25 Netflix Movies with Black Leads You Need To See

On the surface, it might not seem like Netflix provides many films starring or concerning Black people. But after digging through genres, you can find comedies, dramas, documentaries and, of course, a few favorite guilty pleasures with Black leads and casts. Luckily, we’ve done the searching for you. Next time you’re looking for something to stream on Netflix, check out some of these films and short educational series.

1. Fruitvale Station (2013)

Sundance Film award-winning drama, Fruitvale Station, follows the final hours of Oscar Grant who was shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police on the train station platform New Year’s Day, 2009. Not to mention, it stars Octavia Spencer and our boy Michael B. Jordan.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxUG-FjefDk

2. Middle of Nowhere (2012)

Directed by Ava DuVernay, Middle of Nowhere follows medical student Ruby, who puts her studies on hold when her husband is sent to prison for eight years.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYu8axSs9qw

3. Eve’s Bayou (1996)

Set in 1960s Louisiana, this film centers on young Eve, who learns of her father’s infidelity and also learns lessons about truth, love and cheating.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVKP1G95fyM

4. Dark Girls (2012)

This documentary explores colorism and the prejudices held against dark-skinned women in society through interviews with women, men and academics.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOjgTIN9pTE

5. Bebe’s Kids (1992)

Remember “We don’t die. We multiply?” And baby Pee Wee’s strong, manly voice? Flashback to the ’90s and recap on the lovable chaos of these out of control children in Bebe’s Kids.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnwQeU_stCw

6. Hoop Dreams (1994)

This award-winning documentary follows two top high school basketball players and the struggles they face concerning race and class in inner-city Chicago.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjrXyuTnM88

7. Juice (1992)

Tupac. Need I say more?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsWto8p7t1E

8. Girlhood (2015)

Sick of life at school and being abused at home, Marieme starts a new life of independence.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORJ7l696tWA

9. The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete (2013)

After his mother is arrested, 14-year-old Mister looks after 9-year-old runaway Pete and they attempt to hide from protective services.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdq4_UDykCs

10. 20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

2014 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary, this film tells the untold story of some of the best backup singers for the greatest musicians of the 21st Century.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWyUJcA8Zfo

11 & 12. Barbershop 1 (2002) | Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)

Who wouldn’t want to watch Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer and the rest of this awesome cast in this hilarious comedy movie series?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k721dRb2Hmc

13. The Wood (1999)

When the groom gets cold feet, his best friends only have a few hours to find him, sober him up and send him off to the altar.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koP2IdQhA_I

14. Basquiat (1996)

This film is for you art buffs out there. It chronicles the life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and the romances and struggles he faced.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsWZyvtX5tU

15. Harlem Nights (1989)

Quick. Sugar Ray. Bugsy. We might not dare to name our kids like this nowadays, but it worked for Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor in Harlem Nights. Check out this ’80s comedy for some good laughs. #isthatWhitely?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En27DgNW0nY

16. Night Catches Us (2010)

An ex-Black Panther goes back to his hometown hoping to conquer his demons but finds trouble (and some romance) upon his return. If that’s not enough for you, my girl Kerry Washington stars in it, and The Roots made sure that the soundtrack was on point.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIsyFtBXO58

17. Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1993)

I think this movie pretty much sums up ’90s fashion, don’t you? Seriously, you’ve got to watch this coming-of-age drama/comedy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNPuHRPFyUk

18. Black in Latin America (2011)

Shout out to you Afro-Latinos out there. Does this PBS series do justice to the history behind African roots in Latin America? Watch and find out.

19. African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013)

This six-episode PBS series tells the history of Blacks in America from the 1500s up until present times.

20. Down in the Delta (1998)

Directed by Maya Angelou… Wait, are you sure you don’t need me to give you a quick summary? Yes, I agree. Just say “Maya Angelou” and I’m there with my bowl of popcorn, ready to go.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOij6VZrBWE

21. Two Can Play That Game (2001)

Remember this funny take on the “battle of the sexes?” Or the one guy who always did voiceovers for movie trailers in the ’90s and early ’00s? If you need a refresher, watch this trailer and then proceed to watch the actual movie.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGbh13QDY5I

22. Vanishing Pearls (2014)

This documentary exposes the effects of the 2010 oil spill on the people and economy of a town on the Gulf Coast.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KM6xdvrP9I

23. Belly (1998)

Did you forget Nas and DMX were in a movie together? Quick, if you did, watch it now and pretend like this blunder never happened.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctYoGiiBUCs

24. Yelling To The Sky (2012)

If you’re in for another emotional roller-coaster featuring Gabourey Sidibe, look into this tearjerker.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5CSo_E3vpQ

25. Peeples (2013)

And if you need a simple pick-me-up, watch this really cute comedy starring Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy9Y06zpgTo

Well, these movies should keep you busy. Do you have any films on Netflix to recommend? Share them with us!


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