BLACK VOICES
02/02/2018 05:45 EST | Updated 02/05/2018 13:31 EST

31 Glorious Shows and Movies To Watch This Black History Month

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This Black History Month, we honor black glory in all forms. Our witty sitcoms, heartbreaking movies and striking documentaries deserve to be recognized.

Maybe that means binging on all six seasons of “Living Single” and following it up by watching Mary J. Blige give her Oscar-worthy performance in “Mudbound.” Or perhaps it’s weighing in on the Team Issa versus Team Lawrence debate for the fifteenth time.

Any way you choose to celebrate, this list is a great starting point. These 31 shows and movies don’t just feature black actors, they also center nuanced representations of blackness. Here’s to a glorious Black History Month

  • 1 "Mudbound"
    In the post-World War II Jim Crow South, two families, one black and one white, struggle to keep their farms and lives intact in rural Mississippi. Featuring Mary J. Blige, directed and written by black creatives and nominated for four Oscars (including Best Picture), this movie is more than worthy of your Black History Month binge list. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 2 "I Am Not Your Negro"
    In 1979, James Baldwin began writing "Remember This House," a radical account of the lives and assassinations of three men he was quite close to: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. However, Baldwin had only written 30 pages of the manuscript before passing away in 1987. This documentary, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, imagines what could have come of this never-finished book. 

    Watch on Amazon Prime.
  • 3 "Queen of Katwe"
    This true story follows the struggles of Phiona, a Ugandan girl whose life radically changes after she learns to play chess. In true Disney fashion, it ends happily ever after, but it also takes time to examine the nuances of poverty, racism and privilege. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 4 "Fruitvale Station"
    Michael B. Jordan stars in this chilling true story about Oscar Grant III, an unarmed black man who is fatally shot by police when coming home on New Year's Eve. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film details Grant's last living day in a series of flashbacks. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 5 "The Incredible Jessica James"
    "Two Dope Queens" comedian Jessica Williams wrote and starred in this indie film about an aspiring playwright living in New York. Rebounding from a breakup, she meets Boone, who is also recovering from a split. Together, they navigate the aftermath of failed relationships in a familiar rom-com plot.

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 6 "Dear White People"
    Based on the 2014 movie of the same name, this Netflix original chronicles how students of color navigate race and racism at an Ivy League school. The first season has a 100-percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Netflix has officially renewed it for a second season. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 7 "She's Gotta Have It"
    This series reprisal of the 1986 Spike Lee classic explores the love life of Nola, a woman who can't decide which man is best for her. The solution? Date all three at once. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 8 "How to Get Away With Murder"
    The Shondaland, TGIT classic is streaming most everywhere. The show follows Annalise Keating, a lawyer and professor who, along with her morally questionable students, takes on cases and learns how to get away with murder, literally.

    Watch on Netflix and Hulu.
  • 9 "Cool Runnings"
    This '90s movie about a Jamaican bobsled team on its journey to the Winter Olympics is a classic. When a runner fails to qualify for the Olympic track team, he sets out to create his country's first bobsled crew and, despite never seeing snow, makes it to the Winter Games.

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 10 "Celia"
    This biopic explores the life of Afro-Latina salsa queen Celia Cruz. Set in 1950s Cuba, it follows Celia all the way from her beginnings to her rise to fame in 80 episodes of telenovela drama.

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 11 "Being Mary Jane"
    Like "Girlfriends" and "The Game," this Mara Brock Akil show depicts a nuanced representation of black womanhood. Set first in Atlanta and later New York, the program follows the love life and career of Mary Jane (played by Gabrielle Union), a broadcast anchor with ambition to feed and flaws to overcome. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 12 "Living Single"
    Before "Friends" and "Sex and the City," this sitcom followed the lives of four black women (and their upstairs roommates) living in '90s Brooklyn. Starring Queen Latifah and an ensemble cast of black actors, the show ran for six seasons and showed black professional life as it hadn't been seen before.

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 13 "What Happened, Miss Simone?"
    This documentary examines "High Priestess of Soul" Nina Simone's life and iconic career. Using archival footage and interviews with those who best knew her, this film did what "Nina" (the controversial biopic that included near-blackface prosthetics) could not. It's a dignified celebration of Simone's success.

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 14 "Chewing Gum"
    British sitcoms focusing solely on black women rarely get made and are even less likely to make it to mainstream audiences. This show accomplished both. Two seasons (with a third on the way) follow Tracey, a 24-year-old awkward black girl simply looking to find love under the close supervision of her West African, and increasingly Christian, family. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 15 "Luke Cage"
    This "Black Panther" season, we also celebrate another iconic black superhero. Luke Cage is literally indestructible and is constantly trying to live an unassuming life in Harlem. Instead, he's pulled into a battle for his neighborhood while also confronting his past and the sordid experiment that gave him his powers. 

