Black History Month, which is observed in February, is a time to celebrate the diverse stories and achievements of Black people, reflect on ages past and work toward a future that is free from any systemic racism and oppression.

The idea was conceived back in 1926 as “Negro History Week” by Black historian Carter G. Woodson. It wasn’t until 1976 that it turned into a month-long affair, with the core idea being to encourage studying a subject that academia had long neglected. Now, it affords stories of marginalized figures and movements all throughout history to be introduced into the mainstream via many mediums — including film and television.

As such, we created a list of 2021’s best movies for Black History Month. It is a small-yet-substantial collection of films featuring Black talent, and all titles are available on Amazon Prime Video.

1. Moonlight (Dir. by Barry Jenkins)
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At times charming, at times tragic, “Moonlight” tells a classic coming-of-age story from a perspective we don’t often see in mainstream media: a poor, gay Black kid. The son of a crack-addicted single mom, Chiron’s life is shown through the lens of him as a kid, a teenager and a grown man living in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, all the time continually struggling to find a place in the world.

Able to communicate complex topics and emotions through simple words and nonverbal language, “Moonlight” is a masterpiece in storytelling and cinema that takes us through the lens of a young man who finds guidance, love and empathy in the most unexpected of places. As Barry Jenkins’ directorial breakthrough, it deserves its Oscar win for Best Picture. Watch Chiron as he undergoes his beautiful journey by streaming the movie via Prime Video.

2. Hidden Figures (Dir. by Theodore Melfi) 
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While many would say that “Hidden Figures” is a subtle yet powerful work of counter-history, we believe that it’s better described as the telling of a long-shelved accurate history. This is because the movie's message is simple: had it not been for the devoted and indispensable efforts of three Black women scientists, NASA might not have been able to successfully send astronauts into space and back.

Directed by Theodore Melfi and based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, the movie will leave you inspired and fulfilled. More than that, however, it will show you women crossing the finish line despite several hurdles caused by their skin color and gender.

Watch these powerful women on Amazon Prime Video.

3. Marshall (Dir. by Reginald Hudlin)
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In this film, the late Chadwick Boseman plays the real-life civil hero Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice in the U.S. Set in April 1941, Marshall introduces you to the then 32-year-old head lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 

Defending Black people who have been charged with crimes because of their race, Marshall is then sent to Connecticut to defend Joseph Spell, a Black chauffeur accused of rape by his employee’s wife, a white socialite.

Throughout its runtime, the movie depicts just how much of an uphill battle Marshall had to face in convincing an all-white jury that the Black man they put on trial was innocent. The ending presents a powerful racial justice victory in the U.S., and it also serves as a stark reminder that even decades after 1941, not much has changed in the criminal system.

Stream “Marshall” on Prime Video now.

4. Guava Island (Dir. by Hiro Murai)
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Hiro Murai and Donald Glover’s brainchild “Guava Island” manages to further cement the idiosyncratic genius of the two by being one of the purest pieces of fearless expression and creativity during its premiere at Coachella. A 55-minute short flick set in the beautiful fictional Guava Island, it depicts the journey of a hero demanding leisure time for Black workers.

Romantic in its tone and using Black-inspired musical phrases for prose, the film explores the white capitalist mindset of what a “productive” and “unproductive” life is and how liberation through art can help free people under it. The island itself may be fictional, but the everyday grievances that Black people experience while living there under the fraudulent “American dream” is all-too-real.

Art for art’s sake, “Guava Island” is pure cinematic escapism that lets you feel comfortable before punching you in the gut with its heavier underlying themes. Experience its diverse culture and themes by watching it on Amazon Prime Video.

5. Five Fingers for Marseilles (Dir. by Michael Matthews)
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The western genre of movies has always stuck to a singular period and place. However, Director Michael Matthews and Screenwriter Sean Drummond managed to expand it to the context of African cinema. In “The Five Fingers of Marseilles,” Matthews and Drummond subverts the genre by exploring two time periods: Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa.

During the Apartheid, a gang called “Five Fingers” dared to stand up against the brutal police oppression in their community. However, conflict arises when their leader kills two white policemen in defense, changing their gang forever. Twenty years later, the leader comes back seeking peace, only to find a vicious new threat that pushes him to fight once more.

Gritty yet strikingly beautiful in its imagery, “The Five Fingers of Marseilles” paints the struggle that Black folk commonly face in their communities, set against the classic lonely landscape that you’ve come to expect from Spaghetti Westerns.

Watch the story unfold by streaming it via Prime Video.

6. One Night in Miami... (Dir. by Regina King)
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Based on the award-winning play of the same name by Kemp Powers, “One Night in Miami” is a Golden Globe-nominated fictional account inspired by an incredible night in 1964. This is when Cassius Clay (soon to be called Muhammad Ali) celebrated his recent win with friends Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X.

Diving into the psyches and struggles that these four icons of sports, music and activism faced during the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, the film is a love letter to the Black experience in America. Moreover, it's about how we, as humans, can be brutally honest with each other yet stay as close friends.

It’s an impressive debut for director Regina King, who manages to bring the historic discussions on racial injustice, personal responsibility and religion that the four formidable men made in the past to today’s audience.

Witness the conversation by streaming it on Amazon Prime Video.

Witness the conversation yourself by streaming it on Amazon Prime Video.
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By combining video diaries made by Sibil Fox Richardson, Director Garrett Bradley paints a mesmerizing, sad yet hopeful film in “Time.” Depicting resilience and radical love, it explores the present-day life of Richardson and her children, who spent the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband Rob. In jail for a robbery he and Sibil committed out of desperation back in the early 1990s, he is currently serving a 60-year sentence.

Engrossing, endearing and brave, this movie chronicles the journey of a woman committed to fighting an unjust prison sentence and how the love she and her husband have for each other continues to prevail over the endless separations that the U.S. prison-industrial complex imparts. “Time” is must-see, so stream it now via Prime Video.