A fragmented look back at the civil rights movement

 

By Rene Rodriguez | rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

Just like its title implies, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is more a mélange than a complete, polished film. But the patchwork style of the movie, which was assembled from recently discovered news footage shot by Swedish TV crews, works in its favor. By jumping around among previously unseen interviews with civil-rights pioneers, the film presents a fresh perspective on familiar history.

Arriving, of all places, in Hallandale Beach in 1967, the filmmakers immediately set out to distinguish the difference between life for middle-class, white Americans and the often-impoverished blacks whose lives were still affected by segregation.

Much of the movie is comprised of interviews with activists such as Stokely Carmichael, then chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who criticizes Martin Luther King’s call for African Americans to boycott public bus transportation (“In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience, and the United States does not”). Carmichael’s more playful side is seen a few minutes later, when he takes over for a TV reporter and interviews his mother in her living room.

Other interviews include a jailhouse talk with Angela Davis, who answers questions pointedly while awaiting trial for murder, and an awesomely charismatic Louis Farrakhan, who participates in a sit-down conversation just before he becomes leader of the Nation of Islam. Footage of school children singing “Guns! Pick up the guns!” speaks for itself; other clips, such as one of Harry Belafonte meeting with Martin Luther King, features a recently recorded commentary by the singer who shares his recollections of the day.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is punctuated by voiceovers from people such as Abiodun Oyewole, founder of The Last Poets, who compares the United States to “a dumb puppy with teeth that bite and hurt,” and smatterings of music from the period to the present. The result is far from a complete or well-rounded history of the Black Power movement, but the film’s eclectic nature — along with the odd Swedish slant of the segments — make it undeniably entertaining and occasionally illuminating.

Movie Info

With: Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton, Louis Farrakhan, Stokely Carmichael.

Director: Göran Hugo Olsson.

Producer: Annika Rogell.

Running time: 94 minutes. In Swedish and English with English subtitles. Plays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and 10 p.m. Friday at Regal South Beach.

Speak Up!