Black History Month is a time to celebrate important Black figures, moments that pushed the movement forward, and causes that support and amplify Black voices. And while there’s no shortage of movies or TV shows that depict the struggle -- slavery, the Jim Crow South and other traumas the African American community has gone through -- it's important to shine a light on the many stories of Black joy that celebrate family, friendships, love and the complexity of life.
There's certainly a number of remarkable films, documentaries and series that explore all of that and more -- so consider this a sampling of a few of the very best that are available and ready to stream now.
From classic rom-coms like Brown Sugar to beloved comedies like Girls Trip, dramedies like Insecure (all hail queen Issa Rae) and cultural exploration shows like Pose, ET is celebrating Black History Month with films and television shows that beautifully showcase Black life, love and greatness.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring Will Smith in a critically acclaimed performance, King Richard follows the journey of an instrumental father as he raises and trains two of the world's gifted athletes: Venus and Serena Williams.
One of the biggest cultural phenomena of the 21st century, Black Panther is the first Marvel film with both a predominantly Black cast and director. The late Chadwick Boseman stars as T'Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, who must step forward to lead his people into a new future. Along the way, he must confront a challenger from his country's past. The Oscar-winning film boasts an incredible cast featuring Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker. A sequel is in the works.
This hilarious comedy follows four longtime best friends, aka the Flossy Posse, who take a trip to New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival. Once there, they bust out their old wild ways of drinking, dancing and romancing. You won't be able to stop laughing while watching Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall.
Omar Epps, Taye Diggs and Richard T. Jones star in this coming-of-age tale about three best friends -- Mike, Roland and Slim -- who grew up in Inglewood, California. When Roland goes missing on his wedding day, Mike and Slim struggle to find their friend before the wedding begins, all while sharing stories about the lessons they've learned during their awkward teenage years.
K C Bailey/Fox Searchlight/Kobal/Shutterstock
Two best friends share a love of hip-hop, but are they destined to be together? Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) is a music critic, while her childhood bestie, Dre (Taye Diggs), is a successful music executive. They've supported each other all their lives, but when Sidney gets engaged, they realize they've been in love with each other all this time.
Akeelah and the Bee
Keke Palmer shines as Akeelah, a bright 11-year-old girl from South Los Angeles who is encouraged to compete in the National Spelling Bee competition. Despite her mother's wishes, and with the help of a teacher, Akeelah does what she must to make her dreams come true. Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett co-star.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Starring Andra Day in a Golden Globe-winning performance, The United States vs. Billie Holiday follows singer Billie Holiday at the peak of her career, as she navigated being the target of a growing government effort to racialize the war on drugs.
Director Channing Godfrey Peoples calls Miss Juneteenth "a movie about dreams deferred." The coming-of-age drama follows former Miss Juneteenth beauty queen Turquoise (Nicole Beharie) who, after winning the crown years before, is now a hard-working single mother, guiding her teenage daughter, Kai (Alexis Chikaeze), through the same pageant. Her only hope is to give Kai a better future and life than hers.
Forest Whitaker'S Significant Prods/Revolt/That'S Dope/Kobal/Shutterstock
Three geeky friends -- Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) -- trying to survive in a tough neighborhood go on an unexpected adventure after a chance encounter with drug dealer Dom (A$AP Rocky). When Dom hides drugs in Malcolm’s backpack, they must run around Los Angeles dodging a group of dealers.
Coming to America 1 & 2
Coming to America
Eddie Murphy stars as the wealthy Prince Akeem, who flees to America with his friend, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to escape an arranged marriage. Disguised as a foreign student working in fast food, he sets out to find his one true love. James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, John Amos and Garcelle Beauvais co-star. The Coming 2 America sequel is also equally hilarious.
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
Issa Dee (Issa Rae) keeps it real. She may be struggling in her career, her love life and friendships, but she knows how to have fun and tough it out. Set in Inglewood, California, Insecure follows Issa and her best friends through the ups and down of everyday regular life.
The spinoff to Black-ish follows Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) as she moves out of her parents’ home and goes away to college. This coming-of-age series explores the trials and tribulations of young adulthood, including dealing with drugs, sex and relationships.
Based on Chicago's south side, The Chi finds kids and families navigating life, love, work and the challenges of growing up in one of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. The coming-of-age drama series follows a group of residents who accidentally become linked, but are then bonded by the need for connection.
Created by Lena Waithe, this BET series explores the lives of Hattie (Jonica T. Gibbs), a queer African American woman, and her two straight best friends, Mari (Christina Elmore) and Nia (Gabrielle Graham). All in their, you guessed it, 20s, the three attempt to chase their dreams in Los Angeles as they try to figure out life, love and their careers.
Black Is King
Black Is King
With its breathtaking visuals, Beyoncé’s latest project enhances the music of The Lion King: The Gift. The film celebrates the Black experience, African cultures and roots, Black resilience and the importance of the Black family, specifically today's young kings and queens. The film features cameos by Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong'o, JAY-Z, Kelly Rowland, Pharrell Williams, Tina Knowles Lawson, Blue Ivy Carter and others.
Brought to you by Tyler Perry, this comedy is set in the same universe as Sistas and follows four 30-something college friends -- John Watts (Barry Brewer), Dr. Tom Brooks (Mahdi Cocci), Mike Alexander (Phillip Mullings Jr.) and Bill Frazier (Monti Washington) -- as they navigate their successful careers, dating lives and everyday life. A second season is in the works.
Set in the late '80s, early '90s, this groundbreaking series is all about the LGBTQ community of color, the legends, icons and ferocious house mothers of New York’s underground ball culture. After her HIV positive diagnosis, Blanca Rodriguez (Mj Rodriguez) is forced to confront her mortality and dedicates herself to leaving a legacy with the help of her friend, Pray Tell (Billy Porter), and her new House of Evangelista family. Pose features the largest cast of transgender actors in series regular roles for a scripted series, including Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar and Angelica Ross.
Donald Glover leads this critically acclaimed dramedy as Earnest "Earn" Marks, a college dropout who takes control of his cousin Alfred's (Brian Tyree Henry) rap career as "Paper Boi." The two attempt to find success in the Atlanta rap scene. LaKeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz co-star.
Niecy Nash, Carrie Preston, Judy Reyes, Karrueche Tran and Jenn Lyon star as five manicurists working at the Nail Artisans salon in Manatee County, Florida, who enter the world of money laundering. As they build their own criminal empire, people find out they are not to be messed with.
Erik Voake/The CW
This sports drama follows rising South Crenshaw High football star Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), who gets recruited by Beverly Hills High coach and ex-NFL player Billy Baker (Taye Diggs). After switching schools, Spencer finds out that life in Beverly Hills is very different from his life back home -- but still has its own problems. A spinoff is also in the works.