2020 WAS LIT

In the most difficult year in recent memory, our Black literati provided much-needed escapes in the form of the written word—from memoirs that made us feel seen to a best-selling romantic novel that reminds us love is never a wasted emotion. Here are our favorite books of 2020.

  1. Before his death in 2019, Elijah Cummings detailed how he became a man deeply committed to community in We’re Better Than This (Harper, $28.99).
  2. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson investigates America’s entrenched, race-based caste system in her deeply researched book, Caste (Random House, $32).
  3. Hugo Award recipient N.K. Jemisin kicks off a new fantasy trilogy with The City We Became (Orbit, $28), set in New York City as it braces to face an attack by an alien force.
  4. In James McBride’s latest work, Deacon King Kong (Riverhead, $28), an ornery old deacon ends up with a target on his back after he shoots a drug dealer.
  5. A woman on the verge of turning 68 is dealt a life-changing blow, and must lean on her sister circle to pull through, in Terry McMillan’s It’s Not All Downhill From Here (Ballantine, $28).
  6. After twin sisters run away from their Southern childhood home at 16, they assume two different racial identities in Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half (Riverhead , $27).
  7. For her sophomore effort, Transcendent Kingdom (Knopf, $27.95), Yaa Gyasi zeroes in on a neuroscience scholar who seeks to understand her family as she studies addiction and depression.
  8. What happens when you notice your Black neighbors disappearing and you don’t think the cause is gentrification? Find out in Alyssa Cole’s thriller When No One Is Watching (William Morrow, $16.99).
  9. Fresh off her Royal Holiday, Jasmine Guillory’s Party of Two (Berkley, $26) follows a Black lawyer about to start her own firm when she meets a handsome junior senator, who just so happens to be White.
  10. U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey recounts the heartbreaking 1985 murder of her mother by her ex-husband in Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir (Ecco, $27.99).
  11. The Death of Vivek Oji (Riverhead, $27), by Akwaeke Emezi, explores the life and death of a young Nigerian man who secretly identified as a girl during childhood.
  12. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick (Amistad, $25.99), a collection of writings (some previously unpublished) by Zora Neale Hurston, centers mostly on characters in her hometown of Eatonville, Florida.

91 movies and TV shows to stream for Black History Month

It will never not be sadly funny that, of course, America designated its shortest month to be the one honoring Black History This year, however, it’s less sadly funny than just plain sad.

Ever since the uprisings last summer, set off by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, structural racism has been part of the national discourse like never before. Some folks are just waking up to its insidious, rampant nature; others feel alternately vindicated by this new awareness and betrayed by its tardiness; and others still have merely doubled down on denying that the problem even exists.
In the months since the George Floyd protests led President Trump to call Black Lives Matter “toxic propaganda,” Black voters came out in full force to elect a new president . . . only to see a coalition of white supremacists attempt to reverse that outcome by force. That they failed is less a cause for celebration than a reason to reflect on why they attempted their coup in the first place.

In any case, it is at a somber, introspective moment in American history that the country finds itself welcoming Black History Month this year. To make the month a bit more nourishing for everyone stuck at home, Fast Company has scoured the streaming services for a bounty of entertaining and often enlightening films and TV shows that showcase either Black stories or the talents of Black creators.
Have a look below at 91 movies and TV series to stream during this poignant Black History Month.
Fictional movies and shows rooted in history
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix
Da Five Bloods on Netflix
Mudbound on Netflix
Roots on HBO Max

