LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Actress Nicole Beharie attends Vanity Fair and FIAT celebration of Young Hollywood, hosted by Krista Smith and James Corden, to benefit the Terrence Higgins Trust at No Vacancy on February 17, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Miss Juneteenth tells the story of a single mother and former beauty queen as she preps her daughter for the local “Miss Juneteenth” pageant. The Channing Godfrey Peoples-directed film stars 42‘s Nicole Beharie (Turqouise), Insecure’s Kendrick Sampson (Ronnie), and breakout star Alexis Chikaeze (Kai). Peoples is also the writer of the heartfelt film. The film premiered at Sundance in January 2020, and was released onto Amazon Prime on June 19, 2020 to commemorate the holiday’s 155th year.

Originally celebrated in Texas and now celebrated as a federal holiday in the United States, Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was initially signed. Miss Juneteenth is based in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas, where Peoples grew up and drew inspiration from her own experiences.

In Miss Juneteenth, both Turquoise (Beharie) and Kai (Chikaeze) are looking for something that is their own. You can even make the case that this is true for Turq’s soon-to-be ex-husband and Kai’s father Ronnie: a mechanic who tries to open his own shop. It’s clear to Kai in the beginning that she does not want to follow in her mother’s footsteps and be crowned “Miss Juneteenth.” Although being the youngest character in the film, she’s the first who knows what direction she wants to go in, post-high school. Kai dreams of dancing at an HBCU, not being dressed up in an evening gown, and most certainly not taking etiquette lessons. It doesn’t come as easy for Turquoise as she is wrapped in the illusion that her daughter’s best path in life can only be achieved by the outcome of a pageant. The former beauty queen almost blinds herself to the next opportunity of getting her own “American Dream.” Admittedly, Turquoise contradicts herself when saying “that crown don’t make your dreams come true”: she got pregnant young and forfeited her scholarship, working as a bartender, and later becoming a stripper to afford Kai’s pageant fees and getting Ronnie out of jail. It’s only fair she wants better for her daughter after seeing the toxicity of her relationship with her own mother.

Not only does Miss Juneteenth speak on the parallels of Black success in America but the womanhood and motherhood between three generations of women. You have Charlotte (Lori Hayes, who plays Turquoise’s mother) who has masked her drunkenness by overcompensating her love of the church and furthermore straining her relationship with Turquoise and Kai. Turquoise doesn’t want her daughter to go on the same path as her so she pushes Kai to win the Miss Juneteenth pageant–which means a full ride to any HBCU of her choosing–even if it means sacrificing electricity for a night. Lastly, you have Kai, who wants to act like a normal teenage girl and interact with guys her age and ultimately wants to pursue a dream of her choosing and not her mother’s.

In this love letter to southern Black culture, Miss Juneteenth intertwines the freedom that our ancestors sought and the modern liberation of having something of our own whether it be property or a dream. The symbolism of the Miss Juneteenth crown in relation to Turquoise’s own determent from her original path in hindsight reflects the old saying: “All that glitters is not gold.”

Take a look at the trailer of the film below:

20 Notable Films About Black History That Aren’t About Slavery

  • 1. Selma, (2014)

    A historical drama based on the 1965 Selma marches to Montgomery detailing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s campaign to secure equal voting rights for Black Americans. Stream Selma on Hulu. 

  • 2. 42, (2013)

    A biographical sports film about baseball player Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete to play in Major League Baseball (MLB). Stream 42 on HBO Max.

  • 3. One Night in Miami, (2020)

    A film that follows a fictitious night of Black legends in Miami (Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, and Jim Brown). Although the night in history never happened several details of the film intertwine with the events following these men later in life. Stream on Amazon Prime.


  • 4. Judas and The Black Messiah, (2021)

    A biographical crime drama film based on “Chairman” Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers; their chapter is infiltrated by FBI informant William O’Neal. Stream on HBO Max.

  • 5. Just Mercy, (2019)

    A film focusing on the true story of a young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his historic win defending Walter McMillian. McMillian was sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. Stream on HBO Max.

  • 6. Hidden Figures, (2016)

    The story of a team of three Black women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson) who played vital roles in making the historical launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. Stream on Hulu.

  • 7. Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, (2020)

    A fictional series retelling of Madam C.J. Walker, who was the first African American self-made millionaire. Stream on Netflix.

  • 8. The United States vs. Billie Holiday, (2021)

    A biographical drama based on The Federal Bureau of Narcotics that launched an undercover sting operation against jazz singer, Billie Holiday. Stream on Hulu.

  • 9. Race, (2016)

    A biographical sports drama film based on the story of African-American track star Jesse Owens who won four record-breaking gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Stream on Prime Video.

  • 10. Malcolm X, (1992)

    A biographical drama film about the African-American activist Malcolm X and his fight for Black liberation. Stream on HBO Max.

  • 11. Straight Outta Compton (2015)

    A biographical musical drama film based on the lives and musical careers of hip-hop group N.W.A who revolutionized rap with their groundbreaking debut album Straight Outta Compton. Stream on Hulu.

  • 12. Get On Up (2014)

    A biographical musical drama film about the life of singer James Brown. Stream on Netflix.

  • 13. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

    A biographical drama film based on the life of trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey and her band during a Chicago studio session in 1927. Stream on Netflix.

  • 14. King Richard (2021)

    A biographical sports drama film on superstar tennis players Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams, and his plan to make his daughters the best on and off the court. Stream on Amazon Prime Video.

  • 15. Good Hair (2009)

    A documentary/comedy that explores the importance of Black hair in Black culture. Stream on Peacock.

  • 16. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

    Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished book, this documentary film explores racism through the stories of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. Stream on Netflix.

  • 17. John Lewis: Good Trouble (2020)

    A documentary combining archival footage and interviews on the 60 plus years of social activism by the late Representative John Lewis. Stream on HBO Max.

  • 18. Remember The Titans (2000)

    A biographical sports film based on the true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team (T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia) on their first season as a racially integrated unit. Stream on Disney+.

  • 19. 4 Little Girls (1997)

    A historical documentary film about the September 15, 1963, murder of four African-American girls in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama by the Ku Klux Klan. Since there is not a trailer available of the film, watch director Spike Lee talk about the making of the project. Stream on HBO Max.

  • 20. 13th (2016)

    A documentary that explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the premise that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. Stream on Netflix.