This week (February 1), Apple started its celebration of the rich history of Black storytellers and narratives past and present with a slate of Apple Original Films and series in the Black History Month room. Also, viewers can check out.a library of curated content by award-winning author, educator and dean of the Columbia Journalism School, Jelani Cobb, executive producer of Apple’s ‘Lincoln’s Dilemma’ docuseries.
An array of Black voices and stories are streaming on on Apple TV+, including the NAACP Image Award-nominated and AAFCA Awards Special Achievement Honoree ‘Emancipation,’ the feature film from Antoine Fuqua that tells the triumphant story of Whipped Peter (Will Smith); season three of NAACP Image Award-winning ‘Truth Be Told,’ in which true crime podcaster Poppy (Octavia Spencer) partners with an unorthodox school principal (Gabrielle Union) to bring media attention to the story of missing young Black girls; and documentaries including the NAACP Image Award-nominated films ‘Sidney’ and ‘Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues.’
Below, check out the full list of Apple Original series and films that are now available to global audiences in the Black History Month room on Apple TV+.
Five-time NAACP Image Awards nominee “Emancipation” tells the triumphant story of Peter (Will Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.
2. Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues
Two-time NAACP Image Awards nominee “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues” offers an intimate and revealing look at the world-changing musician, presented through a lens of archival footage and never-before-heard home recordings and personal conversations. This definitive documentary, directed by Sacha Jenkins, honors Armstrong’s legacy as a founding father of jazz, one of the first internationally known and beloved stars, and a cultural ambassador of the United States. The film shows how Armstrong’s own life spans the shift from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, and how he became a lightning rod figure in that turbulent era.
From producer Oprah Winfrey and directed by Reginald Hudlin, this two-time NAACP Image Awards nominated documentary honors the legendary Sidney Poitier and his legacy as an iconic actor, filmmaker and activist at the center of Hollywood and the Civil Rights Movement. Featuring candid interviews with Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Robert Redford, Lenny Kravitz, Barbra Streisand, Spike Lee and many more, the film is also produced by Derik Murray, in close collaboration with the Poitier family.
4. Swan Song
Set in the near future, “Swan Song” is a powerful, emotional journey told through the eyes of Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father who is expecting his second child with his wife Poppy (Naomie Harris). When Cameron is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. As Cameron grapples with whether or not to alter his family’s fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined. Written and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Benjamin Cleary, “Swan Song” explores how far we will go, and how much we’re willing to sacrifice, to make a happier life for the people we love.
5. The Banker
Inspired by true events, “The Banker” centers on revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racist establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Along with Garrett’s wife Eunice (Nia Long), they train a working class white man, Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult), to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire – while Garrett and Morris pose as a janitor and a chauffeur. Their success ultimately draws the attention of the federal government, which threatens everything the four have built. The drama is directed by George Nolfi (“The Adjustment Bureau”) and produced by Joel Viertel. Brad Feinstein produced under his Romulus Entertainment banner, along with producers Nolfi, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Baker, David Lewis Smith and Anthony Mackie. The executive producers are Joseph F. Ingrassia, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Greenfield, David Gendron and Ali Jazayeri. “The Banker” is written by Niceole Levy, George Nolfi, David Lewis Smith and Stan Younger from a story by David Lewis Smith, Stan Younger and Brad Caleb Kane.
6. Truth Be Told (Season 3)
From acclaimed writer, showrunner and executive producer Nichelle Tramble Spellman, “Truth Be Told” is an NAACP Image Award-winning drama that offers a unique glimpse into America’s obsession with true crime podcasts and challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage. In season three, Poppy (Octavia Spencer), frustrated by the lack of media attention for several young missing Black girls, teams with an unorthodox principal (Gabrielle Union) to keep the victims’ names in the public eye while chasing down leads to a suspected sex trafficking ring that may have ensnared them.
Inspired by NBA superstar Kevin Durant’s experiences, “Swagger” explores the world of youth basketball, and the players, their families and coaches who walk the fine line between dreams and ambition, and opportunism and corruption. Off the court, the show reveals what it’s like to grow up in America.
8. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
“The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey” stars Samuel L. Jackson as Ptolemy Grey, an ailing man forgotten by his family, by his friends, and by even himself. Suddenly left without his trusted caretaker and on the brink of sinking even deeper into a lonely dementia, Ptolemy is assigned to the care of orphaned teenager Robyn, played by Dominique Fishback. When they learn about a treatment that can restore Ptolemy’s dementia-addled memories, it begins a journey toward shocking truths about the past, present and future.
9. They Call Me Magic
For global sports icon Earvin Johnson, “Magic” has many meanings. It’s the sparkle of his megawatt smile and dazzling style of play that forever changed the game of basketball. It’s the magnetic connection that led him to the love of his life. It’s the shock of an HIV diagnosis that he transformed from grief into triumph — shifting global dialogue about the disease and overcoming its staggering odds. It’s his transcendence from sports superstar to business titan, blazing new trails for former athletes and revolutionizing the way corporate America does business in Black communities. Featuring intimate interviews with Magic and an all-star lineup, “They Call Me Magic” charts the cinematic life of one of the biggest cultural icons of our era with unprecedented access in a definitive four-part documentary series.
10. The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball
A powerful docuseries about an NBA hopeful determined to take control of his journey. Makur Maker was a five-star NBA prospect headed to the draft — until an unexpected detour led him to Howard University. This inspiring docuseries follows Makur’s journey and his determination to rewrite his story with the help of his family.
11. The Oprah Conversation
Oprah leads intimate discussions with today’s foremost newsmakers, thought leaders, and masters of their craft including President Barack Obama iconic, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, Grammy-Award winner Stevie Wonder, music icon Mariah Carey, Academy Award-winner Will Ferrell, comedian Eddie Murphy, Pulitzer Prize winner author Isabel Wilkerson, Professor Ibram X. Kendi, bestselling author of “How to Be an Antiracist;” and Emmanuel Acho, host of the provocative web series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” in a two-part episode.