Juneteenth: 19 Docs, TV Specials and Movies That Celebrate Black Freedom

OWN, Bisa Butler, Kindred

Two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, some 250,000 enslaved Black people continued to languish in bondage in the Lone Star State.

This changed on June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and informed the fettered fathers, mothers, sons and daughters that they were officially free. Since then, emancipated Black Texans and their descendants have celebrated their liberty with moving music, delicious food and fellowship on a day that came to be known as Juneteenth.

The jubilee, which became a Texas state holiday in 1980, spread in popularity and importance throughout the rest of the country over the years. However, it took on an exalted significance after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police sparked an overdue racial reckoning last year.

In 2020, a handful of networks used Juneteenth as an entry point in discussing the nationwide protests. This year, the offerings are even more thoughtful, cultivated and inclusive. From Amazon Prime’s celebration of Black Music Month and Juneteenth with the help of Oscar winning-artist H.E.R. and Kid Cudi to the historic film The 24th helmed by Da 5 Blood’s Kevin Willmott, there is something for everyone. Plus, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is executive-producing and narrating the History documentary Fight the Power: The Movements That Changed America, and TBS will commemorate Juneteenth with the premiere of Friday Night Vibes.

Curious about what other programming selections are in store for today and Saturday? Read on for TVLine’s extensive and diverse list of specials, docs, movies and more.