Book to Action Documentaries

Book to Action 2021: Equity, Health and Sustainability | Related Documentary Resources

Below is a curated list of documentaries with discussion and action guides. Watch then discuss as a community. Build a panel of local community partners to apply lessons learned to your locale. Documentary producers are often excellent community partners and potential speakers, especially as films often offer discussion guides and resources for community members looking to get involved.  

Be sure to check Hoopla and Kanopy (if your library uses these services) for more. Note: If you are looking for films that are only on Netflix, they do offer educational screenings. Example: Listing for the documentary 13th with grant of permission for educational screenings.


  • And Then They Came For Us (2017) – Seventy-eight years ago, Executive Order 9066 paved the way to the profound violation of constitutional rights that resulted in the forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. Host a screening and download the study guide.
  • I am Not Your Negro (2016) – Teaching Guide from Argument-Centered Education
  • John Lewis: Get in the Way (2017) – Teaching Resources from PBS
  • Just Mercy (2019) – Discussion Guide from the Equal Justice Initiative
  • Teach Us All (2017) – Filmmaker’s Statement: “Teach Us All is organized around three central themes: the critical role of teachers in shaping the lives of young people; the urgent need for community engagement to ensure the success of schools; and the power of students themselves, who must now take up the mantle from the Little Rock Nine and fight for the quality, equitable educational system they deserve and that has yet to be realized. But ultimately, this affects all of us, and can only be solved in collaboration.” -Sonia Lowman
  • TED Talks on Race – Includes How to Overcome our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them
  • The 1992 L.A. Riots and Civil Unrest | Asian Americans – (2020) – On April 29, 1992, a week-long period of rioting and chaos swept through South Central, Koreatown, and other neighborhoods of Los Angeles, California. The initial unrest was sparked by the acquittal of four white police officers responsible for the beating of Rodney King, a Black man arrested for driving under the influence. The events were preceded by a long history of police brutality in Los Angeles’ Black communities. This 5 minute clip on the LA Riots is from the PBS Documentary Series: Asian Americans, episode 5: Breaking Through (51 minutes). The 51 minute episode is not available to be shared but Educators can create an account and watch it on the PBS website. Supporting materials are also found on the link.
  • True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (2019) – HBO and online. Community screenings are available. Contact Emily Keating for licensing and permission information: See also the available Community Engagement Guide for True Justice.