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What to Watch: 5 shows for Black History Month

Flavor Flav and Chuck D of Public Enemy attend the 65th annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday. Chuck D's new documentary "Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World" is now airing on PBS. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 5 | Flavor Flav and Chuck D of Public Enemy attend the 65th annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday. Chuck D's new documentary "Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World" is now airing on PBS. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Black History Month sparks new programming each year that sheds light on an aspect of the African American community that may have been overlooked.

This year is no exception. Alongside the many programs with Black leads or covering Black topics and previously released documentaries are brand-new shows telling stories that may have not been heard before.

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During the month, viewers can find a multitude of Black movies, TV series and even short films that are curated in one place for easy watching via streamers HBO Max, Prime Video, Peacock, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix. Here are our Top 5 to watch.

'African Queens: Njinga' -- Netflix, Feb. 15

Jada Pinkett Smith executive-produced the four-episode Netflix series, which covers the life of Njinga, the 17th-century warrior queen of the African nations of Ndongo and Matamba, now known as Angola. Pinkett Smith is also narrating the docuseries, which combines historical facts and expert interviews with re-enactments.

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"I have teamed with Netflix and Nutopia to produce a docu-series about the life of one of my favorite African Queens -- Queen Njinga," Pinkett-Smith wrote in a post to her Instagram account last month.

"The series premieres Feb. 15 for Black History Month. I hope you will tune in to honor the legacy of this powerful warrior queen whose story was almost lost and forgotten."

Njinga will be played by Nigerian/British actress Adesuwa Oni.

'1619 Project' -- Hulu, through Thursday

Hannah Nikole Jones' 1619 Project attracted its fair share of controversy when it debuted in The New York Times Magazine in 2019. Now it's a six-part Hulu limited docuseries that covers some of the themes of the original.

The episodes are hosted by Jones. "Democracy" "Race," "Music" "Capitalism" "Fear" and "Justice" echo The Times' best-selling book of essays The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Oprah Winfrey also is an executive producer on the series. Four episodes have already aired; the next two will premiere on Thursday.

'Soul of a Nation presents Black In Vegas' -- Hulu, on demand

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ABC produced this special now available on Hulu about the evolution of Black performers in Las Vegas. Sammy Davis Jr., along with the rest of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, became one of the hottest acts on the Las Vegas strip in the '50s and '60s even though its casinos were segregated.

With Sinatra's support, Davis was one of the first entertainers to be treated equally as an entertainer in the desert city, though it wasn't until 1971 that a law was passed to end segregation there.

The special highlights the success of Black performers in Las Vegas today, as musicians from Prince to Usher to Ne-Yo to Janet Jackson and New Edition extended or revitalized careers with long-term residencies.

'Black Travel Across America' -- National Geographic Channel, Monday; Hulu, Tuesday; Disney+, Feb. 24

Postal carrier Hugo Green published The Negro Motorists' Green Book from 1936 to 1966 to inform African Americans about the safest places to travel in the then-segregated United States.

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After a partnership with Standard Oil, The Green Book was sold at Esso gas stations, becoming the most popular guide for Black travelers in the country.

Green expanded the guide to include destinations in Europe, Canada and Africa up to shortly before his death in 1960. Black Travel Across America details the history of African American travel by telling the stories of those who pushed past the barriers to assume equal footing as wanderers and adventurers.

'Fight the Power -- How Hip Hop Changed the World,' PBS, through Feb. 14

Hip-hop has achieved a monumental anniversary by turning 50 this year. On PBS, rapper Chuck D. executive-produced the four-part documentary Fight the Power -- How Hip Hop Changed the World, covering the gamut of rap music and its pioneers and progenitors.

From its humble beginnings in the streets and clubs of the Bronx to the global phenomenon it is today, Chuck covers the impact, messages and challenges of hip-hop's fifth decade. The final two episodes air Tuesday and and Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. EST, and are available on PBS.com, the PBS app and on YouTube.

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Stars walk the 2023 Grammy Awards red carpet

Left to right, Kim Petras, Sam Smith, Violet Chachki and Gottmik attend the 65th annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on February 5, 2023. Smith and Petras are nominees. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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