Black History Month 2023: specials and docs to watch

February is Black History Month, and most networks and platforms have programming and specials highlighting various black celebrities, academics, athletes, singers and history.

Whether you’re more interested in looking at sports or science, there’s something for everyone. In addition to specials and documentaries, shows such as “Good Morning America” will have segments dedicated to Black History Month for the duration of February, and streaming platforms such as Hulu and Disney+ have created central hubs to find all related content, including Hulu’s “Black Stories Always” hub, and Disney’s “Celebrate Black Stories” collection. 

Here’s a rundown of several must-watch specials, shows and documentaries that are airing and streaming this month. 

“Black Travel Across America” 

In this documentary, host Martinique Lewis will go on a coast-to-coast road trip to visit historically listed “Green Book” locations. Published annually from 1936 to 1966, Harlem- based postal worker Victor Hugo Green’s travel guidebook provided a list of hotels, restaurants and service stations all across the country that served African American patrons safety. (This was dramatized in the 2018 movie, “Green Book”.) This series explores the historic landmarks that are still standing. 

Where to watch: Feb. 6 on National Geographic (10 p.m.); Feb. 7 on Hulu; Feb. 24 on Disney+.

“Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Angela Bassett in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" looking at the sea wearing a head piece.
Angela Bassett in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Evere

Filmmaker Ryan Coogler’s second “Black Panther” superhero film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” is now streaming on Disney+. The Marvel franchise also has a tie-in “making of” documentary that takes a look behind the scenes, featuring interviews with the cast and crew. This film was especially fraught to make, since it had to adjust to the real-life tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman. Co-star Angela Bassett has earned a “Best Supporting Actress” Oscar nomination for her role. 

Where to watch: Feb. 8 on Disney+.

“Star Chasers of Senegal”

A man standing next to a telascope looking at the sky.
An astronomer in Senegal in the special, “Star Chasers of Senegal.”
Courtesy of © 2022 Terra Mater

This special takes a look at the heritage and future of African astronomy. It follows a group of astronomers in Senegal, West Africa, as they attempt a high-stakes observation of a distant asteroid that’s important to a NASA mission.  

Where to watch: Feb. 8 on “NOVA” (9 p.m., PBS).

“Cassius X: Becoming Ali”

Muhammad Ali punching a punching bag.
Muhammad Ali.
Bettmann Archive

A documentary chronicling the life of Muhammad Ali, from his career beginnings in 1959 when the young boxer, Cassius Clay, started down the road of achieving his dream to become the World Heavyweight Champion. It also covers his spiritual side as he found a new religion and the name for which he’d become famous.The film includes interviews with people who were in Ali’s life: Malcolm X’s oldest daughter, Attallah Shabazz; R&B singer Dee Dee Sharp, Ali’s girlfriend in the early ’60s; and his friend, boxing broadcaster Jim Lampley. 

Where to watch: Feb. 20 (9 p.m.) on Smithsonian Channel.

“Black+ Iconic: Style Gods” 

Billy Porter wearing a suit posing for a photo.
Billy Porter.
Getty Images

Billy Porter hosts this documentary special celebrating black icons, pioneers and activists and their influence and legacies in the fields of music, dance, fashion and film. 

Where to watch: BET, BET Her, BET+, and VH1, Feb. 18 (8 p.m.). 

“Afrofuturism: The Origin Story”

Angela Bassett wearing a silver headpiece looking serious.
Angela Bassett’s aesthetic in the “Black Panther” movies is an example of Afrofuturism.
©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Evere

Through a mixture of archival footage, roundtable discussion, and interviews, this special covers the Afrofuturism, the genre-spanning cultural and artistic movement. Many entries in the genre are sci-fi and fantasy, such as Marvel’s “Black Panther” films. 

Where to watch: Feb. 6 on Smithsonian Channel (10 p.m.). 

Lowndes County And the Road to Black Power

First-person accounts and archival footage tell the story of how the Civil Rights Movement impacted a rural, impoverished county with a vicious history of racist terrorism — and how the local movement and young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizers fought for voting rights and for Black Power.

Where to watch: Streaming on Peacock.

Black Stories Always

Hulu continues to shine a light on black stories and storytellers. This month’s programming slate includes the premiere of the third and finale season of “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” the final season of FX’s “Snowfall” and Onyx Collective’s “Bruiser,” among others.

Where to watch: Hulu.