19 Things To Watch This Juneteenth Weekend

Observe the federal holiday with movies, series, specials, documentaries, and family programming that celebrate the Black experience in America.

by | June 18, 2023 | Comments

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Juneteenth, the federal holiday observed on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in Texas, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on January 1, 1863. To commemorate the holiday, networks and streamers have lined up programming this weekend that highlights and celebrates the Black experience in America.

From documentaries and comedies to musical celebrations and empowering family fare, here are 19 shows, specials, and movies you can watch to educate and entertain your family over the holiday weekend.

Friday, June 16

Where to Watch: In Theaters | buy on Vudu
The Blackening centers around a group of Black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway only to find themselves trapped in a remote cabin with a twisted killer. Forced to play by his rules, the friends soon realize this ain’t no motherfu**in’ game. Directed by Tim Story (Ride Along, Think Like A Man, Barbershop) and co-written by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip, Harlem) and Dewayne Perkins (The Amber Ruffin Show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), The Blackening skewers genre tropes and poses the sardonic question: if the entire cast of a horror movie is Black, who dies first?

Saturday, June 17

Where to Watch: A&E (free with your cable subscription)
The investigative documentary explores the efforts to reform the Mississippi correctional system led by a team of attorneys on behalf of the inmates of Parchman Prison. This three-hour documentary tells the inside stories of the families, the legal team and Roc Nation across three years of legal battles to end the deadly conditions for those incarcerated at Parchman in an effort to reform the Mississippi correctional system. Contributors to the film include Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims, Representative Bennie Thompson, activists including Tamika Mallory, family members of incarcerated individuals, and more.

Where to Watch: NatGeo Wild (free with your cable subscription) | by subscription on Disney+ starting June 21
Life-long birder Christian Cooper takes us into the wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds. Whether navigating volcanic terrain in Hawaii for elusive honeycreepers, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots, or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a peregrine falcon, he does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary, feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above.

Monday, June 19

Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom

Miguel, Chloe Bailey, Nelly

Miguel, Chloe Bailey, Nelly (Photo by Getty Images: Paras Griffin; Amy Sussman; Kevin Winter/The Recording Academy)

Where to Watch: CNN/OWN, 8 p.m.
Celebrated Black artists and musicians will take the stage at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles for CNN’s second annual “Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom” concert. Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver special remarks during the event, which will include performers Charlie Wilson, Miguel, Kirk Franklin, Nelly, SWV, Davido, Coi Leray, Jodeci and Mike Phillips, with Academy award–winning director Questlove and Adam Blackstone serving as the musical directors. The show will also feature a tribute to the late music legend Tina Turner by singer and Grown-ish star Chlöe Bailey. The event is produced by Live Nation Urban and Jesse Collins Entertainment.

Juneteenth Honors

Where to Watch: Shades of Black (FAST channel), 8 p.m.
Shades of Black will host the world premiere of the Juneteenth Honors starting at 8pm ET. This live awards and music show, presented by The Juneteenth Foundation, celebrates black excellence. The show will highlight the history and achievements of African Americans and raise money for HBCU scholarships to further the dreams and goals of a new generation of Black leaders and change makers. The event will be hosted by entertainer and entrepreneur MC Lyte and will feature performances by JaRule, Ashanti, Toosii, Lalah Hathaway, iAmCompton, and the Howard Gospel Choir with appearances by T.I., Tamika Mallory, Chuck D., Herbie Hancock, Rohan Marley, Chuck Creekmur (CEO and Founder of AllHipHop), and Dr. Kevin James (President Morris Brown College). FM will air the award show on June 21 at 1 a.m. ET.

Now Streaming

Where to Watch: Kanopy (free with public library membership) | Freevee (with ads)
Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s story has just begun. The Obamas have remained quite busy with their new life of activism which includes their issue-oriented production company, Higher Ground, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary in 2020. Mrs. Obama’s autobiography, Becoming, has become the best-selling memoir of all time and even won a Grammy following the publication of her book. Get lost in the incredible journey of this modern-day First Lady’s story in the making…

Where to Watch: Peacock
The film, directed by three-time News Emmy nominee Rachel Boynton (Big Men, Our Brand Is Crisis) who also produced the documentary with Erika Dilday, travels across the United States, exploring how Americans tell the story of their Civil War. Filmed from President Obama’s final year in office through the present, it interweaves insightful scenes and touching interviews filmed North and South, painting a uniquely crafted, multi-faceted portrait of the American psyche and the deep roots of its turbulent times.

