Playlist: Black Protest & Social Movements

The following playlist uses media as a lens to explore the history, underlying causes, politics, and representation of Black protest and social movements in U.S. history. The playlist prompts us to consider Black protest in the context of a 400 year history, dating back to the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the US colonies in 1619 and continuing through today. The examples explore how various forms of media have portrayed and contextualized these movements and the struggles and violence that precipitated them, as well as how activists and creators use media to advance their message and cause.

This playlist is not intended to provide a comprehensive accounting of Black protest and struggle; rather, the examples have been selected to encourage critical discussion around various dimensions, tensions, and opportunities in media representations of social unrest and racial justice. The media is organized by genre in order to explore the ways different types of media have represented and framed protest and violence against Black communities. Some of the examples underscore divisions and silos among groups, while others focus on inclusion and unity. Examples also highlight different historical moments to show cycles, patterns, and departures in media representations–how we see the same power structures and systems reinforced or challenged over time.  These varied portrayals in fiction and nonfiction media ask us to think about the roots of protest–the factors that instigate it–as well as how protest is castigated and valued in the context of social, political, and cultural change.

Note: Given the subject matter, you may want to warn students that many of these media examples contain or reference violence and other possibly triggering content.

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Documentary and News

Films, television, docudrama

Music Video



User-Generated and Grassroots Media

your turn!

Get inspired by the media and issues you’ve been exposed to. Think about and create a media project that can serve as a piece of activism or protest. Alternately, comment on the representations of protests and social movements in media/social media you regularly view.

Stuck? Take a look at our DIY section for ideas!


We are adding a special resource section to this playlist. You can find it on the PDF above.

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