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Black Lives

Portraits of public and private lives against the shifting social climate of 20th century Britain.

Black communities, like many minority groups, have long been ill-served by a mainstream British media accustomed to reflecting predominantly white, middle-class lives - a problem entrenched in the second half of the 20th century with the rise of television. Yet a rich tapestry of work from across the boundaries of fiction and non-fiction, film and TV, made for (though not always by) black people, does exist. This selection contains many surprises – some joyous, some sobering, some heartbreaking – and highlights the often painfully slow progress in addressing negative representations and stereotypes on screen.

Impassioned and sometimes violent dispatches from the front line in the fight for racial equality can be found here, but so too can records of progress: in the pioneers breaking new ground in culture, politics and sport, and in the more mundane glimpses of everyday life. And this story is not just London’s story: the selection takes a journey around Britain, to a Nigerian wedding in 1960s Cornwall, an ‘African village’ in Essex and a Caribbean restaurant opening in West Bromwich; Newcastle, meanwhile, plays host to not one but two black luminaries, Martin Luther King and Muhammed Ali.

triangle triangle
Black Lives

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Burning Cross Race Attack 1965

A stark reminder from Handsworth of the intolerance and hatred that darkened the streets of 1960s Britain.

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Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club - I 1960

Gorgeous colour images of the multicultural Tiger Bay in Cardiff's docks area: a lively, thriving community under threat from slum clearance.

38 mins Wales

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The Gay Black Group - reasserting culture and identity on two levels.

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In an age when using the term ‘coloured’ was deemed acceptable, Anglia TV ask Councillors in Mildenhall why it is considered a problem to house migrants in the overspill town.

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The white residents of a Leeds suburb express their troubling thoughts on their new black neighbours.

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Dressing to please as the happy couple switch wedding dress for national dress.

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Tough times on the tracks - the West Indian railway workers who kept the trains moving through the big freeze.

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An extraordinary and unexpected snapshot of rural life in wartime in which a young black girl is crowned Queen of the May.

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Broadcaster Daniel Farson explores different points of view about interracial marriages from 'ordinary' people.

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A Ghanaian fashion student and a Nigerian squash player are among the Africans making a life in 70s Britain in this edition of the magazine show.

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Stephen Dwoskin brings together members of the Ballet Negres dance company, founded in London in 1946.

83 mins United Kingdom Director. Stephen Dwoskin

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New houses for a new future? A self build housing project for Afro Caribbeans is introduced in Birmingham.

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Ghanaian led Afro-Caribbean band spread infectious rhythms of world music at Plymouth’s Frankfort Gate.

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Haunting colour travelogue taking in Ulster, Lewis, Lincoln and Cardiff's Tiger Bay.

27 mins United Kingdom Director. Eric Marquis

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Followers of the Rastafari way of life bring tales of Haile Selassie, Jah and Zion to the streets of inner-city Birmingham.

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"Why Tory?" Bernard Braden asks aspiring politician Cuthbert Gardner, who's standing for election to Merton Council

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"There's been no active encouragement for black people to participate within the political structure of this country". A bleak picture of the lack of equality in Britain.

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Nigerian children find a home with the Arnetts in Fremington

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With workshops and performances, Aklowa village in Essex promotes a greater awareness of the richness of African culture.

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Welcome to the Multicultural Fortnight in Cambridge where children learn to banish cultural stereotypes learned from TV.

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Essex primary schoolchildren share an unforgettable afternoon, living the life of an African villager.

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East African Dance in Weymouth 1976

Basil, an East African performer educates school children in traditional dance

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With great enthusiasm, the schoolchildren of Stewards Comp in Harlow are inspired to drum, dance, and sing traditional African music.

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13 mins United Kingdom Director. Imruh Caesar, Menelik Shabazz

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A West Indian man working in Britain faces prejudice, suspicion and jealousy in this shocking early TV play.

53 mins United Kingdom Director. Cliff Owen

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25 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Hayes

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Captivating exploration of a young interracial friendship, set against Lancashire’s industrial landscape.

56 mins United Kingdom Director. Jack Gold

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You in Your Small Corner 1962

Lloyd Reckord stars as a gifted student confronting the race and class divide in 1960s Brixton.

82 mins United Kingdom Director. Claude Whatham

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Tunde's Film 1973

Tired of being hassled by the police and with no job opportunities, a group of teenage East End lads plan to rob a bank.

42 mins United Kingdom Director. Maggie Pinhorn, Tunde Ikoli

View The Heart Within
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Thrilling adventure set in London's docklands involving a young lad and a Trinidadian docker who's framed for murder.

59 mins United Kingdom Director. David Eady

View Carnival Fantastique
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Carnival Fantastique 1960

Vibrant documentary that captures Trinidad's famous street carnival in 1960.

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View Alexandra Park Pageant, 27 June 1970
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The beginning of a Mancunian tradition - could this be the first Moss Side Carnival?

8 mins United Kingdom

View Aerial Views of Yorkshire
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Aerial Views of Yorkshire 1979

A bird’s eye view of the tower blocks and new roads of 1970s Leeds contrasts nicely with the colourful and exuberant Caribbean Carnival, headed by an intriguingly titled banner.

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View Blacks Britannica
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Blacks Britannica 1978

British racism is discussed in the context of the class struggle in this powerful American documentary.

57 mins USA Director. David Koff

View The Sailor's Return
The Sailor's Return
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The Sailor's Return 1978

Fascinating tale, set in 19th century Dorset, of an African woman who faces prejudice when she falls in love with an Englishman.

103 mins United Kingdom Director. Jack Gold

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HD

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A progressive union boss is confronted with his family's prejudices when his daughter brings home her black boyfriend.

90 mins United Kingdom Director. Ted Kotcheff

View Dread Beat and Blood
Dread Beat and Blood
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Dread Beat and Blood 1979

Vibrant documentary portrait of dub poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson, fighting racism with the spoken word on the streets of 1970s Brixton.

45 mins United Kingdom Director. Franco Rosso

View Men of Two Worlds
Men of Two Worlds
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Men of Two Worlds 1946

Handsomely presented drama about a man caught between his privileged Western education and traditional African roots.

109 mins United Kingdom Director. Thorold Dickinson

View 28 June 1967: Town Moor Hoppings
28 June 1967: Town Moor Hoppings
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28 June 1967: Town Moor Hoppings 1967

A rap on rain and rates with Britain’s first black British broadcaster and the travelling showpeople at the Hoppings funfair in Newcastle.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Home Away from Home
Home Away from Home
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Home Away from Home 1993

A powerfully bittersweet image of the loneliness and sacrifice in migration stories, centred on a Nigerian-British family

11 mins United Kingdom Director. Maureen Blackwood

View Black Theatre of Britain
Black Theatre of Britain
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Black Theatre of Britain 1975

Interesting doc following the Black Theatre of Brixton, which produced more black plays in two years than the whole of English theatre had in the previous twenty-five.

11 mins United Kingdom Director. Ilan Moshenson

View Omega Rising
Omega Rising
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Omega Rising 1988

The women of Rastafari talk about their relationship to the movement’s development.

52 mins United Kingdom Director. D. Elmina Davis

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