The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

(2011)

You're either part of the solution or part of the problem.

Documentary on America's Black Power movement, made from newly discovered 16mm footage shot between 1968 and 1975. Includes interviews with key players in the movement.... More

US anger over Sweden’s vocal opposition to the Vietnam War put a freeze on official relations between the two from 1968 to 1975. This documentary draws from a recently discovered trove of 16mm footage recorded in the US by Swedish TV reporters during that time. Investigating social inequities, they documented African American communities and interviewed key Black Power figures. The crisply shot footage and the direct, engaging interviews they elicited stand in contrast to the grainy, fearsome American TV imagery that usually tells their story. Even the occasional naivety of the Swedish interlocutors has its upside for history: Angela Davis responds to a question about the movement’s alleged espousal of violence with a torrent of outrage that is electrifying in its lucidity and heartbreaking in its justness 40 years later.Hide

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Flicks Review

Part way through The Black Power Mixtape, I realized why it had that last word in the title. The film charts the course of the ‪African-American Civil Rights Movement‬ from 1967 to 1975, and consists of footage of the era combined with present day voiceovers, divided into a chapter for each year and forming the titular mixtape.... More

Director Goran Olsson assembled the bulk of the movie from footage shot for Swedish television and left in a basement for nearly 40 years. It's remarkable, showing candid moments from revolutionaries Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael as well as powerful images of poverty and heroin abuse.

That these scenes are presented with an even, distinctly European tone throws a harsh light on the depth of injustice and human suffering occurring. As the years progress, the narrative of the film becomes about how subsequent generations deal with oppression, growing more desperate with each passing year. Interviewees throughout suggest that the government was responsible for introducing drugs into the ghetto, and for the deaths of black civil rights proponents Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.

Providing voiceover interviews are contemporary musicians such as Erykah Badu and Talib Kweli (who nonchalantly tells an anecdote about the Feds tapping his phone). Their contributions are pleasant enough, but hardly essential. I guess the idea was to contextualise the events presented through a modern lens, but insights from historian Robin Kelley end up being more pertinent to this sad story.Hide


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