Films That Teach Important Lessons On Civics

Jeff Horton
2 min readDec 11, 2020

Civics forms the basis of any democracy. Students must learn the fundamental values and ideologies that underpin their rights and responsibilities. And in doing so, they learn to carry out a treasured form of government. Below is a brief list of movies that can best help teachers facilitate the learning process and demonstrate real-life applications of the importance of civics.

1. The Post

This movie is set in the 1970s and follows the journey of journalists at The Washington Post to publish the Pentagon Papers. These documents provided classified information about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. It is perfect for teaching civics as it examines the role of the freedom of the press in a democracy. It also explores gender imbalances in power as the first female publisher of an American newspaper battled for respect and the journalists’ rights on her team.

2. Lincoln

Following the last few months of the life of President Abraham Lincoln, the film investigates the complexity of morality in a time when people were treated as property. It delves into the difficult process of getting the 13th amendment passed and how it almost destroyed the nation.

3. Malcolm X

Based on the life of the prominent civil rights leader, it follows a young Malcolm Little from his childhood until his death at the hands of assassins. It provides a greater appreciation for how he believed that self-defense was the best recourse for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. And it shows how his split with the Nation of Islam changed his perspective on fighting for equality.

4. Milk

Telling the story of Harvey Milk, the film looks at the fight for equality for the LGBTQ community. Mr. Milk was the first openly gay elected official in California and pushed for equality of the LGBTQ community. He notably fought against Proposition 6, which would not allow them to work in public schools.

5. Miss Sloane

All too often, lobbyists are shown in a negative light. This feature film shows a lobbyist working to counteract the gun lobby’s clout in the American legislative process.

Above are some of the best movies that can teach students about the importance of civics. They can help students understand how exercising their rights and duties is paramount to ensuring democracy.

Originally published at on December 11, 2020.



Jeff Horton

Jeff Horton is a Duluth-based educator, superintendent, technology enthusiast, and believer in representation. Learn more @