If your kiddos are watching TV, you at least want them to see uplifting images of Black and brown people, right? Black kids shows are affirming. They’re inspiring. And they’re necessary.
After all, you make the effort to find books that star Black characters and buy dolls that reflect your children’s beauty. But it’s hard to compete with what they see every day on the TV screen: A world that focuses on the adventures of white boys and girls.
Wondering what Black kids shows are on network television or streaming? Here is a lengthy list of television shows that feature Black leads or Black cartoon characters. (Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two avoid exposure to television.)
We’ve broken this list up as follows:
(Ages 2 and up)
Esme and Roy
Esme, and her bestest pal Roy are monstersitter extraordinaires! This adorable pair uses the power of play to ease monster tantrums in the town of Monsterdale.
Blaze and the Monster Machines
Looking for Black kids shows that are also educational? A monster truck and his driver go on amazing adventures while learning about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Nella and the Princess Knight
Nella, an 8-year-old princess who transforms into a knight, goes on many adventures with her friends to fight for what’s right. (Parents looking for biracial representation: Nella’s dad is Black and her mom is white.)
Reba to the Rescue
This sweet web series follows Reba as she goes about her life mission of “ensure[ing] the education [and] well-being of all! With her cape and large afro, she stands ready to love, help others learn, and love some more!” And Reba does this all with a jazzy soundtrack.
Black Kids Shows for Big Kiddos
(Ages 5 and up)
Bino and Fino
An educational show that teaches children about Africa, Bino and Fino are a brother and sister duo who live in a modern Nigerian city.
If your family loves listening to music together, look for Black kids shows like Motown Magic. Ben is an 8-year-old with a big heart and an even bigger imagination. With his magic paintbrush, Ben brings the streets of Motown back to life with vibrant tunes from the historic musical era.
“Super Sema is the first African animated superhero series to empower and inspire the next generation of children to change the world through curiosity, creativity, and STEAM.
“Follow the daring adventures of Sema, a super African girl, who along with her brother MB, uses her ‘technovating’ powers to save her village from a heartless robot uber villain. From their Secret Lab, they code world-changing apps, create energy from waste, engineer solutions for their community, develop virtual worlds, and might even launch a space rocket, but be home in time to print 3D pizzas!” (Go back to main menu)
Based on the book by Andrea Beatty, join Ada, her best friends, and family as they explore the world around them to understand how it works. Ada’s enthusiasm for her STEM-based adventures will engage viewers, both young and old.
Rapping isn’t just for adults! Watch Karma as she changes the world through her whip-smart rhymes infused with her heart and soul, and the power of words.
Calling All Tweens
(Ages 8 and up)
Cousins for Life
Those who have outgrown Black cartoon characters may want to check out live-action Black kids shows like Cousins for Life. Ivy and Stuart are cousins who live together and are learning about each other, saving the planet, and having fun!
Dre and Rainbow “Bow” Johnson and their children tackle issues of cultural identity, race, and family while living in a white, upper middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles. (And it was just announced that there’ll be a spin-off based on Bow’s childhood called Mixed-ish.)
A spinoff to the original Disney series That’s So Raven!, this sitcom features best friends Raven and Chelsea as two divorced moms raising their kids (Booker, Nia, and Levi) together in a Chicago apartment. Turns out, Raven’s son, Booker, has the same psychic powers as his mom.
Marvel’s Avengers Assemble: Black Panther’s Quest
Black Panther has to decide if he’s an Avenger first or if his loyalties ultimately remain to the people of Wakanda.
When Leo’s mom marries a rich inventor, he stumbles upon three super-powered teens living in a secret lab beneath his new dad’s home.
Disney Plus (free with cable login)
Ryan awakens a robot that was built to protect the city against an impending catastrophe. In hopes of saving his city, his brother and best friends are Ryan’s only hope to help pilot the robot.
A group of preteens, including Skai Jackson who portrays Zuri Ross, head off to a summer camp at Camp Kikiwaka where all of their parents met years ago.
