10 Racial Justice Documentaries You Should Watch

The senseless murder of George Floyd has sparked police brutality protests across all 50 states. Americans have to make a change; it is time to learn, listen, watch, read, and educate. History repeats itself — in the following list of documentaries, there are some scary parallels to the racial climate of 2020. Yet, these documentaries provide insight into the struggles of the black community. We must educate ourselves on the pain of the past not to heal the symptoms of police brutality, but the cause — racial injustice.

Netflix:

LA ’92


Rodney King was beaten to death by police officers. The officers who attacked King were not found guilty despite the evidence, and the riots that ensued in Los Angeles arouse a scary parallel to 2020.

13th


In this eye-opening documentary, the institution of slavery is traced to the prison establishment. The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, has instead manifested it within the prison system, where black Americans are disproportionately incarcerated. 

Time: The Kalief Browder Story


A docuseries on 16-year-old Browder, who was accused of stealing a backpack but ended up serving 3 years in jail. Never been convicted of a crime, he spent two of these years in solitary confinement. Each episode depicts a different aspect of his incarceration, including Browder’s life afterward.

Teach Us All


Teach Us All traces the racial segregation that is still present all these years post- Brown v Board of Education. The documentary focuses on Little Rock, New York City, and Los Angeles and their respective education disparity.

Strong Island


The documentary is the director Yance Ford’s examination of the murder of his brother William, who was shot at an auto shop by a white employee. This film is particularly focused on the continued pains and challenges of the justice system.


HBO:

3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets


This documentary provides a look into the tragic death of teen Jordan Davis, who was shot in a parking lot while listening to music with friends. The attacker was indeed found guilty of murder, but the tumultuous path to that conclusion was ugly.

Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland


28-year-old activist Sandra Bland was arrested for a traffic violation. A couple of days later, she was found hanged in her jail cell. Her death has been ruled a suicide but is surrounded by questions — ones that even the documentary struggle to answer. 

Baltimore Rising


This film depicts the Baltimore protests and overall unrest of the city in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death. Gray died due to injuries sustained after his arrest, and the case of his death is still without a verdict.

True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality


Alabama attorney Bryan Stevenson’s mission is to combat racial inequality and discrimination within the justice system. This documentary highlights his efforts to challenge legal racism.


Hulu:

Whose Streets?


This documentary tells the story of Michael Brown’s death, and the uprisings it caused in Ferguson, Missouri. The officer who shot him was never indicted, but this case made quite an impact on this Missouri city.

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