I’ll never forget the excitement on my daughter’s face when she saw a Disney Princess that looked an awful like her. Never mind that Moana is Polynesian, and we are Black. It didn’t matter to her. She had long curly hair, brown skin, and big brown eyes. To her, they were just alike. The realization that representation matters continues to hit me time and time again. Like now, this same daughter is telling me she wants to be an actress. There are a lot of Black actors in movies and on TV, but am I giving her the chance to watch them? To see herself up on the big screen?
Something I’ve been working to do on this blog is really narrow my focus down to the main pinnacles. These are things I’m passionate about and want to share with you. Family and parenting are at the center, but diversity-related news and Disney are two other things I could talk all day about. It’s not often all of those things overlap but today they do. I’m going to share movies and to watch with your kids this month for Black History Month. And let’s be real, beyond.
I feel like I’ve been pretty good about keeping a diverse collection of children’s books on our shelves at home. I’ve even highlighted some of those here, and shared some books we like to read for Black History Month. But movies… I could probably be a little better with that. Especially since I have a little girl dreaming of being a Black actress herself.
I’ve compiled a list to get you started. You can search these movies on Disney Plus and add them to your watchlist for this month. Don’t have Disney+ yet? Sign up for your free trial here.
Movies to Watch on Disney+ During Black History Month & Beyond
When I spoke with my husband about how to compile this list we had a bit of a debacle deciding if it should be content around real Black History. Such as movies like The Ruby Bridges story. Or Remember the Titans. Or, if I should instead include fictional stories like Black Panther and Sister Act 2. And stories that maybe don’t involve American-Americans at all but Africans, Jamaicans, and Black people around the world. Movies like Cool Runnings, and Queen of Katwe. That are based on true stories but aren’t necessarily intertwined into Black (American) History.
As a parent wanting to give my kids a world view. And in general just wanting to show my kids more brown faces telling good stories on TV. I’ve decided to include all the movies in all of those categories. And since many of the stars in the film are Black actors from the US, I think it can count that way too, as being in the “Black films” genre.
I’m breaking these down into historical-based films (US and non US based); the popular must-see films; and then some hidden gems you may not have heard of. The nice thing about these being on Disney+ is though there may be some tough conversations and topics going on, it’s all family-friendly content.
Alright, let’s get this show on the road. And here’s a free PDF printable to fill out as you watch them all!
Historical Black Movies on Disney Plus
These are historical dramas that feature a majority Black cast. The first three are based on American history, and the last two feature Black stories from other countries.
Remember the Titans: The true story of a new African-American head football coach and his high school team on their first season as a team comprised as both black and white players. This is one of my all-time favorite movies and one I’m excited to watch with my kids for the first time this month.
Red Tails: Black Fighter Pilots get the chance to prove themselves during WWII.
Ruby Bridges: The story of bright 6-year-old Ruby Bridges. Chosen to be the first African-American to integrate her local New Orleans elementary school. She encounters the true ugliness of racism for the first time. But the love of her mother and father help her through this heroic struggle.
Glory Road: Coach Don Haskins takes a job at a small Texas University and decide he’s going to start the best players you can. Even when that means forming `history’s first all African-American lineup.
Queen of Katwe: A Ugandan girl’s life changes forever when she discovers she has an amazing talent for chess. This is one I love watching with and without my kids. A true inspiring story.
Cool Runnings: Based on a true story about four Jamaican athletes go to extremes to compete as bobsled racers at the Winter Olympics. A classic that we recently enjoyed with our kids. They loved it and really took to the inspirational message.
Must-See Movies on Disney Plus
These movies are blockbuster hits, or movies that I think should have been. Not based on history but feature either a majority Black cast or the main character is Black.
The Princess and the Frog: A beautiful girl named Tiana has dreams of owning her own restaurant. This modern twist on a classic tale has music to get you all dancing and a story that’ll keep your kids captivated. This movie features Disney’s first Black princess.
Black Panther*: Marvel’s first movie all about a Black superhero, my personal favorite Marvel movie, and my kids’ first introduction to superheroes. If your kids are young or not used to action superhero movies you may want to watch it first to see if it’s too intense for them. But my oh my it’s a beautiful film and earns its place on my must-see list. *This movie hits Disney+ on March 4th but is currently streaming on Netflix. We own it on DVD, streaming and all the things. It’s a must-see for sure.
