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Video Collection: U.S. Racial Justice & Black History

For Americans to have informed conversations about race, it’s important to continually listen to — and learn about — the experiences of others.

These curated documentaries and episodes explore the journey and contributions of Black Americans, and they delve into the history of racism in U.S. institutions.

View more public media resources at the bottom of this collection.

HIGHLIGHT: PBS Kids Talk About Race & Racism

This PBS Kids program features authentic conversations between real children and their parents. Adults can learn how to talk with kids about noticing differences in race, understanding what racism can look like, and standing up for ourselves and each other — all in age-appropriate ways. KERA hosted a virtual discussion among local experts after a recent special screening of this program. Play the screening above, and watch a replay of the discussion right here.


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Explore documentaries, biographies, explainers and investigative reports:
The Central Park Five

The story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park in 1989. Directed and produced by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns, the film chronicles the Central Park Jogger case, from the perspective of the five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice. | More

The Groveland Four

July, 1949: four young black men are wrongly accused of rape by a 17-year-old farm wife in rural Lake County, Florida. This case included a race riot, torture, multiple murders, two trials and a Supreme Court reversal, and it helped lay a foundation for the Civil Rights Movement. From WUCF in Orlando, Florida. | More

Origin Of Everything: The Racist Origins Of U.S. Law

This episode of the PBS Digital Studios show analyzes the discriminatory history of U.S. law, tracing its origins in colonialism and chattel slavery up through the Jim Crow era and today's mass incarceration. | More

The Talk: Race In America

This two-hour documentary is about the increasingly common conversation taking place in homes and communities across the country between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police.

Policing The Police

How do you transform a troubled police department? From PBS Frontline. | More

Police Reimagined: The Future of Public Safety, Part 1

This community conversation series attempts to answer the question: Can you reduce funding for police while ensuring public safety for all communities? | More

Peace Officer

Meet Dub Lawrence, a crusading former sheriff whose investigations highlight increasingly militarized state of American police. Dub established Utah’s first SWAT team, only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff. | More

Freedom Riders

American Experience tells the story behind civil rights activists in 1961 who challenged segregation in the American South. | More

A Night At The Garden

In 1939, 20,000 Americans rallied in New York’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism, an event largely forgotten to American history. | More

The First Rainbow Coalition

In one of postwar America's most segregated cities, the Chicago Black Panther Party, Latino group the Young Lords and southern whites the Young Patriots banded together to confront issues like police brutality and substandard housing. | More

Race Matters: America in Crisis

PBS NewsHour turns to grassroots voices from around the country and host roundtable conversations of thought leaders, newsmakers and experts. | More

From The School Bus To The Hospital, A Doctor's Experiences With Racism

From StoryCorps: Hear Dr. Ayim Darkeh and his mother, Shirley, talk about the discrimination Ayim faced as a child and how it shaped his parenting approach. | More

A Century Of Change | Negro League Centennial Celebration

One hundred years after the establishment of the Negro National League in Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City PBS uncovers the story and the historical facts about how African Americans sustained in the times after the Great War.

For Gold And Glory

After being denied participation in the Indianapolis 500, Charlie Wiggins, "the Negro Speed King," created a national racing league for African Americans. | More

Backs Against The Wall: The Howard Thurman Story

Congressman John Lewis called him the “patron saint” of the Civil Rights Movement. This film explores the extraordinary life of Howard Thurman, a teacher, poet and, in his heart a “mystic,” and proponent of the non-violent struggle for social change. | More

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise & Fall Of Jack Johnson, Part 1

Follow the remarkable journey of Jack Johnson, the first Black world heavyweight champion, from his humble beginnings in Galveston as the son of former slaves to his entry into the brutal world of professional boxing. Directed by Ken Burns. | More

Knoxville's Red Summer | The Riot of 1919

One hundred years ago, Bertie Lindsey was murdered and the accused was almost lynched by an angry mob. Riots throughout the city became known as Knoxville’s Red Summer. This film chronicles the unrest, featuring never-before-seen newsreel footage uncovered by the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS). From the Black in Appalacia series. | More

8th Of August | Tennessee’s Celebration Of Emancipation

Even though Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to slaves in Tennessee, the then-Military Governor of the state, Andrew Johnson, emancipated his own slaves on the 8th of August, 1863. From the Black in Appalachia series. | More

Should We Keep Eating Soul Food?

