What to Watch on Juneteenth: A TV Viewing Guide (Photos)

Margeaux Sippell

In honor of Juneteenth, we’ve gathered a list of special programming across several networks to commemorate the holiday that celebrates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, and delivered the news that all enslaved people were free. Juneteenth is still not recognized as a federal holiday, but it is recognized by several states — and this year, many companies are declaring it a paid holiday in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and national protesting that has taken place following the death of George Floyd.

This special programming celebrates black history and educates viewers on the history of the black experience in the United States.

Ovation 24-hour programming block

Starting at 6 a.m. ET, Ovation is presenting a 24-hour programming schedule featuring black voices like Beyoncé, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alfre Woodard, Michelle Obama and Pharrell Williams. Programming includes “Nina Simone, The Legend,” “Sammy Davis, Jr. – The Very Best of the Rat Pack,” “Pharrell: Happy-Go-Lucky,” “Rihanna: No Regrets,” “Ride to Freedom: The Rosa Parks Story,” and more.

ABC and Nat Geo

At 8 p.m. ET, the networks will simulcast ABC News’ “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming,”  a special that presents “intimate stories, examining the legacy of the holiday through the current lens of political and social unrest that has captured global attention,” and also features “stories of Black-owned businesses,  the struggle to pass congressional anti-lynching legislation, the power of Black spirituality and the church and other houses of faith, and how a legacy of suffering has often been transformed into joy through the lens of artists.”

TV One

At 1 p.m. ET, TV One will be showing the film “Behind the Movement,” which “features the actual bus where Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger on December 1, 1955, spiraled into the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott,” according to the network. It stars starring Meta Golding, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Washington and Roger Guenveur Smith.

BET

Starting at 7 a.m. PT, BET will premiere social justice episodes of series, inspirational films, music videos, messages of perseverance, tenacity and hope from leading Black voices to showcase Black achievement. That includes “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Selma.” There will also be some free content streaming online, including “Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story.”

OWN

The Oprah Winfrey Network will be showing special encore airings beginning at 3 p.m., including “Dark Girls,” “Light Girls,” “Oprah & Lupita Nyong’o on Colorism,” “Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved the Way,” and “OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Do Go From Here?” parts one and two.

FX

Starting at 7 a.m., FX will have a day’s worth of Juneteenth programming including “Hidden Figures,” “Selma,” “Get Out,” and a marathon of “Atlanta” and “Blackish.”

HBO

All nine episodes of “Watchmen” will be available to stream for free online at HBO.com from June 19-21. Other free programming includes “Being Serena,” “Bessie,” “Whoopi Goldberg presents Moms Mabley,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” “United Skates,” “Jerrod Carmicheal’s Home Videos,” “Lil’ Rel Live In Crenshaw,” “The Apollo,” and select episodes of “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” “The Shop,” “Treme” and “True Detective.”

MSNBC.com

Stream the inaugural social justice conference “Faith for Black Lives JusticeCon” on MSNBC.com, featuring former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Rev. Al Sharpton, Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and more beginning at 9 a.m. ET.

Hulu

Episode four of “Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi” will be available for free on Hulu’s YouTube channel from June 19 to 21st.  Called “The Gullah Way,” the episode features The Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina as they fight “to preserve the traditions passed down from their ancestors, West Africans forced into slavery. In the episode, Padma catches and cracks crab with new friends and old and learns how they are working towards reclaiming their heritage.”

UMC

The streaming service will be highlighting select programming for the holiday, including “The Tombs,” a short film about “a Brooklyn man’s three-day journey through New York’s infamous Central Booking jail system,” and “Blood Done Sign My Name,” described as “the electrifying true story of a brutal racial murder in North Carolina, and the extraordinary courage of those who fought to change a small town’s legacy of hatred and discrimination.” All are currently available to stream on UMC.

Netflix

Earlier this month, the network curated a special collection of 47 titles highlighting the black experience titled “More than a Moment,” featuring programming like Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th” and limited series “When They See Us,” the Netflix original series “Dear White People,” and “Malcolm X.” View more titles at the streaming service’s Black Lives Matter landing page.

AMC and IFC

Musical variety sketch show “Sherman’s Showcase” returns with a one-hour special called “Black History Month Spectacular,” premiering at 10 p.m. on AMC and then again at 11 p.m. on IFC.

Facebook Watch

Steve Harvey sits down with Kimberly Jones, an NAACP Image Award nominee, activist and author, for a conversation about her viral video and why the current protests are happening around the Black Lives Matter movement. Watch the episode on Harvey’s Facebook Watch series “Steve on Watch.”

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