Documentaries that tell Black stories
Time on Amazon Prime
I Am Not Your Negro on Netflix
What Happened, Miss Simone? on Netflix
Becoming, on Netflix, takes Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir from page to screen.
LA 92 on Netflix and Burn Motherf**ker, Burn! on Amazon Prime both document the 1992 uprisings in Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict that year.
The Last Dance on Netflix
Whitney: Can I Be Me on Amazon Prime
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child on Amazon Prime
Mr. Dynamite: The Rise and Fall of James Brown on Amazon Prime
Whose Streets, on Netflix, documents the efforts of Black Lives Matter activists to bring national attention to the police killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali on Amazon Prime
Anita: Speaking Truth to Power on Amazon Prime
All In: The Fight for Democracy, on Amazon Prime, chronicles Stacey Abrams’s fight against voter suppression in her native Georgia, a fight that culminated in Georgia going blue in the 2020 election.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday on Hulu starting February 26
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami on Hulu
Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Netflix
Being Serena on HBO Max
Original movies and series from Black creators
I May Destroy You, on HBO Max, is a belated breakthrough for creator/star Michaela Coel, who is also behind the underrated gem Chewing Gum, which is also coming to HBO Max on February 1.
Moonlight on Netflix
His House on Netflix
Soul Food on Amazon
Chi-Raq on Amazon
Selah and the Spades on Amazon
Middle of Nowhere, on Netflix as of February 11, is Ava DuVernay’s 2012 film about a woman dropping out of medical school to help her incarcerated husband.
Sylvie’s Love on Amazon
Sorry to Bother You on Hulu is a constantly surprising surrealist critique of capitalism, from Boots Riley in his directorial debut.
Eve’s Bayou on Hulu
If Beale Street Could Talk on Hulu
Clemency on Hulu
Insecure on HBO Max
Lovecraft Country on HBO Max
The Book of Eli on HBO Max
Us on HBO Max
Drumline on HBO Max
Atlanta on Hulu
The Forty Year-Old Version on Netflix
Dear White People on Netflix
Topical standup and sketch comedy
Chris Rock: Total Blackout: The Tamborine Extended Cut on Netflix
Classic sitcoms, old and new
Sister, Sister on Netflix
Watchmen, on HBO Max, is a cultural powerhouse that audaciously grounds the classic graphic novel in a new, racially relevant context. It also provided a prescient history lesson on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre nine months before a planned Trump rally brought it to the forefront of the national conversation.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on HBO Max
Biopics based on Black stories
Fruitvale Station on Netflix
When They See Us, on Netflix, is Ava DuVernay’s powerful, comprehensive 2019 miniseries about the Central Park 5.
Self-Made: Madam CJ Walker on Netflix
Loving, on Netflix, is an Oscar-nominated dramatization of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, that invalidated state laws forbidding interracial marriage.
Dolemite Is My Name on Netflix
Hard Lessons on Netflix
Detroit on Hulu
Nina on Hulu
Judas and the Black Messiah on HBO Max, due on February 12, tells the incredible true story of Fred Hampton (played by Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya), a Black Panther leader murdered by police, and the informant (played by Lakeith Stanfield) who helped them do it.
Just Mercy on HBO Max
The Hurricane on HBO Max
Malcolm X on HBO Max
Barry, on Netflix, is not HBO’s thespian hitman series but rather a film about the adventures of a collegiate Barack Obama.
Harriet on HBO Max
Get On Up on HBO Max
Ray on HBO Max
Confirmation on HBO Max
Bessie on HBO Max

Other movies and shows that tell Black stories
The Princess and the Frog, on Netflix, marks the introduction of Disney’s first-ever Black princess.
Pose, on Netflix, is the acclaimed series about ballroom culture in the 1980s, with a cast that actually reflects the Black trans originators who created it, while Legendary, on HBO Max, is a reality competition series that reveals how the culture flourishes to this day.
American Son on Netflix
Coming to America, on Amazon Prime, not to be confused with the sequel, Coming 2 America, due on Prime in March.
Fast Color on Amazon Prime
Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History on Netflix
Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices on Netflix (Common)
The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle on Amazon Prime
Black Earth Rising on Netflix is a U.K.-set series about the prosecution of an African militia leader in the International Criminal Court. It’s another acting showcase for Michaela Coel, which originally arrived in between the two series she created herself.
Black Boy Joy on HBO Max
Purple Rain on HBO Max
The Princess and the Frog, on Netflix, marks the introduction of Disney’s first-ever Black princess.

For One Night in 1965, the Supremes Brought the Two Detroits Together The queens of Motown play the posh suburbs.

It’s a vision of two Detroits that have mostly faded now — the social set born of the American auto industry’s vast wealth and the galvanizing magic of ’60s Motown — together in a room.

In June 1965, the Supremes, one of America’s biggest and most glamorous groups, performed at a debutante party at the Country Club of Detroit in Grosse Pointe, Mich., the posh all-white enclave just northeast of the city.

It was the debutante party of Christy Cole Wilson, and The New York Times pictures of the event tell a layered story of two groups connected, at least for the evening, by the music of that time and place.

The three elegant darlings of Detroit, led by the 21-year-old Diana Ross, serenade a room of finely attired guests, many of practically the same age. But between the groups were also the realities of race and class — the distance between Grosse Pointe and the Brewster projects where the Supremes grew up, 10 miles and several worlds away. The Times covered the lavish event in avid detail. “It took three days, hundreds of fresh blue irises, thousands of little Italian lights and hundreds of thousands of yellow plastic flowers to turn the club into a French garden,” the story enthused. “Whole walls had disappeared behind Austrian silk panels of gold and mirrors before the 750 guests arrived.”

Not until the eighth paragraph did the story mention that “when they were not dancing and being entertained by a rock ‘n’ roll group called the Supremes, the Wilsons and their guests were polishing off 20 cases of French champagne, attempting to create a liquor shortage (the plot failed), and heaping their plates with food from an abundantly stocked buffet table.”

The trio hardly needed an identifier at that point. Between August 1964 and June 1965, the Supremes had five No. 1 singles, including “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again,” which had gone to the top of the charts just six days before this party. Which is exactly why Ms. Wilson’s parents hired them.

“Everyone had very glamorous deb parties when I was growing up,” said Ms. Wilson Hofmann, 72, who now lives in Bristol, R.I.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/arts/supremes-photos-motown-grosse-pointe.html