Four documentaries to watch during Black History Month

Photo courtesy Daniel J. Newton

When it comes to Black history documentaries many people think of films about the times of slavery and segregation. However, there are some documentaries that discuss more current topics involving the Black community and other interesting areas of Black history. 

Here are four Netflix-original documentaries available for streaming that you may want to check out during Black History Month. 

“Strong Island”

“Strong Island” is an Oscar-nominated documentary that was released in 2017. The film was made by Yance Ford and it explores a problem that is still an issue for African Americans today: the justice system. 

This documentary is personal to Ford. Ford’s brother, William Ford Jr. was killed in 1992 at 24 years old by a white 19-year-old named Mark Reilly. The Fords are Black. The documentary tells the story of how the Ford family was treated after the murder and how the justice system failed them. 

“I did not feel that we were received as parents of a victim. No officer spoke to me. No officer would look at me,” Barbara Ford, the mother of the victim, said in the film. 


“Becoming” is a film that follows Michelle Obama on her tour for her book with the same title. The film was released in 2020.

Obama is one of the most influential African American voices in modern history, and she has been able to use her platform to accomplish a lot since being First Lady of the United States. In the film, she uses her own story to inspire those younger than her. 

“If we can open up a little bit more to each other and share our stories, that’s what breaks down barriers,” Obama said in the documentary. 

“The Black Godfather”

“The Black Godfather” was released in 2019 and is a documentary that follows the life of Charles Avant. He is a historical figure who was influential behind-the-scenes in both the entertainment industry and politics. 

The film discusses how Avant worked to change the world and influenced those around him. The film includes words of praise for Avant from influential figures like Jamie Foxx, Cicely Tyson, Snoop Dogg, Barack Obama and Sean Combs.

“He became that mentor for us all. He became that Godfather,” Combs said in the film. 


“Homecoming” is a 2019 film by Beyoncé. It shows the road leading up to her 2018 Coachella performance. 

Beyoncé’s performance was modeled after the band and orchestra performances that many attribute to historically Black colleges and universities. She even had actual students from HBCUs performing with her. The film is a display of HBCU culture and its importance. 

“I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny’s Child. My college was traveling around the world, and life was my teacher. I wanted a Black orchestra. I wanted the steppers, I needed the vocalists,” Beyoncé said in the documentary.

These four documentaries may not discuss the typical Black history figures and topics that first come to mind, but they all discuss issues, people and topics that are relevant to the Black community. They can all be found on Netflix.