"When we say 'Black Lives Matter,' we also mean 'Black storytelling matters,'" said the streaming service

By Benjamin VanHoose
June 10, 2020 02:00 PM
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Kerry Washington AMERICAN SON
Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale in American Son (2019)
| Credit: David Lee/Netflix

Netflix is spotlighting its diverse library of content.

On Wednesday, the streaming service announced a new initiative to direct subscribers to a catalog of movies and TV shows that tackle "racial injustice and the Black experience in America." The Black Lives Matter collection includes documentaries, series and films made more accessible to viewers seeking new perspectives amid the movement.

"When we say 'Black Lives Matter,' we also mean 'Black storytelling matters,'" Netflix said in a statement. "With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time – we're starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience."

"When you log onto Netflix today," the announcement continued, "you will see a carefully curated list of titles that only begin to tell the complex and layered stories about racial injustice and Blackness in America."

Among the titles included in the collection are popular drama serie like Orange Is the New Black, Dear White People and Pose, as well as musical documentaries, including Beyoncé's Emmy-winning Homecoming and the Nina Simone profile What Happened, Miss Simone?

Movies featured in the grouping are 1992's Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington, Oscar winner for Best Picture Moonlight, and Spike Lee's 1986 film She's Gotta Have It, among others.

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Octavia Spencer's limited series about Madam C.J. Walker Self Made also made the list, as did former First Lady Michelle Obama's recent documentary Becoming.

Two Ava DuVernay releases are among the titles listed: her 2016 documentary 13th about the prison system, and her Emmy-winning limited series When They See Us from last year. Another film directed by DuVernay, 2014's Selma, has been made available to rent on demand.

Kerry Washington's American Son is also featured in the Black Lives Matter collection. The actress, 43, said she's glad the 2019 film — which centers on a concerned mother at a police station searching for her son — has found a new audience amid ongoing protests over police brutality.

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"It makes me so happy that people are watching #AmericanSon on @netflix to deepen their compassion and understanding," Washington wrote on Instagram last week. "My dream for this film was to spark conversations that would lead to change."

A number of hit movies about racial injustices that are not currently available on Netflix have also been made free to rent in order to reach more audiences.

Last year's Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, is temporarily available on-demand at no cost, as are The Hate U Give (2018), Ali (2001), Brian Banks (2018), The Secret Life of Bees (2008) and Antwone Fisher (2002).

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.