“You ask me, whether I approve of violence. I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense at all. Whether I approve of guns. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Some very good friends of mine were killed by bombs. Bombs that were planted by racists. I remember from the time I was very very small, I remember bombs exploding across the street – our house shaking.” – Angela Davis
The friends that Ms. Davis speaks of are the children (four little girls) who were killed in the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. On September 15, 1963, a white man was seen getting out of a white and turquoise Chevrolet car and placing a box under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Soon afterwards, the bomb exploded killing Denise McNair, 11, Addie Mae Collins, 14, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14. The four girls had been attending Sunday school classes at the church.
I think we could argue that the legacy of the Black Power Movement really hasn’t been properly placed in context. Historically vilified by some, or fetishized by others, its effect and influence on other political movements still isn’t widely acknowledged and celebrated, unlike the earlier Civil Rights Movement. Swedish director Goran Hugo Olsson’s empowering Sundance 2011 entry, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, produced by Danny Glover, attempts to contextualize the movement, at home and abroad, highlight its successes and failures, and note its importance today; it wants to raise awareness and reignite penetrating discussion in the movement, by introducing it to a new global generation, in a format that may be more accessible to them – the concept we call the “mixtape,” hence the title. The story goes… the late 60s/early 70s saw Swedish interest in the US Civil Rights Movement peak; and with a demonstrated combination of commitment and naivete, Swedish filmmakers, armed with 16mm photography and sound equipment, driven partly by what they perceived to be a shared objective with the Black Power Movement (broadly, equal rights for all), traveled across the Atlantic to investigate and explore that specific movement, in order to confirm or nullify its purposefully negative portrayal by the U.S. press.