New Black history DVD
November 6, 2008 — News
Written by IRR News Team
Four seminal Black films on Tiger Bay, Leicester, Ladbroke Grove and Southall have been reissued in a new DVD by the Institute of Race Relations.
The four films, Struggles for Black Community, made for Channel 4 at the beginning of the 1980s, chart the milestones in Black people’s fight for justice – ‘race riots’ in Cardiff in post-war 1919, Notting Hill in 1958, Powell and the numbers game, the strike at Imperial Typewriters, the death of anti-fascist Blair Peach. They reveal, in these histories ‘from below’, how unities across communities were forged so that Black became a political colour, not the colour of one’s skin, how racism has changed over time and how state institutions have been forced to move in response to Black challenges.
The films show African-Caribbeans and Asians coming together in different ways at different periods to carry on a common struggle. A struggle which involved old and young, women and men, seamen, industrial workers and the unemployed. The films record the unity and continuity of Black struggle in Britain and the richness and variety of Black resistance in the community and the workplace.
Each film portrays the history and strength of one particular area – Cardiff, Southall, Ladbroke Grove, Leicester – and emphasises a particular aspect of historical Black struggle. But the films also complement each other – so that the series contributes to building a coherent history of Black people in British communities from the nineteenth into the twentieth century.
- Tiger Bay is my home shows that in 19th century Cardiff as in other ports Black communities began with Black colonial seamen. The Tiger Bay community faced official, as well as everyday physical harassment, which culminated in race riots in 1919 and a scheme for repatriation. But the community stood its ground, and so the people of Butetown lived through the Depression of the 1930s, and many of them served and died in world War Two.
- A town under siege focuses on how Southall organised to resist racist and fascist attacks between 1976 and 1981. Southall’s militancy had been initiated by community organisations of the 1950s, created to help Black workers combat racism in the workplace as well as to deal with discrimination in the community. And as state racism increased, the community fashioned and forged new weapons of struggle.
- From you were Black, you were out describes the Black condition in the 1950s in Ladbroke Grove a decaying inner area of London. And it was there that grassroots defence, organised against White racist mob attacks in 1958, developed into more general community resistance and the emergence of a number of major ‘Black Power’ organisations.
- A common history focuses on discrimination in employment, particularly the dispute at Imperial Typewriters in Leicester, in 1974. Here Black workers faced opposition not only from the bosses, but also from some trades unions as well as fellow White workers. And the film demonstrates that the outrage of young Black people (many born here), as seen throughout Britain in the dramatic events of the widespread urban uprisings of Summer 1981, was related to the disappointed hopes of their migrant-worker parents.
Download a copy of the booklet which accompanies the Struggles for Black Community DVD, (pdf file, 2.3mb – large file)
Individuals can buy the four films on one DVD at the link below for £13. Download a copy of booklet which accompanies the Struggles for Black Community DVD here (pdf file, 2.3mb - large file).
The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.
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