Black Power Mixtape – Review

Posted: January 16, 2012 by chuckspears in Art, Film, social issues
Tags: , , , , ,

Black Power Mixtape

I’m a little late in the game getting around to watching this documentary, it was released in the summer of 2011. I saw it today at the Theater at The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was a free viewing in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Essentially it’s lost footage from a Swedish crew of filmmakers that were chronicling the treatment of blacks in the United States of America.

The film begins with a speech by Stokely Carmichael in 1967 where he says he admires Dr. King and his ideals, but feels that they are based on a fallacy. The nonviolent resistance can only work if the aggressors feel sympathy or regret for treating a human being so inhumanely. Human beings that are peacefully protesting their detestable conditions unarmed and having no intention to physically retaliate to their opponents that sic attack dogs on them, gas them and blast pressurized hoses at them. The oppressive forces would see that they are agents of injustice. Carmichael says the fallacy here was that we couldn’t expect sympathy because America’s prevailing sentiment towards it’s citizens of African descent at the time lacked a conscience.

The framework of the film is to follow the leadership of various activist organizations in the black community from 1967-1975. This framework effectively demonstrates the evolution of the Black Power Movement and how it became more intense after the assassination of Dr. King. The audience witnesses the rioting that occurred after Dr. King’s death and the the government’s extreme response to the unrest and anger the African-American’s felt having lost a noble leader. The film then changes it’s focus to the Black Panther Party and offers a glimpse of several of it’s known spokespeople. The most moving to me was Angela Davis where she was being interviewed in prison. She gave a heartfelt account to why she believed in the effectiveness and the necessity of the ideals of the Black Panther Party, basing her argument on her experiences as a child in Alabama. She recounted how a church bombing affected her family and her community. How the intolerance of racism in America created a need for African-Americans to arm themselves as a defense against the brutal realities of injustice towards them.

All through the documentary we are given insight by way of voice-over from some of the activists from that era as well as some modern musicians that have strong political messages in the catalog of songs. Questlove of Hip-Hop Band the Roots provides the score and music soundtrack and is a co-producer for the film.

It’s currently streaming on Netflix and is available on DVD.

  1. […] Chuck Spears props for holding down the blog while I been MIA (and check out his review of the Black Power Mixtape as an MLK tribute/offering… nicely done, bro).  For the past couple of months, I’ve […]

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