Brian Richardson

You Say You Want A Revolution?

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This exhibition is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve visited plenty in my time so that’s a bold assertion but one I make without hesitation.

Taking its title from the first line of The Beatles 1968 song “Revolution”, it leads you on an interactive journey through the years 1966 to 1970, combining art, costume, film, music and propaganda.

As you embark, you are invited not simply to reflect upon times past, but to consider their contemporary relevance and the lessons we can learn for the world we live in today.

Black Lives Matter

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The rise of Black Lives Matter in the US marks an end to the Civil Rights movement's claim that black people in high places could be the solution for all, writes Brian Richardson

“Hands up, don’t shoot!” “I can’t breathe.” These slogans have emerged based on reports of the last desperate actions and words uttered by Michael Brown and Eric Garner before they died at the hands of the police in Ferguson Missouri and New York City in 2014. In the wake of these atrocities, a new movement, Black Lives Matter, was born and protests erupted across the US.

Undercover

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Legal dramas are invariably bedevilled by overacting and wild scenarios which bear little comparison with what really goes on in the criminal justice system. These misgivings aside, I was attracted by the presence of two talented black actors, Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester in the lead roles as Maya and Nick.

Episode 1 begins with a flourish. A juggernaut bears down on Maya’s car as she struggles to answer a crucial phone call. She is racing to Louisiana where her client Rudy Jones is waiting to be executed.

Stand up and be counted

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As activists mobilise for UN Anti Racism Day, Brian Richardson assesses the state of racism in Britain and across Europe, and asks what anti-racists' priorities should be in the coming period.

The late Labour prime minister Harold Wilson is widely reported to have declared that “a week is a long time in politics” during a period of economic crisis in the 1960s. Literally speaking this well-worn cliché is, of course, wrong. There is, however, some truth in the dictum that sudden and unexpected events can dramatically transform the political landscape. Such has been the case both in Britain and across Europe over the past 12 months.

A brief history of seven Bob Marley songs

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Marlon James’s wonderful novel A Brief History of Seven Killings was the worthy winner of last year’s Man Booker prize. It takes as its starting point a dramatic real life event — the attempted assassination of Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley in December 1976.

Marley survived the attack, defiantly performing at the open air benefit concert which sparked the controversy that led to the shooting. Later he addressed his assailants in the song “Ambush in the Night”.

Between the World and Me

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Between the World and Me is one of the most powerful and poignant pieces of literature that I have read this year.

I say read — in actual fact, I downloaded and listened to it on audiotape before subsequently buying a hard copy. Given that it is an extended letter from the author to his teenage son, listening to him narrate his own words added to its impact.

Revolts after slavery

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Colonial oppression continued after the abolition of slavery - and so did the struggles against it. Brian Richardson commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica.

We are encouraged to believe that history is made by Great White Men. It is they who are responsible for the rise and fall of civilisations, for technological advances and the development of art and culture. Black people are generally restricted to walk on parts.

That was quite literally the case in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning biopic Lincoln. At the outset two black soldiers are seen pleading with their leader to abolish slavery. There is no sense of them fighting for their own emancipation.

All Involved

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All Involved, Ryan Gattis’s latest novel, is one of the most eagerly anticipated books of 2015. It is set in Los Angeles and begins on 29 April 1992, the day that a jury acquitted three LAPD officers of using excessive force in the arrest of a black man, Rodney King.

As the novel’s glossary helpfully informs us, “all involved” is slang for “someone participating in gang activity”. As riots erupted across the city in the week after the acquittals, many of LA’s gangs exploited the opportunity to settle scores.

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