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17 Documentaries About Activism To Stream Online

Learn about the fight against human rights abuses, unconstitutional surveillance, worker exploitation, and more.

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1. E-Team

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What it's about: "E-Team" is short for "Emergencies Team," a Human Rights Watch group dedicated to exposing war crimes in Libya, Syria, and beyond.

Where to watch: Netflix, Google Play, YouTube

2. 1971

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What it's about: 1971 is about the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, who broke into an FBI office and stole files that would expose the agency's extensive illegal surveillance and sabotage of left-wing activists and movements, including the COINTELPRO project.

Where to watch: Netflix

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3. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

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What it's about: The Black Power Mixtape sheds light on civil rights leaders like Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis, and addresses many of the same conversations about racism that are still going on today.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes

4. How to Survive a Plague

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What it's about: How to Survive a Plague chronicles the actions and struggles of protest organizations ACT UP and TAG, who faced down the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

5. The Square

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What it's about: The Square is named after Cairo's Tahrir Square, where Egyptians (at times, millions of them) fought for freedom, starting in 2011, from the corrupt regimes of first President Hosni Mubarak, and then President Mohamed Morsi.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, YouTube

6. She's Beautiful When She's Angry

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What it's about: She's Beautiful When She's Angry follows the feminist movement from its second wave in the 1960s to today's third wave.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

7. Let the Fire Burn

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What it's about: Let the Fire Burn is named for law enforcement's 1985 decision to drop explosives on the Philadelphia home of black liberation group MOVE, and not to extinguish the blaze that killed five children and six adults.

Where to watch: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

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8. How to Change the World

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What it's about: How to Change the World follows a group of environmental activists as they attempt to stop President Richard Nixon's Amchitka nuclear bomb tests, and later, as they form the organization now known as Greenpeace.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

9. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

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What it's about: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer follows the court proceedings of the feminist, anti-Putin band's members as they face charges of hooliganism.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

10. Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

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What it's about: Winter on Fire tells the story of the bloody Euromaidan protests in 2013 and 2014, in which Ukrainians fought to join the European Union as they had been promised by president and Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych.

Where to watch: Netflix

11. Concerning Violence

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What it's about: Concerning Violence, directed by The Black Power Mixtape's Göran Hugo Olsson and narrated by Ms. Lauryn Hill, covers African anti-colonialist movements in the 1960s and 1970s.

Where to watch: Netflix

12. The Hand that Feeds

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What it's about: The Hand that Feeds follows a group of undocumented NYC food service workers as they organize and mobilize, with the law working against them, for fair wages and necessary benefits.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube

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13. Truth and Power

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What it's about: Truth and Power is a docuseries following the lives of modern-day activists looking out for Americans' civil liberties. The show explores everything from spyware and hacking, to drones, to the Black Lives Matter movement, and beyond.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube

14. If a Tree Falls

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What it's about: If a Tree Falls covers the Earth Liberation Front, focusing in particular on arsonist/activist Daniel G. McGowan and exploring the question of how terrorism is defined.

Where to watch: Amazon Video, iTunes

15. The Weather Underground

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What it's about: The Weather Underground tells the story of radical organization The Weathermen (alternately known as the Weather Underground Organization), who rejected theories of non-violence and attempted to overthrow the US government through strategies like rioting and bombing.

Where to watch: Amazon Video, Google Play, YouTube

16. Plot for Peace

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What it's about: Plot for Peace tells the story of businessman Jean-Yves Ollivier, a little-known but key player in the ending of apartheid in South Africa.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

17. DamNation

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What it's about: DamNation follows a group of environmental activists as they use various legal and non-legal strategies in an attempt to restore natural river ecosystems through dam removal.

Where to watch: Netflix, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

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