As we seek to better understand one another as Americans of different ethnicities, one of the easiest ways to teach our families is through entertainment. Movies and books present an easy way to visually illustrate the story of Black and white Americans. Each of the movies and books below highlight Black characters and their encounters racial issues, white characters who chose to see character over color, young people who persevered against all odds to break down barriers. Each of these allow for great family conversations about fair and equal treatment, the progress we’ve experienced as a nation, and where we need to go in our pursuit of unity and understanding the differences we possess that make us better together.

Films

  • 13th. Riveting documentary about the racial injustices and inequities facing Black Americans that beg for reform.
  • Selma. Drama about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s historic march through Selma, Alabama.
  • Brian’s Song. Touching story of Brian Piccolo and Gayle Sayers and the brotherly bond between the two Chicago Bears football players despite their racial differences.
  • 42. The story of Jackie Robinson as he breaks the color barrier of Major League Baseball.
  • Pride. A Black swim coach forms a championship swim team to save an inner-city rec center. Along the way, they face ridicule and racial prejudice from upper class white swimmers and their families.
  • Glory Road. Texas Western men’s basketball coach Don Haskins makes a civil rights statement by leading the first all-black starting line-up to an NCAA national championship in 1966.
  • The Hate U Give. How a Black teen copes after witnesses the fatal police shooting of a close friend.
  • Hidden Figures. The story of three brilliant Black women who worked at NASA in the 1950s and ‘60s.
  • Loving. Interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving challenge Virginia law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to have their marriage recognized.
  • The Great Debaters. Film features the childhood of Fredericksburg civil rights activist James Farmer Jr as he and his debate team overcome prejudice in academia.
  • The Last Brickmaker in America. After the death of his wife, an aging Black brickmaker and a troubled white 13-year-old form an unlikely friendship that helps them both find hope and redemption.

Books

  • Sneeches by Dr. Seuss. The perfect Seuss tale to help young readers understand prejudice as told through Star-bellied Sneetches and their star-less friends.
  • We’re Different, We’re the Same (Sesame Street) by Bobbi Kates. Elmo and gang teach kids and adults how our differences (and similarities) make our world a wonderful place.
  • Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. Kids learn from and get inspired by trailblazing black women in American history.
  • Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison. Kids learn from and get inspired by trailblazing black men in American history.
  • Who Was’ Series (includes Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Harriet Tubman and more) by various authors. This series teaches kids about the lives of famous Black men and women who have influenced and shaped America for the better. (Series also features other commonly known pioneers such as Amelia Earhart, The Suffragettes, Albert Einstein and more)
  • Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine. Fed up with being a slave, Henry Brown discovers a crate at a warehouse where he works and mails himself to freedom in the North.