Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

22 Oct

Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975— Director Göran Olsson. Documentary. A compilation of modern commentary with recently discovered period footage of the personalities of the black movement. 100 Minutes Color 2011.

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Black Power – what happened, where did it go? It dissolved in the drug haze of the 70s, behind whose smoke it still lies unconscious and stupefied. But we see here the remarkable personalities of the era – and we note that every one of these leaders and celebrities were well-spoken, as though they were chosen by fate to be comprehensible to the White folk of America. That too has vanished, blackwashed behind a racial patois designed to keep the Black race now segregated, safe, and aloof. So it is a treat to come upon Stokely Carmichael, poised, calm, and eloquent. And it is a treat to see the brilliant and brilliantly educated Angela Davis respond to her interlocutors’ questioning Black violence with astonishent and a perfectly told story of the violence which she experienced at first hand growing up: after all, her family were neighborhood friends with those four black girls who were blown to smithereens. Pieces of the story are missing. Louis Farrakhan is not missing, and he sure is convincing, but Malcolm X is missing, and so is the work of the Black Panther’s policy and action in Oakland to educate and feed their children properly; we see only a glimpse of it. And we are missing the raised fist of Cassius Clay, whose demeanor expressed Black Power as a personality style of an anger which because he was a fighter no one could gainsay and whom as an independent spiritual entity no one could confuse with church fustian when he became Mohammed Ali. A documentary can only skim over matters because it is covering eight years and a movement which had many contradictory elements, visions, and spirits. Black Power was essentially an expression of a desire for participation, just as was Martin Luther King’s non-violent movement. Both were styles of anger; both were non- violent, but  Black Power was not the placid version; they sometimes carried guns and sometimes used them. When they did, the media had a story far more sensational and distracting and influential than the essentially peaceful intentions of both groups. The result of Racial Protest during these years was to remove blatant surface symbols and symptoms of Racial Prejudice and replace them with democratic drinking fountains. But how deep did the Revolution go? Did it go deeper than race? Did it go to the human core of things? Did we act not because of superficial reasons of skin color or because Blacks were fellow Americans, but because no human being should be treated that way?




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