Mama K’s Team 4
If your kids are searching for Black cartoon characters, they’re in for a treat with this animated series. Four girls, living in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka, are hired by an ex-secret agent to save the world. (Go back to main menu)
Teen Tube (Ages 13 and up)
Editor’s Note: Many of these suggestions may depend on your comfort level with your teenager watching content about sex, alcohol, drugs, and other “adult situations.” Those shows have an asterisk by them. You can read parents’ reviews on Common Sense Media—these could be shows you watch as a family to unpack some of the heavier topics.
Inspired by the professional life of football player Spencer Paysinger, this drama series is chronicles Spencer’s transition from Crenshaw High School to Beverly Hills High.
Vigilante DC comic hero Jefferson Pierce transforms into Black Lightning. With the help of his two superpowered daughters, Jennifer and Anissa, the family is on a mission to rid their hometown from crime.
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger*
Two New Orleans teenagers, Tyrone and Tandy, both come from different backgrounds; however, a life-changing nuclear explosion brings the pair together to take down evil and destruction in their beloved city.
Based on a novel by Natalie Baszile, the series chronicles the lives of three siblings who inherit their father’s Louisiana farm. Teenagers may be especially interested in the character of Micah, one of the sibling’s son.
A spinoff to Black-ish, the eldest Johnson kid Zoey tackles all the complicated dealings of college life. Is she prepared to live and thrive outside of her parent’s nest?
A superhero team of teenagers fight two battles: one against their own parents and another against an alien group that’s planning to take over the world.
On My Block*
Four teens in inner-city Los Angeles learn about friendship and how their lives will be tested as the enter a new chapter in their lives—high school.
Dear White People*
Racial tensions escalate at a prestigious Ivy League college. Watch the drama unfold through the perspective of the campus’ Black students.
A coming-of-age drama about kids growing up on Chicago’s South Side, created by Emmy-award winner Lena Waithe. (Go back to main menu)
Black Kids Shows: Oldies, But Goodies
There’s nothing wrong with going to the vault. The following shows are no longer in syndication, but they still rank high on the quality meter.
Check your favorite streaming service or the public library to catch old episodes.
Yo Gabba Gabba
Learn about music and magic as you sing along to popular artists and dope tunes with DJ Lance Rock and five friendly monsters. (Ages 3 and up)
An educational series, hosted by LeVar Burton, that teaches young children to read and open their minds through books. Each episode highlights a specific book theme and recommends books for children to pick up from the library. (Ages 3 and up)
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
An animated anthology series of classic fairy tales that are told from various cultural perspectives.
Gullah Gullah Island
A musical children’s show inspired by the Gullah culture of Sea Islands, South Carolina. (Ages 3 and up)
Doc is a 6-year-old healer who makes sure that all her friends and stuffed animals’ health is in tip-top shape. (Ages 3 and up)
The Proud Family
Share adventures with Penny Proud and her proudly wacky family. (Ages 8 and up)
Class of 3000
Sunny Bridges teaches a group of music students in Atlanta’s Wesley School of Performing Arts. (Ages 8 and up)
That’s So Raven
Raven Baxter, a teenage girl, has psychic premonitions––some that get her and her friends in lots of trouble. (Ages 11 and up)
Everybody Hates Chris
This comedy is based on the real-life preteen and teenage experiences of comedian Chris Rock. (Ages 11 and up)
Mo to the, E to the… An American sitcom featuring teenage R&B singer Brandy Norwood, Moesha navigates high school, friendships, and relationships from her home in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Ages 11 and up)
Based on Aaron McGruder’s popular comic strip, this satiric animated series tackles all the biggies–lifestyle, racism, pop culture, stereotypes, and socioeconomics—from the perspective of two young boys voiced by Oscar-award winning actress Regina King. (Ages 16 and up.)
What happens when a Black samurai has a mission to avenge his father’s death in feudal Japan? Note: Based on a Japanese manga series, the television show doesn’t shy away from graphic depictions of violence. (Ages 18 and up)
Didn’t see any of your favorite shows that star Black leads? Drop the name of the show, including a brief description and the network where the show appears. (Go back to main menu)