Entertainment

13 Movies & TV Shows To Stream For Free This Juneteenth — From 'Watchmen' To 'Selma'

Mark Hill/HBO

Juneteenth, which is commemorated on June 19, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It's also a time to spotlight and uplift Black voices, and one way to do that is to watch the free movies and TV shows streaming for Juneteenth this year. In light of the Black Lives Matter protests happening all over the country, companies like HBO, Netflix, and Warner Bros. studio are all offering programs and films that explore the Black experience in America, many of which also come from Black creators.

While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is continuing to make celebrating holidays complicated, one small way that everyone can mark Juneteenth is by watching movies and TV shows from Black storytellers. Some of the titles available this year delve into the difficult, but important topics of police brutality, the need for prison reform, and more. However, viewers should also seek out stories of Black joy that are being made available for free on streaming sites, like HBO Max's Legendary and HBO's The Black Lady Sketch Show.

In addition to select episodes of those two shows, HBO is making several of their best movies and series available via HBO.com and on demand beginning June 19. Most notably, all nine episodes of Watchmen will be available from June 19-21. Other titles that will be outside of the premium channel's pay wall for the holiday include Being Serena, Bessie, Whoopi Goldberg presents Moms Mabley, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, United Skates, Jerrod Carmichael's Home Videos, Lil’ Rel Live In Crenshaw, The Apollo, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency S1/ E1, The Shop S2/E1 + S2/E6, Treme S1/E1, and True Detective S3/E1, per HBO's official press release.

Here are 13 movies and TV shows streaming for free this Juneteenth.

'Watchmen'

Set in an alternate history timeline, Watchmen is a timely series about a masked vigilante played by Regina King. The show is full of superheroes and wonderfully weird sci-fi touches like squid showers. But it also opens with the very real Tulsa massacre of 1921 and delves deep into the corruption of the police.

'Taste The Nation'

On her Twitter, TV host Padma Lakshmi revealed that Hulu is making the Gullah Geechee history & cuisine episode of her new travel and cooking series Taste the Nation free on YouTube, so that anyone can watch it, with or without a subscription.

'Legendary' — Series Premiere
Zach Dilgard/HBO Max

The underground ballroom community takes center stage in HBO Max's competition series Legendary. The premiere episode is currently streaming for free on YouTube, and it's also a terrific show to watch this Pride month since it celebrates Black LGBTQ+ voices and experiences.

'Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas'

Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas combines the talk show and documentary formats to explore the systemic issues facing Americans. Cenac does more than expose the problems, though, he also outlines ways to change the country for the better. The entire series will be streaming for free on HBO.com over the weekend.

'Notes From The Field'

Pulitzer Prize nominee Anna Deavere Smith turned her one-woman show Notes From the Field into a searing exploration of America's school-to-prison pipeline for HBO. In the film, Smith dramatizes the real life accounts of students, parents, and teachers who have witnessed firsthand how the current system pushes underprivileged students to go directly from school to prison.

'13th'

Ava DuVernay's Emmy Award winning documentary 13th reveals the desperate need for prison reform in America. Through interviews with scholars and activists, the filmmaker dissects the systemic failings and racial inequality that has led to America's high incarceration rate. Netflix has made the doc free to everyone via YouTube.

'Selma'

Another DuVernay project, Selma, chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. The film stars David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, and Common, and it's available free to rent on YouTube, Google Play, Amazon, and more, courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

'Black Panthers' (1970)

Agnès Varda's powerful short documentary film Black Panthers provides a snapshot of the Oakland demonstrations that erupted after Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton was imprisoned. You can watch the short now on The Criterion Collection website.

'The Hate U Give'

Based on Angie Thomas' 2017 book of the same name, The Hate U Give focuses on Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a young woman who witnesses her best friend being shot by a police officer. The powerful and timely film is available to rent for free courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

'Southside With You'

This joyful 2016 film tells the story of Barack and Michelle Obama's first date. The romantic Southside with You stars Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers as the young Obamas. You can watch it now on YouTube.

'Burn Motherf*cker, Burn!'

Showtime has made the 2017 documentary Burn Motherf*cker, Burn! free on YouTube for the month of June. The timely doc looks back on the 1992 Los Angeles protests that were sparked by the acquittal of four police officers in the beating of Rodney King.

'Just Mercy'

On Jun. 2, Warner Bros. Pictures announced they would be making Just Mercy available to rent for free, tweeting, "We believe in the power of story. #JustMercy is one resource we can offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society." The powerful movie stars Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, the real life co-founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and is currently available to stream on various platforms in the U.S.

'Bessie'

Starring Queen Latifah, HBO's 2015 biopic Bessie explores the life of legendary Blues singer Bessie Smith. The movie is not only a great way to get to introduce yourself to Smith's music, it also happens to be one of Queen Latifah's best performances.

Just because you might not be able to leave your house doesn't mean you can't celebrate, and support Black artists while doing it.