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10 Best Civil Rights Movies

Civil rights movies are those films that feature an important aspect of democratic beliefs, and despite a country’s history of slavery and persistent racial disparities, people’s individual rights and liberties are held sacred.

We all have this broad and important set of rights to protect us from unfair treatment in a variety of settings that are based on legally protected characteristics.

However, because of race, religion, and other characteristics, there are times when equal social opportunities aren’t guaranteed. 

Watch these civil rights movies that will stimulate intense emotions and get to the roots of morality. These might change your perspectives on the world and remind you that you’re ready to take on the world.

CIVIL RIGHTS MOVIES

To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford (Actors)
  • Robert Mulligan (Director) - Harper Lee (Writer) - Alan J. Pakula (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

To Kill a Mockingbird

This is staged as a three-act play. Racism is a learned attitude or sentiment, according to the children. There’s also a sweet coming-of-age story when the little kids understand that there’s no Boogeyman down the street and that their father is capable of much more than they thought.

Atticus Finch is played by Gregory Peck, a pillar of nobility, social conscience, and, unusually for 1930s America, a single dad.

To Kill a Mockingbird uses the inequity of race relations in the 1930s as a metaphor for the events of the 1960s. The picture was released amid a period of turmoil, and it was also an adaptation of a literary classic.

Selma
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo (Actors)
  • Ava DuVernay (Director) - Paul Webb (Writer) - Christian Colson (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Selma

Selma (2014) is based on the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and fight for equal voting rights.

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Starring David Oyelow as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is based on the true story of the legendary activist going on a dangerous three-month campaign to obtain equal voting rights for African Americans, which culminated with President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Watch this civil rights movie whenever you need a boost of motivation.

Lee Daniels' The Butler
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey (Actors)
  • Lee Daniels (Director) - Pamela Oas Williams (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Butler

The contrasting experiences of a White House butler who served eight presidents and his activist son vividly show the civil rights struggle.

The performances are powerful, and the era’s major sociopolitical shifts are depicted in a way that is often thrilling. Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, and John Cusack are among the cast members.

Loving
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Joel Edgerton, Marton Csokas, Ruth Negga (Actors)
  • Jeff Nichols (Director) - Jeff Nichols (Writer) - Nancy Buirski (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Loving

The 2016 film is based on the real-life love story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia.

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The historic ruling declared state laws prohibiting interracial marriage unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process sections. Get ready to pull out your tissue for this civil rights movie.

Remember the Titans
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Will Patton, Nicole Ari Parker, Denzel Washington (Actors)
  • Boaz Yakin (Director) - Gregory Allen Howard (Writer) - Jerry Bruckheimer (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Remember the Titans

Denzel Washington tackles prejudice as the school’s first black football coach, as well as the difficulty of uniting the team and leading them to victory.

He assembles a squad that includes both black and white pupils who clash and resent one another on the field until they achieve mutual respect. This is one of the best sports films of all time, and it’s about so much more than football.\

On the Basis of Sex
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux (Actors)
  • Mimi Leder (Director) - Daniel Stiepleman (Writer) - Jonathan King (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

On the Basis of Sex

In this movie, a hilarious and inspiring biographical film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s journey navigating life as a student, attorney, and mother, Felicity Jones stars as the iconic force.

The film depicts her continual battle against others who underestimate her based on her gender as she juggles a hard career and new parenthood.

RELATED:  10 Civil Rights Movies on Netflix

Finally, it follows Ginsburg as she presents a landmark case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which permanently altered the way courts consider gender discrimination.

Mississippi Burning
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe (Actors)
  • Alan Parker (Director) - Chris Gerolmo (Writer) - Robert F. Colesberry (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)

Mississippi Burning

The real-life 1964 murders of three civil rights activists on a voter registration drive in rural Mississippi are depicted in this highly heated and complex film.

The terrible savagery of the Ku Klux Klan and the general acceptance of segregation, bigotry, and injustice for black Americans is powerfully portrayed in this sleek and well-acted civil rights movie, partially based on an FBI examination of the case. 

Milk
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch (Actors)
  • Gus Van Sant (Director) - Dustin Lance Black (Writer) - Bruce Cohen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Milk

This is yet another inspiring historical film starring Sean Penn being Harvey Milk, as the first openly homosexual man elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Milk and his boyfriend Scott Smith move to San Francisco in quest of a life purpose and build a camera shop that becomes a focus for the city’s developing LGBT population.

Follow him as he takes the plunge into the murky waters of politics, making friends and enemies along the way.

Malcolm X (1992)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Angela Bassett (Actors)
  • Spike Lee (Director) - Arnold Perl (Writer) - Spike Lee (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Malcolm X

This ambitious and well-crafted biopic, based on Alex Haley’s 1965 book The Autobiography of Malcolm X, digs into what drove Malcolm X and dramatizes significant moments in his life such as his father’s death, his incarceration, his conversion to Islam, and his fall-out with the Nation of Islam.

It inserts photos of his life with images of the 1991 police beating of Rodney King and other racial flashpoints in an intriguing way.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Pamela Chude Allen, Judith Arcana, Nona Willis Aronowitz (Actors)
  • Mary Dore (Director) - Mary Dore (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Mary Dore directed this award-winning documentary on the history of feminism and the development of the liberation movement in the late 1960s.

From the creation of the National Organization of Women (NOW) through the birth of a more radical liberation movement, the film takes viewers on a trip.

It also discusses the difficulties that today’s feminists confront, as well as the current activists who are working relentlessly for equality.

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