Last year, HBO’s Watchmen series from executive producer Damon Lindelof blew us all away by not only being a riveting sequel to the groundbreaking comic series, but a searing indictment of systemic racism, both in law enforcement and American society at large. Now HBO is giving everyone a chance to see this powerful and provocative series by making it available for free to watch starting on June 19, and the date for this is certainly not without meaning.
HBO sent out a press release announcing the opportunity for everyone to watch Watchmen for free from June 19 through June 21. Everyone will be able to watch the series on HBO.com and through VOD, regardless of whether or not you subscribe to HBO. Those who already subscribe to the cable channel will also find a marathon of the series beginning at 1:00 P.M. ET/PT on June 19, and if you’re an HBO Max subscriber, you also have access to the series at any time.
Watchmen is simply described by HBO as a story that is “set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws” and “embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own.” The series deals with racism in the United States, both in history and today, through the lens of a comic book story set in Tulsa, Oklahoma where law enforcement and vigilantes clash with white supremacists, and shocking secrets and mysteries threaten to throw everything into upheaval.
That date for this promotion is significant because June 19 is designated as Juneteenth in commemoration of June 19, 1865 when a federal order was delivered in Galveston, Texas that proclaimed all slaves as free in the state of Texas. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation had been passed two and a half years earlier and the American Civil War was essentially over after the Confederate states were defeated in April of that year, Texas still held onto slavery, and this order was required to officially end slavery in the Confederate states.
During the recent Black Lives Matter protests happening across the globe, there has been an outcry for the entire nation to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. As of now, it is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 47 of the 50 states, but it has never been named as a federal holiday.
Making Watchmen available for free is even more relevant and timely considering the recent anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre, which took place on May 31 and June 1 in 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black citizens and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This event is prominently featured in the series and serves as the catalyst for much of the racially charged plot that unfolds, and it even brought more attention to this time in history that had rarely been widely discussed or depicted on screen.
If you haven’t seen Watchmen, now is the time to catch up with this masterful piece of storytelling. Otherwise, it’s also available now on Blu-ray.
HBO is making other programming featuring Black stories available for free starting on June 19 as well. Titles include original movies like Bessie, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, United Skates, and The Apollo, as well as comedy specials like Jerrod Carmicheal’s Home Videos and Lil’ Rel Live In Crenshaw, and shows such as Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas and Random Acts of Flyness. Check out HBO.com for even more titles created by and starring Black storytellers.
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