With protests in support of #BlackLivesMatter still being held across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a white Minnesota police officer, there has also been a movement toward education and learning about America’s history of civil rights struggle. The movie industry seems to be stepping up this month, offering important films and documentaries about social injustice and racism, many available to stream for free. Here are the must-sees.

Just Mercy | iTunes, Amazon Prime and all VOD platforms

Michael B. Jordan plays real-life defense attorney Bryan Stevraenson, who traveled to Alabama after graduating from Harvard to help those who couldn’t afford legal representation, and found purpose in Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a death row prisoner and wrongfully accused victim of systematic racism. The filmmakers are offering the film for free throughout June and hope their movie can be a resource for those “interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society.” They also encourage viewers to learn more about Stevenson and his work at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI.org).

Selma | Amazon Prime and VOD

Chronicling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march from Selma to Montgomery to secure equal voting rights, Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed Selma has been made available for free rental on digital platforms through the end of the month. “We hope this small gesture will encourage people throughout the country to examine our nation’s history and reflect on the ways that racial injustice has infected our society,” stated Paramount via press release today. “The key message of Selma is the importance of equality, dignity and justice for all people. Clearly, that message is as vital today as it was in 1965.”

Criterion Collection

To highlight the ongoing civil rights struggle, the Criterion Collection film company announced the lifting of the paywall on several films made by black filmmakers, including Body and Soul by Oscar Micheaux, Black Panthers by Agnes Varda, Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash, and Down in the Delta by Maya Angelou. Click here to watch.


As announced on Instagram this week, HBO has curated a collection of free programming focused on Civil Rights and racism. “In solidarity with our Black colleagues, creators, and fans, HBO proudly supports the Equal Justice Initiative and NAACP Legal Defense Fund as we strive to make a lasting impact,” the network stated when it announced films it made available on its streaming platforms and for free on its YouTube Channel, including King in the Wilderness, a documentary by Emmy winning director Peter Kunhardt examining the conflicted period of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life in his last years.

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