A film review
By Brittany Lewis
On Friday, February 24, the group Solidarity will host a free screening of the film The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 at the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis. The social hour begins at 6 pm with the film showing at 7 pm. This is a free event.
Presented as a group of Swedish filmmakers’ — as “outsiders” — observation of America from 1967-1975, this film tells a more nuanced story of Black radical struggle in the United States. Although this film does not aim to provide its viewers with a comprehensive history of the rise of the Black Power Movement, it does highlight the growing divide between two Americas — Black and White.
Beginning with the post-Vietnam realities of Black men, this film immediately questions America’s commitment to economic and social equity. I found this entry point telling, as it illustrated the nation’s willingness to use Black bodies to fight its wars against foreign nations without addressing the perils of discrimination at home.
The impassioned rhetoric of Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael then signifies the rise of a new Black politics. Non-violence was no longer seen as the best way to bring about revolution, because as Carmichael stated, “America has no conscience.” This armed struggle was rooted in the bitter realities of poverty and discrimination as illustrated through Carmichael’s interview with his mother.
However, the assassination of a number of Black leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Hampton and Medgar Evers, would mark the rise of the Nixon regime and his armed war against the Black community and their cry for economic and racial equality.
Angela Davis said it best when she stated that those who question violence as a tactic in the Black Power Movement know nothing about Black life in America. By making this statement, she aimed to highlight the fact that Black life has been a story of violence, but the movement was now pointing the guns in the other direction.
This is an intensely relevant film in the current moment, as Black communities continue to live within the most impoverished neighborhoods and face increasing levels of employment discrimination in a time when jobs are scarce. Furthermore, it does not help that right-wing conservatives fail to acknowledge the lived material realities of Black people who suffer under capitalism by using discourses of diversity and colorblindness.
The film ends by questioning the state of Black politics today, asking the viewers to consider how much has really changed with the election of President Obama. I am not suggesting that an armed revolt is in order, but I am suggesting that we take lessons from our radical foremothers and fathers to help inform our collective agenda today. We must embrace their triumphs, but recognize that there is still much more work to be done.
For more information about the screening of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, see the Spot listings on this page.
Brittany Lewis is a member of the group Solidarity.