    Watch on Netflix.
  • 16 "Scandal"
    Another member of the TGIT crew doing the drama category well. Over the course of seven seasons, Olivia Pope and her warriors fix every form of government scandal out there while trying to keep their own lives intact. 

    Watch on Netflix and Hulu.
  • 17 "Roots" (2016)
    This remake of the 1977 miniseries based on Alex Haley's novel of the same name brings the story of Kunta Kinte to a new generation, while keeping the same themes and messages of the original classic. 

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 18 "Serena"
    Serena Williams narrates this documentary about her life as an athlete, designer and businesswoman. 

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 19 "Fences"
    This Oscar-winning film details the struggles of Troy Maxson, a man who's never dealt with his deferred dreams and has issues letting that not affect his family. Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, the movie and its all-star cast explores black life and struggles.  

    Watch on Hulu and Amazon Prime.
  • 20 "Creed"
    Michael B. Jordan steps into the Rocky canon with this movie about the son of a famous boxer who's looking to claim a bit of boxing notoriety himself. 

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 21 "Underground"
    "Underground" takes viewers back to slave-era America to follow a group of Georgia slaves on their fight to escape via the Underground Railroad. John Legend, who also served as executive producer, provides the score.

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 22 "Black-ish"
    This sitcom lives up to its name as an undeniably black show. The classic-in-the-making centers around Andre Johnson and his family, who live in a white suburb of Los Angeles. Watch as one house and three generations of blackness navigate questions of identity and degrees of cultural assimilation.

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 23 "Grown-ish"
    Yara Shahidi of "Black-ish" fame leads in her spinoff about Zoe, the Johnson's oldest daughter, in her first year in college. She might be a short ride away from home, but is definitely on her own and making her way through the instability of pre-adulthood. The show both premiered and was renewed for a second season in January 2018.

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 24 "Atlanta"
    Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino and Troy Barnes on "Community") writes and stars in this dark comedy sitcom about a man who's just trying to make it as his rapper cousin's manager in Atlanta. The show is both real and refreshing, with a mix of characters portraying nuanced blackness. And the second season is coming March 2018.

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 25 "Insecure"
    Awkward black girl Issa Rae writes and stars in this homage to the millennial black girl just trying to figure it out. Set in LA, Issa and her best friend Molly (played by Yvonne Orji) battle through ridiculous dating situations, the issues of working while black and the general confusion of adulthood. The show is blatantly black and returns this summer for a third season. 

    Watch on Hulu (with the HBO add-on).
  • 26 "Queen Sugar"
    Ava DuVernay created and directs this contemporary drama about the estranged Bordelon siblings. After suffering a family tragedy, the siblings must find their way back to each other to run the family sugar cane farm in Saint Josephine, Louisiana. The show just wrapped up its second season and OWN has renewed it for a third. 

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 27 "The Chi"
    This show is a Lena Waithe-spun tale about a group of kids coming of age in the South Side of Chicago. Also executive produced by Common, the drama follows four young black boys trying to find their way. It premiered in January 2018 and has already been renewed for a second season. 

    Watch on Hulu and Amazon Prime (both with the SHOWTIME add-on).
  • 28 "Empire"
    As CEO of Empire Entertainment, Lucious Lyon, leads his family in both drama and music in this production about hip-hop's royal family. But his reign as patriarch is challenged when his ex, Cookie, returns from prison demanding a piece of the throne she helped build. The saga is in its fourth season and is still one of the highest-rated dramas on Fox. 

    Watch on Hulu.
  • 29 "Moonlight"
    Three chapters of childhood, adolescence and adulthood tell the story of Chiron, a black boy from Miami who, through the support of his community, comes of age and finds truth in his queer identity. As the 2017 Oscar winner for Best Picture, this film became the first LGBTQ movie to take the category. 

    Watch on Amazon Prime.
  • 30 "The Wire"
    Set in Baltimore, this crime drama examines the narcotics world through the eyes of dealers, users and the law enforcement agents tracking them. The show ran for six years and was a large success. There was even a law school criminal justice course based on the series.

    Watch on Amazon Prime.
  • 31 "A Different World"
    A spinoff of "The Cosby Show," this black sitcom classic focuses on a group of black students attending Hillman, an HBCU set in the DMV area. Over six seasons, Whitley and Dwayne become the couple everyone looks up to, Freddy embodies the hippie black girl aesthetic that never fades, and Kim becomes the simultaneously carefree and overachieving student we all aspired to be. Directed by Debbie Allen, this show is the perfect way to binge through Black History Month. 

    Watch on Amazon Prime.