What is now soul food was once eaten out of necessity. This episode of PBS Digital Studio's Say It Loud series explores the new and inventive ways a younger generation is honoring and preserving African Americans' culinary past. | More

Facing North: Jefferson Street, Nashville

This Nashville Public Television production explores the legacy of the city's north corridor, a historically Black neighborhood with three HBCUs and a large cultural footprint in civil rights, the arts and medicine. | More

DuSable To Obama: Chicago's Black Metropolis

WTTA in Chicago tells the story of the city's African American history, culture and citizens, from founder Jean Baptiste Point du Sable to the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama. | More

Building Atlanta: The Story Of Herman J. Russell

Russell was born in the Jim Crow-era South. He built one of the oldest and largest Black-owned construction and real estate firms in the country, and since the 1960s, his company has helped shape Atlanta's skyline. From public television station ATL PBS in Atlanta. | More

Fannie Lou Hammer: Stand Up

A Black sharecropper from the Mississippi Delta, Hamer’s difficulty registering to vote in 1962 led to her career as an outspoken activist, congressional candidate, and fierce fighter for the rights of all.

Tell Them We Are Rising

The role that the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played in shaping Black life, creating a Black middle class and dismantling segregation cannot be overstated. From Independent Lens. | More

POV Shorts: The Changing Same

In the Florida Panhandle lies the provincial town of Marianna where one native resident runs a particular marathon in hopes of lifting the veil of racial terror caused by the town’s buried history. | More

Cooked: Survival By Zip Code

In a single week during the 1995 Chicago heatwave — the most traumatic in U.S. history — 739 citizens died in a single week, most of them poor, elderly and African American. | More

George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Life

While George Washington Carver's rise from slavery to scientific accomplishment has inspired millions, this documentary uncovers his complexities and reveals the full impact of his life and work.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Nikole Hannah Jones

The creator of the 1619 Project on slavery for The New York Times Magazine shares with American Masters how her work frequently explores the structural inequality created by racism in the U.S. From the Unladylike2020 series. | More

Documenting Hate: Charlottesville

FRONTLINE and ProPublica investigate how the violent and infamous rally in Charlottesville in 2017 became a watershed moment for the white supremacist movement. | More

Reconstruction: America After The Civil War | Extended Trailer

Watch with KERA Passport: The 12 years that composed the post-Civil War Reconstruction era (1865-77) witnessed a seismic shift in the meaning and makeup of U.S. democracy. Explore the transformative years following the war. | More

I Am Not Your Negro (Excerpt)

Watch an excerpt from the Oscar-nominated film, which envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a radical narration about race in America in the writer’s original words, as read by actor Samuel L. Jackson. The full film is available on Netflix. | More

Struggle & Hope

Following the Civil War, all-Black towns emerged in what is now modern-day Oklahoma. Initially founded in an effort to convince the U.S. to create an all-Black state, only a few towns cling heroically to life. This film tells the stories of the remaining residents, while charting their fight to ensure their towns retain independence, character and hope for a better future. | More

The Murder Of Emmett Till

The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world, Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began. From American Experience. | More

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise - Social Media & Social Justice (Clip)

In this multi-part documentary series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the last 50 years of African American history. This clip takes a look at the recent crossroads of digital media and racial justice. Watch more clips from the series or purchase and watch the series on Amazon Prime.

Getting Back To Abnormal

What happens when America’s most joyous, dysfunctional city rebuilds itself after a disaster? New Orleans is the setting for this POV film that serves up a provocative mix of race, corruption and politics to tell the story of the re-election campaign of Stacy Head, a white woman in a city council seat traditionally held by a black representative. | More

The Eugenics Crusade

This American Experience episode tells the story of the largely unknown campaign to breed a “better” American race, tracing the rise of the movement that turned the fledgling science of heredity into a powerful instrument of social control. | More

More resources

▸ Stay informed on race in current events with KERA News’ coverage

▸ Teachers and parents — view KERA’s education resource toolkit on protests, race and African American history

▸ PBS also has a collection of resources to help parents discuss race and racism with children

▸ Go to video.kera.org to watch more documentaries and series