For those of you who opted out of the viewing of The Black Power Mixtape, you were denied the opportunity to view the Civil Rights and, redundantly, the Black Power Movement through the unbiased eyes of those who were not American. Through the eyes of the Swedish, it is easier to see what America would normally have left out of their news. It is harsh, but, oftentimes, the American news only shows its audience what said news wants them to see. The Swedish, who compiled the footage shown in the movie, have no such qualms as it would not make their country look any worse for wear. They were more “free” to show whatever it was that interested them.
The movie is loosely strung together in a series of segments broken down by years ranging from 1967 to 1975. Although each segment cannot focus on each of the important events of the year, the film focuses on a variety of subjects important to the year. Here, my ignorance was made note of as many of the events and people spoken about in the movie were unknown to me before its showing. For instance, the film opened by showing various speeches given by Stokely Carmichael in 1967 concerning his views on Black Power and the Civil Rights Movement. Here, Carmichael was asked about Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. and whether or not he agreed with his peaceful protesting methods. Carmichael remarked that, while he agreed with and admired what Dr. King was doing, he simply did not have the patience to wait for the “white man” to do something about it. He is famously quoted saying that the nonviolent works of Dr. King would only work if the opponent of the protesting had a “conscience. The American government has none.”
The film also extensively covered the trial and incarceration of Angela Davis. Among this footage and coverage included past and present interviews from Davis concerning her stance and opinions about the situation in American in the late 1960s and early 1970s. According to the film, a young African American boy shot and killed a judge and several others were killed in the gunfire that resulted from the event and the boy was then arrested. The gun he used to commit the shooting was said to be owned by Angela Davis herself and was then arrested and charged with being an accessory to murder. The whole premise for this case seems ludicrous, but it was considered a credible cause to arrest Davis. To me, however, this seemed like an excuse to arrest Davis and to avoid her from “sparking any more trouble.” She was, luckily, found not guilty in front of a jury of her “peers.”
The most enlightening component of the film, in my opinion, would be the section concerning the increasing drug problem among African Americans and other poverty stricken people in the early 1970s. Most of the history concerning this time period is focused on the Civil Rights movements, segregation, lynching and other cruel treatments of blacks, but it never focused on the problem people dealt with. Cocaine, marijuana, and heroin, drugs still vastly popular today, broke out in the early 1970s and devastated the lives of thousands of African Americans and other poor people. One of the most heartbreaking points made in this section was during an interview with a young adult woman. She told the interviewer how she often stole from her mother and was eventually forced to prostitute herself in order to supply the money needed to “get her fix.” To me, it explains one of the largest problems in our country today. The media, and often political figures, only focus on one of the bigger issues and push the rest to the back burner. Yes, the civil rights of African Americans was extremely important, but it also eclipsed many of the other important issues that would have vastly helped blacks and the rest of poor America during the time.
There were many enlightening points of the video, and it would be a bit too lengthy for me to mention them all in one post. The aforementioned points, however, are those I remembered most and thought were worth mentioning. I would recommend the film to anyone going to study African American history or even the history of America during this time period.