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Small Axe and Mangrove

Aug. 09, 2020

Something to look out for - Small Axe

Legendary British director Steve McQueen has a new 5-part series coming later this year that centres on London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.

The series will consist of five distinct hour-long films and highlights individuals who faced systemic racism and opression in their communities but nevertheless, rose up to fight against this for themselves and other generations.

Its title derives from an African proverb used across the Caribbean and made famous by Bob Marley and the Wailer’s 1973 album Burnin’: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.”

Mangrove

The trailer for one of the films, Mangrove, has been released to mark the 50th anniversary of the Mangrove March on 9th August.

The Mangrove restaurant was an important meeting space for the black community in the Notting Hill area. It was frequently raided by the police, on grounds of drug possession, despite a lack of evidence. The black community staged a protest in response, on 9 August 1970. 150 people marched to the local police station.

The Mangrove Nine were a group of British black activists tried for inciting a riot at this protest. Their trial lasted 55 days but eventually they were all acquitted of the most serious charges. The trial is important because it was the first judicial acknowledgement of behaviour motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police.

We definitely recommend watching this series to learn more about the struggles and successes of the Caribbean community in London. It should be aired on BBC later in the year.

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