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5 Documentaries and Specials to Watch for Juneteenth

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Many channels and streaming platforms are airing and making available programs about Black history and culture in honor of Juneteenth.

On June 17, ABC is expected to show “Sound of Freedom: A Juneteenth Celebration.” The special is a part of the “Soul of a Nation” documentary series which covers the lives of Black Americans throughout history. Featuring different figures, including Sterling K. Brown, Cynthia Erivo, Tamron Hall and Barack Obama, the series has previously focused on reparations, Black trailblazers, faith and Black athletes in sports. 

Here are five other documentaries, movies and specials to watch to celebrate and honor Juneteenth.

  1. Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom (CNN): On Juneteenth at 8pmET, CNN is scheduled to air “Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom,” a concert to be held for the first time. Created by the president of Live Nation Urban, Shawn Gee, the special program features a variety of Black performers who will take the stage at the Hollywood Bowl to celebrate the national holiday. Spanning across genres from pop to classical music, the concert’s lineup includes Khalid, Earth, Wind & Fire, Jhene’ Aiko, Michelle Williams, the Roots and the Re-Collective Orchestra amongst others. CNN newscaster Don Lemon will host a special coverage before the program and highlight Black figures who are paving the way for equality for Black Americans. 
  1. Civil (Netflix): Available on Netflix on Juneteenth, “Civil” is a documentary about civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Known as “Black America’s Attorney General,” Crump has served as the patron of justice for the cases of Michael Brown, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor. Produced by Kenya Barris, “Civil” focuses on Crump’s efforts and career as well as social justice issues and inequality in the U.S. Before premiering on Netflix, the documentary is slated to be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival on its opening day as well as the 2022 American Black Film Festival. 
  1. Juneteenth: The Pursuit of Economic Equality (KHOU): Available on KHOU 11, streaming platform KHOU 11+ and KHOU.com for free, this documentary comes straight out of Galveston, Texas, a town deeply connected to Juneteenth. Galveston, Texas is the town that federal troops went to in 1865 and declared all enslaved persons as freed, leading to the creation and celebration of Juneteenth. The documentary picks up right after 1865 and explores the financial influence of Juneteenth as well as the possibilities for the newly freed Black Americans at the time. Composed mostly of interviews, the documentary features information from Galveston historian Sam Collins and the descendant of Reverend John Henry ‘Jack’ Yates who founded Emancipation Park, Jacqueline Bostic. The authors of “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” Kirsten Mullen and William Darity Jr., will also take part.
  1. Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre (Hulu): Available on Hulu in honor of Juneteenth, “Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre” is a two-part series created by the History Channel in 2021. Directed by filmmakers Stanley Nelson and Marco Williams, the series covers the creation of Black Wall Street, the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 and the reconstruction period following the two-day attack. Upon the documentary’s release, the series garnered critical acclaim, earning four Emmy nominations.
  1. Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage (History Channel): Scheduled to be aired on Juneteenth at 9 amET., “Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage” is a 2021 documentary featuring newscaster Robin Roberts as she explores the history of the Tuskegee Airmen. As the first Black soldiers to become members of the U.S. Army Air Corps, the Tuskegee Airmen- of which Roberts’ own father was a part of- broke barriers as they overcame segregation in the military and helped fuel the fire that would eventually become known as the Civil Rights Movement. This documentary is one of many to air on the History Channel on Juneteenth. In addition to “Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage,” documentaries about the Civil War, Buffalo Soldiers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black baseball players that followed Jackie Robinson will also be available to watch.

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