5 of the Best Black History Month TV Episodes to Rewatch in 2023
Each year, a new list of “shows to watch during Black History Month” surfaces, and it usually includes one or two of your favorite Black-centered sitcoms. While the ‘90s and early 2000s sitcoms like A Different World and Disney’s The Proud Family are popular choices because of how hilarious they are, they're also important for the positive representation of Black youth.
These shows paid homage to Black traditions and recognized holidays for several years, including Black History Month. Many of them had TV episodes centered around BHM, which was first legalized in February 1986.
Here are 5 of the best TV episodes about Black History Month that are available to stream!
5. ‘Black-ish’ (Season 5, Ep. 19: “Black History Month”)
Where to stream: Hulu
For eight incredible seasons on ABC, Black-ish candidly discussed issues about the Black community. Using humor in the classic Black-ish way, Season 5 showed how, despite years of new Black history being made, there is still a limit to what schools highlight.
In “Black History Month,” Dre (Anthony Anderson) takes the Black education into his own hands when he discovers Jack (Miles Brown) and Diane (Marsai Martin) are seemingly getting the same BHM trivia he received growing up. The patriarch spends the rest of the episode orchestrating his own facts he believes students need to know.
4. ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ (Season 1 Ep. 17: “The Ethnic Tip”)
Where to stream: HBOMax
Season 1 of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air often showed how utterly different Will Smith (Will Smith) was from his Bel-Air prep school classmates. In episode 17, “The Ethnic Tip,” Will realizes his new school doesn’t have a Black history class and is shocked when his Aunt Viv (Janet Hubert) offers to teach the class.
During her time as the class’s teacher, Aunt Viv taught her students about important Black history moments, including the Underground Railroad. Fans will recall Will leading a ridiculous version of “Wade in the Water” in one of the episode’s scenes.
While the episode aired in January 1991, one month before Black History Month, it is still a popular TV episode to rewatch.
3. ‘Moesha’ ( Season 4, Ep. 12: “Life Imitating Art”)
Where to stream: Netflix
In Moesha Season 4, Ep. 12, “Life Imitating Art,” the Brandy-led show shed light on the growing divide between minorities in the ‘90s.
During the episode, Moesha led Crenshaw High’s students to protest Antonio’s (Jon Huertas) painting. Antonio, a Mexican-American student, created a mural featuring Mexican-American migrant workers, which offended Moesha and the Black student population. But when someone defaced Antonio’s mural, the students came together and realized how much history their ancestors shared.
2. ‘The Proud Family’ (Season 1, Ep. 15: “I Had a Dream’)
Where to stream: Disney Plus
During The Proud Family’s first run, the Disney Channel series celebrated Black History Month in Season 1. In the episode “I Had a Dream,” Penny (voiced by Kyla Pratt) gets sucked into a windstorm while working on a Black History Month report. She travels back to 1955 and sees firsthand how divided the world was back then. When she returns in 2001, Penny gains a new appreciation for her history.
The Proud Family episode continues to be a fan-favorite today. Oscar’s iconic message about the holiday being “the shortest month of the year” remains a viral meme to this day.
1. ‘A Different World’ (Season 5, Ep. 11: “Mammy Dearest”)
Where to stream: HBO Max
Like all of the shows on our list, A Different World still receives flowers for its influence on Black culture. The series, which took place at the fictional Historical Black College/University (HBCU) Hillman College, often pushed the envelopes for shedding light on actual issues affecting Black students, including HIV/AIDS, colorism, and racism.
After learning the difficult news about her family’s history, Whitley tried to step away from the exhibit. However, her friends stepped in and created a riveting performance about taking back racist tropes put on Black women.
In the episode’s final scene, Kim (Charnele Brown) reclaimed the “Aunt Jemima” nickname she received as a child and used it to show the African roots that history overlooks.