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Celebrate Black Excellence With Our MLK Day Binge-Watch Guide

Javicia Leslie as Batwoman

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday that honors the civil rights icon who inspired countless people across the globe. This year’s celebration takes place only 2 days before Inauguration Day, where Kamala Harris will make history as the first woman of color to serve as vice president. Of course, the journey to get here has been fraught with violence, anger, and sedition from Republicans determined not only to undermine our duly elected officials but also drain the joy and relief we feel at a competent new administration.

It’s already been quite a year, and we’re not even a month into 2021. So not only is MLK Day a day of reflection and activism, it also provides a much needed day to process where we’ve been and where we’re going. This weekend also delivers some quality film and television that celebrates Black excellence and artistry. Here are our top picks to tune into this holiday weekend and beyond.

Batwoman

Javicia Leslie makes history as the first Black bisexual woman to headline a superhero series. Taking over the mantle from Ruby Rose, Leslie will play original character Ryan Wilder, who takes on the Batwoman persona to fight crime and save Gotham City.

Leslie said of the role, “I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.” Fans were especially excited to see Leslie don a new costume which features textured Black hair. She later said, “I love the fact that Ryan is becoming her own Batwoman — it’s her style, her swag, and her moment, … I felt it was important that viewers could tell by the silhouette that Batwoman was a Black girl. With the form-fitting suit and beautiful Afro, we definitely nailed it!”

Batwoman premieres on the CW on January 17, and will be streaming on the CW app.

One Night in Miami

One of the most highly anticipated films of 2021, One Night in Miami follows a fictionalized evening in 1964, where Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) meet in Miami to celebrate Ali’s title win over Sonny Liston. The film, which has received early rave reviews, was directed by Oscar winner and Watchmen star Regina King, making her feature film directorial debut. Based on the stage play by Kemp Powers (Star Trek: Discovery, Soul), One Night in Miami promises to be a serious awards season contender.

One Night in Miami is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

MLK/FBI

Acclaimed documentary editor and director Sam Pollard (Why We Hate, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me) returns with this searing look at the FBI’s history of surveilling and harassing Martin Luther King Jr., and J. Edgar Hoover’s racist obsession with tearing down the civil rights icon. The documentary features restored footage of King, and ponders what secrets lie in the FBI’s classified recordings of King, which are due to be unsealed in 2027.

MLK/FBI is currently streaming to rent or buy on all platforms.

Outside the Wire

Anthony Mackie (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) and Damson Idris (Snowfall) star in this science fiction action film about a disgraced drone pilot who partners with an android officer to stop the end of the world. Netflix has delivered some solid action romps (Extraction, The Old Guard) and this film looks like an entertaining popcorn flick.

Outside the Wire is currently streaming on Netflix.

What are you watching tonight? Let us know in the comments!

(featured image: The CW)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.