7 Must-See Programs and Films Honoring Black History Month

Jason A. Michael

Black History Month — the shortest month of the year, sadly — is quickly coming to a close once again. But before the month is over, take some time to check out some of the great programming related to the Black community available both on cable and currently streaming. From difficult-to-watch documentaries to classic films, with an awards show thrown in for good measure, here are seven shows and movies you shouldn’t miss.

Happy Birthday, Marsha!

“Happy Birthday, Marsha” is a short film by trans activist Tourmaline. Tourmaline has accused the filmmakers behind Netflix’s 2017 documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” of stealing her personal archival research. Here, Tourmaline, along with her collaborator Sasha Wortzel, imagine what Johnson was doing in the hours preceding the famous Stonewall Riots, which many historians credit Johnson for starting. Streaming currently on Prime Video.

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Beyond Ed Buck

The story of Ed Buck, told in this documentary produced and directed by Jayce Baron and “Pose” star Hailie Sahar. is a sickening tale. In two separate incidents, the Democratic donor was convicted of luring homeless Black men to his West Hollywood apartment before injecting them with hard drugs and having sex them with them when they were too high to consent. For the deaths of Gemmel Moore in 2017 and Timothy Dean in 2009, Buck was charged with three counts of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house. Buck was found guilty of these and other charges last year. The verdict was handed down on the fourth anniversary of Moore’s death. In a press release for the doc, the filmmakers indicated they endeavored to reveal “internalized homophobia, the psychological root of predatory behaviors, and to provide a deeper exploration of challenges faced by the Black and Brown LGBTQ+ community.” Streams on AMC’s ALLBLK starting Thursday, Feb. 24.

53rd annual NAACP Image Awards

The NAACP Image Awards honors outstanding representations and achievements of people of color in motion pictures, television, music and literature. The ceremony will be hosted by “Black-ish” actor Anthony Anderson for the ninth time. Popular nominees this year include Jennifer Hudson for her portrayal of Aretha Franklin in “Respect” and Will Smith, and Lil’ Nas X, of course, is up for Entertainer of the Year. Airs 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 on BET and LOGO.

Trayvon Martin: 10 Years Later

Monday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. on BET

Gayle King anchors this special that revisits 17-year-old Martin’s tragic death at the hands of self-proclaimed community watchman George Zimmerman in 2012. Martin’s death helped inspire the Black Lives Matter movement. Martin’s mother, who founded Mothers of the Movement after her son’s death, will appear and talk about the work she has done in her son’s memory. The special will examine the years since Martin’s death and the progress we’re making as, finally, convictions are made in cases such as the death of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Premieres Feb. 26 on CBS News Streaming Network and Smithsonian Channel; BET on Feb. 28.

The Color Purple

Saturday, Feb. 26 at 9:24 a.m. on AMC

Featuring notable lines that have firmly established themselves in the LGBTQ+ lexicon, Steven Spielberg’s 1985 masterpiece, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker, starred Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey in powerful performances. The film, like the book it was based on, took some heat at the time for portraying Goldberg’s Celie as being innocently yet seductively seduced by her husband’s mistress, Shug Avery (portrayed by Margaret Avery). Airs 9:24 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26 on AMC.

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One Life to Blossom

“One Life To Blossom” follows the life of Black transgender activist Blossom C. Brown when she undergoes her dream of getting face feminization surgery. The film examines Brown’s life as both an activist and an actress as she stands up for the rights of Black trans women and those living with HIV/AIDS. The film, which came out last year, is directed by Alexandrina Andre. Streaming currently on Revry.


“Bessie” is the biopic that tells the life story of bisexual blues singer Bessie Smith. Portrayed brilliantly by Queen Latifah, the films show how Bessie got her start at the hands of another bisexual chanteuse, Ma Rainey, played here by Mo’Nique. Smith led a tumultuous life, the tragedies of which are on full display here. Streaming currently on HBO Max


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