14 Films to Watch to Celebrate Juneteenth

By world channel

Nearly two centuries ago, on June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in the city of Galveston with news that Texas slaves were two-and-a-half years late in learning: They were free. Though Texas was the last U.S. state to enforce Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 declaration of emancipation – Texas was far from Northern lines, and Union troops were few – it was the first, in 1980, to observe June 19 as a holiday. Today, Juneteenth, considered the longest-running African American holiday, honors the official end of slavery in the United States and celebrates liberty and justice.

Now, all 50 states recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday; in 2021, a bill was unanimously approved in the Senate with bipartisan support.

In commemoration of Juneteenth, and to honor Black history, freedom and achievement, WORLD invites you to stream films that champion Black stories, rights and the continuing fight for equality.

Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts | A Local, USA Special
Available on PBS Passport, Apple TV+ and Prime Video

Established by Congress, the 14th Amendment promised citizenship in exchange for enlistment, prompting many African American men. They were denied due to Jim Crow laws but still served. The film examines the profound and often-contradictory roles played by Buffalo Soldiers in U.S. history, and how they fought on two sets of front lines: military conflicts abroad and civil rights struggles at home.

On All Fronts | Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond
Available online, on YouTube & on the PBS app

The story of a Minneapolis family as it navigates difficult conversations about how the violence and racial reckoning of 2020-21 impacted them as a biracial family.

Two Dollars and a Dream
Available on YouTube

The biography of Madame C.J. Walker, America's first self-made millionairess. Mrs. Walker's fortune was built on skin and hair care products, parlaying a homemade beauty formula into a prosperous business from coast to coast. By interweaving social, economic and political history, the film also offers a view of black America from 1867 to the 1930s.

Fannie Lou Hamer’s America | America ReFramed
Available on PBS Passport, iTunes & Prime Video

A portrait of a civil rights activist and the injustices in America that made her work essential. Through public speeches, personal interviews, and powerful songs of the fearless Mississippi sharecropper-turned-human-rights-activist, Fannie Lou Hamer's America explores and celebrates the lesser-known life of one of the Civil Rights Movement’s greatest leaders.

The History of White People in America
Available on YouTube

Watch the history of how skin became race, and race became power. Through musical segments, uncover the truth of what it means to be American and that our racial history deserves contemplation.

Sapelo | America ReFramed
Available on PBS Passport

On Sapelo Island, two young brothers, JerMarkest and Jonathan, are coming of age in the last remaining enclave of the Saltwater Geechee. As Sapelo’s storyteller and elder matriarch, their adoptive mother, Cornelia Walker Bailey, works to preserve what remains of her African-American community in the face of encroachment by property developers.

The Falconer | America ReFramed
Available on PBS Passport

One of only a handful of African American falconers in the country, Rodney Stotts is on a mission to build a bird sanctuary and provide access to nature for his stressed community. This is a story of second chances: for injured birds of prey, for an abandoned plot of land, for a group of teenagers who have dropped out of high school, and for Rodney himself.

Metcalfe Park: Black Vote Rising | Local, USA
Available on PBS Passport

On April 7, Wisconsin held its primary election at the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. An estimated ~16% of Black voters were disenfranchised in Milwaukee. Danell Cross and Melody McCurtis are determined to prevent this from happening again. Follow the mother-daughter activist team as they organize their Black community to prepare for the 2020 presidential election and its challenges.

The Conversation Remix
Available online, on YouTube & on the PBS app

Exploring the present catharsis following the death of George Floyd, we dive into how the current uprising is impacting communities, and how we can contribute to discussions about racial justice reform. This remix of the 2015 'A Conversation about Race' series is a vibrant collage of people’s lives and experiences, which powerfully frame and illustrate the reckoning that is happening around us.

Growing Up Black | Stories from the Stage
Available online & on the Facebook, YouTube & PBS apps

What does it mean to grow up Black in America, a country too often divided by race? Bullied by a group of kids, Ben finds out he is not alone; Sue shares the realities of raising kids of a different race; and Angie learns about how far we have come, and how far we have to go in a chance encounter she will never forget. Watch Part 2 online and on the Facebook, YouTube & PBS apps.

Eyes on the Prize
Available on PBS Passport

The 1987 Oscar-nominated series tells the definitive story of the civil rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life, and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today. Narrated by political leader and civil rights activist Julian Bond (1940-2015).
 

Missing Magic | Hindsight
Available on YouTube & on the PBS app

As uprisings spread across the country, a young poet in Birmingham, Alabama becomes involved in local protests against decades of police brutality. As he tries to reconcile the city’s modern image as a diverse and welcoming metropolis with its violent and complex civil rights history, he suddenly becomes a part of the story when he’s arrested at a demonstration.
 

How It Feels to Be Free | American Masters
Available on PBS Passport

A documentary that tells the inspiring story of how six iconic African American women entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.
 

Muhammad Ali
Available on PBS Passport

Bringing to life one of the most indelible figures of the 20th century, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who captivated millions of fans across the world with his mesmerizing combination of speed, grace, and power in the ring, and charm and playful boasting outside of it. Ali insisted on being himself unconditionally and became a global icon and inspiration to people everywhere.
 


Discuss and engage with us on Facebook, InstagramTwitter and TikTok by using the hashtag #Juneteenth and tagging us @worldchannel. Subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube for more features including events and interviews.

Enjoy our content? Consider donating to keep important storytelling like this going, and find more on PBS Passport.

Related Content

Collection
Black Stories

Black history is American history. As we renew our collective commitment to lifting up the stories of Black movement makers and culture creators who define our world. Celebrate Black History Month with stories of leaders, artists, and everyday individuals making waves.

Collection
Race in America

Race in America is a collection of films by and about individuals from multicultural communities across the country and around the globe. Watch on-air, stream online and share the voices, the stories on WORLD and from our partners in public media.