweens and Teens



12 Years a Slave (Movie) 

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

12 Years a Slave (Book)

Tweens and Teens


Amistad also adds a new perspective to slavery, letting your child understand that there were Africans who did fight back.
Amistad (Movie)

A 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story involves a court-room drama about the free man who led the revolt.
Amistad (Book)


Tweens and Teens


Civil War:


About the courageous 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit of the US Army to be made up entirely of African American men, is one that definitely should be heard.


War World II:



The life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers
Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season

Tweens and Teens


Miracle at St. Anna (Movie)

Set in 1944 Italy, the story of four black American soldiers who get trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII.
Miracle at St. Anna (Book)

Tweens and Teens




Red Tails (Movie)

A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty.

 Red Tails (Book)

Ages 9 and up



Walking Dead

In 1972 Vietnam, a group of United States Marines are sent in to rescue several POW officers.



Civil Rights Movement:


Mississippi Burning (Movie)

Loosely based on the FBI investigation into the real-life murders of three civil rights workers in the U.S. state of Mississippi in 1964.
Tweens and Teens


Mississippi Burning (Book)


The Watsons Go to Birmingham (Movie)

The Watsons set out on a family road trip where their experiences give them a newfound courage to stand up for what is right and helps them grow stronger as a family in the process.


 The Watsons Go to Birmingham (Book)

Quite impossible to either read or watch all by the end of the month.  No worries, fortunately you can make Black History a 365 thing.  I know we do. Enjoy!

Suggestions while watching and/or reading:

  1. Ask your child to look up selected figures to learn more about them
  2. Ask to look up the actual event.  What parts were left out or embellished?

Missing from this collection – Movies about:

War World One
American Revolution

Any suggestions for this list?




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