On Juneteenth, the United States’ newest national holiday, we remember and celebrate the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. Juneteenth is often referred to as America’s second Independence Day, as it commemorates the issuance of General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865. This order freed all of the remaining slaves in Texas, including those in Galveston—the last city to surrender during the Civil War. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, the issuance of General Order No. 3 is considered to be the official end of slavery in the U.S. nationwide.
If you’re looking for resources to share with patrons in honor of Juneteenth on the history of slavery and the struggle for freedom and justice for African Americans, Infobase can help. Not only do we have an entire database devoted to African-American history with an abundance of editorially curated content on the topic, but our streaming video collections—including Access Video On Demand for public libraries and Films On Demand for colleges and universities—also have a vast amount of content on African-American history, from the inception of African-American slavery during the colonial period to the civil rights battles of today.
Below, we’ve highlighted just some of the videos on our On Demand platforms you can share with researchers who want to learn more about these topics. NOTE: The titles appear on both Access Video On Demand and Films On Demand unless otherwise noted. Some of these titles contain mature themes or content; viewer discretion is advised.
Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches (HBO®, 2022)
Inspired by David Blight’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography, this documentary brings to life the words of our country’s most famous anti-slavery activist. Actors Nicole Beharie, Colman Domingo, Jonathan Majors, Denzel Whitaker and Jeffrey Wright draw from five of Douglass’ legendary speeches, to represent a different moment in the tumultuous history of 19th century America. (Available in the U.S. & Canada.)
Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom (PBS, 2022)
Go beyond the legend and meet the woman who repeatedly risked her life and freedom to liberate others from slavery. One of the greatest freedom fighters in U.S. history, Tubman was an Underground Railroad conductor, a Civil War scout, nurse, and spy. Directed by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson and Nicole London, the film is narrated by Emmy® Award-winner Alfre Woodard. (Available in the U.S. & Canada through Films On Demand.)
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song (PBS Series, 2021)
Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., this series chronicles the rich history of an institution at the heart of the African-American experience. Beginning with enslavement, traveling through emancipation, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the civil rights movement, and ending in the present-day, Henry takes viewers on a journey through time, focusing on the key events, charismatic figures, political debates, and musical traditions that have shaped, and been shaped by, the Black Church. The series also explores the complexity of these spaces of worship at a time when many believe it is at a crossroads. A chorus of leading scholars, ministers, and cultural influencers who grew up in the Black Church will weigh in and give meaning to events past and present. (Available in the U.S. & Canada.)
Becoming Frederick Douglass (PBS, 2022)
Discover how a man born into slavery became one of the most influential voices for democracy in U.S. history. A gifted writer and charismatic orator, it is estimated that more Americans heard Douglass speak than any other 19th-century figure—Black or white. Directed by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson and Nicole London, the film features the voice of actor Wendell Pierce as Douglass. (Available in the U.S. & Canada through Films On Demand.)
Reconstruction: America After the Civil War (PBS Series, 2019)
Renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the definitive history of the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself amidst profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change. This series tells the real story of Reconstruction, one of America’s most overlooked, misunderstood, and misrepresented periods of history. It honors the struggle of the African Americans who fought their way out of slavery and challenged the nation to live up to the founding ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality. (Available in the U.S. & Canada.)
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (HBO®, 2019)
This feature documentary follows Bryan Stevenson—lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative—through his experiences as a capital defense attorney and advocate for community-based reform. Interweaving watershed moments from Stevenson’s cases with insights from his clients, colleagues and members of his family, the film focuses on Stevenson’s life and career—particularly his indictment of the U.S. criminal-justice system for its role in codifying modern systemic racism—and tracks the intertwined histories of slavery, lynching, segregation and mass incarceration. (Available in the U.S. & Canada.)
400 Years Taking the Knee (3DD Series, 2021)
This two-part special begins with the first years of the European slave trade but fundamentally focuses on the individuals who fought and struggled against colonialism, slavery, and their legacies. Insisting on the importance of individuals and their ability to resist historical conditions—to shoulder burdens and to break down walls— it covers five centuries of intertwining British and American histories. (Available in the U.S. & Canada.)
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (PBS, 2017)
Black colleges and universities are a haven for Black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries and have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities examines the impact these institutions have had on American history, culture, and national identity. (Available in the U.S. & Canada.)
Slave Trade (Finding Your Roots Series, PBS, 2020)
In the Finding Your Roots series, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. weaves together genealogical detective work with cutting-edge DNA analysis to trace the ancestry of a diverse array of trailblazing public figures. In this episode, Henry journeys with film director Ava DuVernay, actor S. Epatha Merkerson, and musician Questlove to the unexpected places where their ancestors were scattered by slavery, upending their notions of African-American history—and their own family trees. (Available in the U.S. & Canada.)
All Men Are Created Equal? The Founding Fathers’ Views on Slavery (Untold: America Explained Series, Makematic, 2021)
Untold is a collection of short, compelling history videos and animations designed to engage new audiences in a new conversation and shine a light on the stories that don’t always make it into the classroom and question what we think we know about those that do. This episode asks: What did the Founding Fathers really think of slavery? And how did that impact the laws they created?
American History’s Biggest Fibs: The American Civil War (BBC, 2019)
This is the second part of a three-part series where British historian Lucy Worsley takes off on an American road trip to uncover the legends, myths, and fibs that have been woven together to create the inspiring national story of the United States of America. Here, Lucy debunks the myths behind the American Civil War. At the Lincoln Memorial, she explains that the Civil War pitted the “free” North against slave-owning Confederate states in the South, but Abraham Lincoln’s personal views and the behavior of his troops toward African Americans were not as noble as they appeared. In the South, Lucy learns how history was rewritten in a bid to downplay the evils of slavery and how a 1915 blockbuster film about the Civil War relaunched the Ku Klux Klan. She visits the Georgia countryside and discovers that Gone with the Wind‘s technicolor depiction of the old South and contented slaves was part of a continued effort to whitewash history.
What Is Access Video On Demand?
Access Video On Demand streaming video offers public libraries an expansive, patron-friendly collection of thousands of high-quality videos that complement and enhance your library’s content offerings. We bring your patrons exceptional content from around the world that they may never have had the opportunity to see: from Oscar®, Emmy®, and Peabody Award-winning documentaries, to how-to programs that make life easier and richer, top-quality performances spanning the arts, biographies of history-makers past and present, a variety of TV shows and movies, and more.
What Is Films On Demand?
Films On Demand is a multidisciplinary, research-focused streaming video service providing unlimited access to thousands of videos, all carefully curated with a single guiding principle: provide every academic department on campus with the most essential video content for their field of study. At Films On Demand, we know that content matters. Our video library has been assembled not just with a focus on volume, but also with a discerning eye for quality and relevance. Plus, Films On Demand‘s platform provides users with the content, tools, speed, and performance that today’s online experience demands.
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About the Authors
Patrice Keville (she/her) has been Proofreader/Coordinator at Infobase for more than eight years. Previously, she was Online Editor at Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News and an Assistant Editor at the H.W. Wilson Company, where she coedited the Senior High Core Collection and Public Library Core Collection: Nonfiction. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Matthew.
Sharon Golan is Director of Content Licensing at Infobase. With over a decade of experience creating and licensing materials for the education market, she has a keen eye for high-quality, compelling content and enjoys working on films that employ this dynamic art form to educate and enrich audiences.