10 movies to watch on Amazon Prime for Black History Month

These should be mandatory viewing.

Mar 25, 2020, 12:53 pm*



Austin Powell


In honor of Black History Month, Amazon Prime has collected the best movies and series on the service that examine and celebrate Black culture. You’ll find the full list below, but we’ve slimmed it down to highlight the must-see movies and documentaries—including a couple that Amazon appeared to overlook. While there’s plenty here to entertain and inform, it’s also clear that the service still needs to invest more in Black entertainment; there’s room for so much more drama, comedy, and classic movies. That said, Amazon also provided a list of acclaimed movies, led by Black actors and directors, that are available for rent or purchase. It should tide you over in the meantime.

The best Black movies on Amazon Prime

1) Moonlight

Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture-winning film tells the story of Chiron in three parts as he grows up and comes to terms with his sexuality and learning to be comfortable in his own skin. Chiron may be black and gay, and the movie’s focus may be narrow, but its themes are universal. There are moments so empathetic that I’m welling up a little just thinking about it. The cast is remarkable, from the three actors who play Chiron to Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. Its status as one of the lowest grossing Best Picture winners means people need to catch up with it. —Eddie Strait

best black movies on amazon prime - moonlight

2) Fences

After a successful run on Broadway, Denzel Washington brings this August Wilson play to the silver screen. Washington directs and stars alongside his stage costar Viola Davis in this 1950s-set drama about a man grappling with the life choices he made and the repercussions they have on his family. It’s a powerful film, and you’ll want to keep tissues nearby. —Eddie Strait

african american movies on amazon prime fences

3) 4 Little Girls 

One Sunday morning in 1963, a bomb tore through a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls. The bomb had been placed by members of the KKK, and their act of terror became a rallying point for the civil rights movement. Spike Lee’s harrowing 1997 documentary follows the investigation of the bombing and the impact it had on the passage of the 1963 Civil Rights Act. 4 Little Girls is a heartbreaking film but one that’s worth watching, now as much as ever. —John-Michael Bond

black documentaries - 4 little girls on amazon prime

4) Pass Over 

Lost in the hype over BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s other major work from 2018 deserves a closer look. Written by Antoinette Nwandu and inspired in part by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for GodotPass Over is a timely, existential drama about two Black men, Moses (Jon Michael Hill) and Kitch (Julian Parker), living on the streets of Chicago, the block of 64th and Martin Luther King Drive to be exact, and dreaming of better days. It’s not easy filming a theater production for the big screen, and the Biblical undertones can be a bit heavy-handed, but Hill and Parker bring an electric intensity to the stage that will move you, even before the police show up. —Austin Powell

black movies on amazon prime

5) I Am Not Your Negro

James Baldwin died in 1987, but the civil rights leaders’ work stands today as some of the most poignant and topical writing on race. I Am Not Your Negro is based on Remember This House, the book Baldwin was writing at the time of his death. Using archival recordings of Baldwin, director Raoul Peck connects the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s to race in America today. It’s a heavy documentary, asking difficult questions about the place of African Americans in the United States’ society. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, I Am Not Your Negro is an artistic and educational triumph. Whether you proudly state “All Lives Matter” on your Facebook or marched after the death of Mike Brown, I Am Not Your Negro should be required viewing for every American. —John-Michael Bond

black history month amazon prime - i am not your negro

6) Precious

Geoffrey Fletcher became the first African-American to win best adapted screenplay at the Oscars for Precious, which is based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Set in Harlem in 1987, Precious tells the heart-rending story of Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), a 16-year-old trapped in Section 8 tenement housing with an abusive mother and facing a second unwanted pregnancy at the hands of her now-absent father. There are just enough glimmers of hope to get you—and Precious herself—through, but it’s a heavy drama with a stellar supporting cast that includes Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz. —Austin Powell

black movies amazon prime precious

7) Hitch

When dating coach Alex Hitchens (Will Smith) takes on a new client, Albert (Kevin James), everything he’s preached in his career is challenged. Hitchens tries to teach Albert the tricks and tips to woo the famous Allegra Cole (Amber Valleta), and it starts to cause issues in his own dating life when his love interest Eva Mendes finds out. The motto of this hilarious rom-com is to just be yourself; it’s more attractive than the cliché status quo. —Audra Schroeder

black comedies on amazon prime - hitch

8) Ken Burns: The Central Park Five

In 1989, five black and Latino, teenagers were arrested and convicted for the rape of a woman in Central Park. The crime itself was horrific, but the story that unfolded about the men’s arrest and innocence stands as a horror of its own. The Central Park Five shows how the media, racism, public outrage, and a police force desperate for an arrest carried out a brutal miscarriage of justice that destroyed five innocent lives. —John-Michael Bond

black movies prime - ken burns central park five

9) Chi-raq

Spike Lee channels the provocateur of his early days with this fire-breathing musical about gang violence in Chicago. It’s based the Greek play Lysistrata by Apostrophe, and it’s set in a world where women withhold sex in an attempt to stop men from their violence. The first Amazon original movie, Chi-raq is not quite on par with Lee’s best, but it’s not far off. Lee is a vital voice, and Chi-raq proves he’s still got it. —Eddie Strait

black movies on amazon prime - chi-raq

10) Prince: Sign O’ the Times

This isn’t technically a documentary, and some of the music was re-recorded after the fact at Paisley Park, but if you want to get an up-close look at Prince, this is the best way to do it. The 1987 concert film captures the artist at arguably his ’80s peak, with an hour-plus performance that leans heavily on his double-album of the same name. Play it loudly. —Austin Powell

black movies on amazon prime - prince sign of the times

List of Black History Month movies on Amazon Prime

Still not sure what to watch on Amazon? Here are the best Amazon originals, the best documentaries on Amazon Prime, what’s new on Amazon, the best 4K movies, thrillers on Amazon Prime, alien movies, and the sexiest movies you can stream right now.  

Looking for something more specific? Here are the best comedies on Amazon Prime when you need a laugh, sad movies to make you cry, kids movies for the whole family, the best thrillers to get your heart racing, and the classic movies on Amazon Prime everyone should see. If that’s not enough, here are the best Amazon Prime channels.

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2019, 6:00 am