Where to Watch: rent on Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV
A former beauty queen turned hardworking single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she made. The film stars Nicole Beharie, who earned a Best Actress Gotham Independent Film Award for her performance, Kendrick Sampson, and newcomer Alexis Chikaeze, who earned a Best Supporting Female Actress Independent Spirit Award nomination

Where to Watch: Netflix
The series takes viewers on a culinary journey that ventures from Africa to the deep south. Adapted from food historian Jessica B. Harris’ book of the same name, the immersive four-episode docuseries — part culinary show, part travelogue — follows food writer Stephen Satterfield as he meets the chefs, historians, and activists who are keeping centuries-old traditions alive. Over Western African stews, soul food, barbecue, and fine dining, the series, directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, reveals an expansive, eclectic culinary history shaped by slavery, the Civil War, Juneteenth, and present day. It’s a story of Black America’s resilience, enduring creativity, and vital contribution to America’s kitchen.

Where to Watch: rent from Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV
Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into the one and only Spider-Man. When he meets Peter Parker, he soon realizes that there are many others who share his special, high-flying talents. Miles must now use his newfound skills to battle the evil Kingpin, a hulking madman who can open portals to other universes and pull different versions of Spider-Man into our world.

Where to Watch: Netflix
Interweaving lecture, personal anecdotes, interviews, and shocking revelations, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.

Where to Watch: YouTube
The film, from National Geographic Documentary Films partners with filmmaker Dawn Porter, follows award-winning Washington Post journalist and Oklahoma native DeNeen Brown reporting on the search for a mass grave in her native state. Digging into the events that led to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in America’s history, Brown reveals insights into racial conflict incidents that erupted in the early 20th century. Between 1917 and 1923, when Jim Crow laws were at their height and the Ku Klux Klan was resurging across the nation, scores of Black homes and businesses were razed, and hundreds of Black people were lynched and massacred with impunity.

Where to Watch: Disney+
A continuation of the acclaimed series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder follows the adventures and misadventures of newly 14-year-old Penny Proud and her Proud Family as they navigate modern life with hilarity and heart. The 2020s brings new career highs for mom Trudy, wilder dreams for dad Oscar and new challenges for Penny, including a socially woke neighbor who thinks she has a lot to teach her, bullying social media influencers who want to cancel her and her own teenage hormones. Penny’s friends return, including Dijonay, LaCienega, Zoey and Michael. Penny’s Suga Mama also returns, ready as ever to dispense tough love or a gentle hand whenever Penny needs it. Among the new faces are Maya and KG, new kids who not only have to deal with the struggles of being the new kid but also having two dads, a first for Smithville.

Where to Watch: Kanopy (free with public library membership) | by subscription on PBS Documentaries on Prime Video | rent on Prime Video or Apple TV+
The 90-minute documentary challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality.

Where to Watch: PBS Passport | PBS Documentaries on Amazon
Chuck D transports audiences back to hip-hop’s inception and documents the genre’s steps in revolutionizing and challenging America’s history over four decades.

Fight the Power: The Movements That Changed America

Where to Watch: Apple TV+
Executive produced and narrated by NBA legend and social justice advocate Kareem Abul-Jabbar, and Deborah Morales of Iconomy Multi-Media & Entertainment, the one-hour documentary looks at the impact key movements throughout U.S. history have had in shaping our society, laws, and culture. From the labor movement of the 1880s, women’s suffrage, and civil rights, to the LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter movements, protest is in the American DNA and this documentary gives an unfiltered look at the ways it has evolved the world in which we live.

Where to Watch: Netflix
The 2020 film is an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House. The film offers a rare and up-close look at her life, taking viewers behind the scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories.

Where to Watch: by subscription on Disney+ and Hulu

Inspired by the beloved award-winning series of the same name, The Wonder Years is a new original coming-of-age comedy that tells the story of the Williams family during the late 1960s, all through the point of view of imaginative 12-year-old Dean. With the wisdom of his adult years, Dean’s hopeful and humorous recollections of his past spotlight the ups and downs of growing up in a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama, and the friendship, laughter and lessons along the way.

Where to Watch: Hulu
In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary — part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten — until now. The Academy Award–winning documentary shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, and more.

Read Also:
The 123 Best Black Movies of the 21st Century
110 Important Films About the Black Experience
20 Under-the-Radar Black Movies You Should Seek Out

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