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit: Woopie Goldberg back as Sister Mary Clarence heads to teach at a troubled inner-city school. The power of music helps inspire the classroom to new heights. I loved this movie growing up and can’t wait to see what my kids think.
The Haunted Mansion: Eddie Murphy stars as a real estate agent whose family comes face-to-face with ghosts in a creepy old mansion. They have to break the mansion of its age-old curse before the clock strikes 13.
Up, Up and Away: Ok, Black Panther may be the first Marvel movie with a black superhero as the star. But years earlier, this Disney Channel Original Movie features a whole family of black superheroes. Except Scott Marshall, anxiously awaiting his 14th birthday, and a sign of his special abilities.
The Color of Friendship: A white South African girl finds herself in a difficult situation when she is sent to spend a term with a Black family in America. This movie was made WAY before it’s time. But is great to get some tough conversations going with your kids. And oh yea, “the word” makes an appearance.
Jump In: A teenager is pressured by his father to become a boxer – but a local girl introduces him to the very different sport of rope-jumping.
Hidden Gems Featuring Black characters on Disney Plus
Most of the movies making this list aired as Disney Channel Original Movies when we were kids. They feature a majority Black cast, or the main character is Black.
College Road Trip: When an overachieving high schooler (played by Raven Symoné) decides to travel around the country to find her perfect college, her overprotective cop dad (played by Martin Lawrence) decides to tag along. A hilarious comedy the whole family will love.
The Cheetah Girls & The Cheetah Girls 2: Raven Symoné stars in this movie featuring four teens aiming to take the world by storm with their music. In the second movie they return for more adventures and head to Spain to participate in a music festival.
Let It Shine : A teenage rapper (played by Tyler James Williams) must use his musical talent to battle his nemesis and win the girl of his dreams.
Hounded: A teenager (played by Tahj Mowry) ends up being hounded by a well-groomed and seemingly cute and tiny dog that actually turns out to be a nightmare of a beast.
Twitches and Twitches Too: Black witches? Heck yea! Two teen witches (played by Tia and Tamera Mowry) were separated at birth and adopted by two different families. They meet on their 21st birthday and must use their powers to save the world in which they were born. Where their birth mother still lives.
Life-Size 2: Grace Manning, the confident and funny CEO of Marathon Toys, a huge toy company started by her mother that is most famous for manufacturing the iconic Eve doll (played by Tyra Banks). Grace is also a hot mess in the middle of her quarter-life crisis and realizing that she is in over her head as CEO.
Jett Jackson: The Movie: Jett (played by Lee Thomson Young (RIP)) decides to quit Silverstone and lead a normal life. On the day of his last episode he is hit on the head with a prop and in his dream he is Silverstone. He is the only one who realizes that this is a dream.
The Proud Family Movie: In this animated movie Penny and her family are lured on an all expenses paid vacation where a mad scientist captures them. He refuses to let them go because Oscar won’t reveal his one of his secret Proud Snacks formulas.
The Poof Point: A bad experiment makes two inventors and younger and younger. Their teenage children (played by Tahj Mowry and Dawn Lewis) must work together to get their parents back to normal before they disappear forever.
Bonus Coming to Disney+
Look out for John Henry on American Legends. His short film is also on the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection. Netflix still has the streaming rights to this movie. If you are one of the lucky ones with both streaming services, that is definitely worth the watch. If not, hang tight. It should be arriving soon! Dying to see it before the month is up (I can’t blame you, it’s that good)? You can order it here.
I’m so excited for Soul to hit the big screen later this year. The first Disney-Pixar film to feature a black character as a main character (voiced by Jamie Foxx). I’ll update this list later when Soul arrives on Disney Plus. And writing much much more about Soul before then.
If I missed anything please let me know! I’d love to come back and add more films to this list. Even more I’d love to see Disney create more films like these, especially on the big screen.
Want more? We’ve got more where this came from. My girl Eryka also has a list on her blog including some of the blackest content on Disney+. Including TV shows and Disney Channel Original Movies. Along with that, she is showcasing black content creators all month long on Instagram in a feature she’s coined #BibbidiBobbidiBlack.
And if you are wondering how in the world I compiled this list, know that this is just a taste of my Disney+ checklist making magic. I have lots of free printable checklists for Pixar movies on Disney+, All of the Disney Animated movies in a checklist, and the Disney Animated movie sequels on Disney+ checklist.
Have you seen any or all of these movies? What’s your favorite and what do you want to watch next?