Black Power: A British Story of Resistance was food for thought for Black Lives Matter activists
The voice-over, from actor Daniel Kaluuya, was firm. This was a “hostile environment”. Cases of harassment by the police – the Mangrove Nine, the Oval Four – were explored, and two ex-Met officers were interviewed. One cried as he remembered colleagues beating up a black man in a cell. Alan Moss, a former chief superintendent, expressed no regrets. “There’s an old saying that the community gets the policing it deserves,” he said of his time in Brixton.
Telling the story over 90 minutes allowed the programme to explain the complexities of the movement – there were many groups (the Black Panthers, the Fasimbas, the Black Liberation Front) and no official membership; the charismatic Trinidadian revolutionary Michael X was portrayed in the press as their leader but insiders here dismissed him as a “hustler” who “made the most noise and had the least effect” on the lives of black Britons.
The programme was billed as “the forgotten story of the rise and fall of the Black Power movement” – forgotten not just by the white majority, it suggested, but by Black Lives Matter activists. “Youngsters should appraise themselves of what has gone before,” said the poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. There speaks the voice of experience.
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