These documentaries talk about and explain racism


17 Documentaries to Educate You About Racism

Corinna Muhl


On Sunday, the Black Film Festival in Zurich screened “Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” followed by a podium. The invited guests agreed: they are still affected by racism in Switzerland today.

You can watch the following documentaries to deal extensively with racism and deal with the topic that is still red-hot:

trigger warning

This article discusses persecution and violence against people of color.

“The Black Panthers are the vanguard of the revolution”

The Black Panther was an organization that opposed police brutality against blacks in the 1960s. They used the law that allowed anyone to bear arms and were willing to defend themselves. The documentary features archival footage showing police brutality, black protests, and the Black Panther’s stand against injustice and oppression.

Both episodes of the documentary can be purchased from Amazon.


“Black Energy Mix Tape 1967-1975”

This film also deals with the Black Panther movement in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. The documentary was created from Swedish archive recordings that were discovered 30 years later in the basement of a television studio. Featuring interviews with the movement’s revolutionary minds, including Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael and Kathleen Cleaver, the film explores society, people, and the movement’s extremist ideas.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is not currently available on any streaming service provider.


“I’m not your nigger”

Director Raoul Beck takes James Baldwin’s book that he never completed: Remember This House. By connecting Baldwin’s words to the current Black Lives Matter movement, Beck challenges the precise definition of what America stands for. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2016 in the “Best Documentary” category.

More information about the movie can be found on the official website.

“I’m Not a Negro” can be rented or purchased on iTunes and Google Play.



In this documentary, the filmmakers investigate the judicial system in the United States. The number “13” shows that the reason for the high incarceration rate in America can be traced back to the unequal treatment of people from different backgrounds.

Netflix has put the full documentary on YouTube, where it can be watched for free. It is also available on the Netflix app.

The entire documentary:

“Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali”

This Netflix documentary explores the friendship between human rights activist Malcolm X and professional boxer Muhammad Ali, their fragility and vulnerability.

The documentary is available on Netflix.


“The Black Godfather”

“The Black Godfather” is the nickname of Hollywood legend Clarence Avant. Avant has advised and influenced artists, athletes, and politicians such as Snoop Dogg, Lionel Richie, Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama. Avant deliberately stayed out of the spotlight – until ingrained racism emerged in the United States and redefined the entertainment industry for black stars.

The documentary can be watched on Netflix.


“Black Eagles”

The documentary “Schwarze Adler” explores the question of how racist German football is. German footballers tell their stories and experiences with racism in top-class sports. Their stories show what it is like when thousands of football fans are racially abused in stadiums. The documentary also shows how viewers and media in Germany have dealt with this topic and how the way racism is dealt with in football has changed in recent years.

“Schwarze Adler” is available on Amazon Prime and in the ZDF media library.


“Central Park Five”

The Central Park Five is investigating the case of five black and Spanish teens convicted of raping a white woman in 1989. After the two men had been in prison for up to 13 years, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.

Documentary trailer:

Netflix re-shot the events in the mini-series When They See Us:

teaser series:

“Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story”

In 2012, teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida. Tryvon was visiting his father’s fiancé while a neighbor called the police; Trifon was found suspicious. Just minutes later, this neighbor shot Trevor in the chest. Supposedly it was self-defense. His killing sparked protests across the country. The Black Lives Matter movement was born.

The mini series is not currently available on any streaming service provider.


Whose streets?

In 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed in Missouri after running into a police officer and leaving him lying on the street for hours. This was followed by a vigil for Michael and protests against racist police violence. These matters deteriorated when the fully armed National Guard emerged and a curfew was imposed. The documentary is narrated through interviews with activists who gave everything they had for this movement and fought for their right to life.

Whose streets? It can be bought and rented on Amazon.


“Knights of Freedom”

In 1961, more than 400 Americans dared to conduct an experiment whose purpose was to shake people. The self-proclaimed “Freedom Knights” challenged the norms of the racially segregated society of the time by traveling in multi-ethnic groups. They sat where they pleased on buses and trains and demanded unimpeded access to train station restaurants and waiting rooms, even in the Deep South where such behavior was illegal by law. Their peaceful protests were met with extreme violence.

The movie is not available on any streaming service but can be purchased or rented from Amazon.


«16 shots»

17-year-old Laquan MacDonald was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in 2014. The film is about the crime and the police investigation – and possible cover-up – that followed. The policeman who fired 16 shots at the young man was convicted of second-degree murder.

“16 Shots” is currently not available online.


«LA 92»

In 1992, protests broke out in Los Angeles after police brutality against Rodney King. Four police officers beat King while he was lying defenseless on the ground, and he was taken to hospital. Despite the video footage of the incident, the perpetrators were acquitted in court. After the ruling, protests and street battles erupted in Los Angeles that lasted six days and claimed 50 lives.

“LA 92” is available on Disney Plus.


“Girls of Darkness”

Dark Girls looks at the prejudices faced by black women. The film explores the roots of class, racism, and low self-esteem. Many women share their personal stories, addressing deeply rooted beliefs and attitudes in society that fair skin is considered beautiful and desirable.

Documents can be purchased on DVD, and are not currently available online.


“strong island”

In Mighty Island, Yance Ford investigates the murder of his brother, William Ford Jr. An African American was shot and killed by a white 19-year-old in 1992 after an altercation. Ford entered the workshop without a weapon, but the police still treated Ford as a perpetrator rather than a victim in the investigation. The shooter was not convicted. Jans said that William Ford Jr. became the prime suspect in his murder case.

The documentary is available on Netflix.


Time: The Calif Browder Story.

Calif Browder was a young African American who spent three years in prison without ever being convicted. Accused of stealing a backpack. Browder has been repeatedly abused by corrupt prison officials.

The charges were eventually dropped, and Browder committed suicide two years after his release. The six-part documentary provides an insight into the psychological, physical and sexual abuse suffered by the 16-year-old in prison.

The documentary can be watched on Netflix.


“Court Procedures in the Media”

The documentary (English title: ‘Trial by the Media: 41 Shots’) tells the story of the murder of Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo by New York City police officers in 1999. He was shot 41 times while trying to lock down his home – Diallo was unarmed. Netflix examines the impact of media coverage on society’s perception of court cases that followed the crime.

Trial By Media: 41 Shots is a Netflix documentary.


What documentaries about racism can you recommend?

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