Brian Richardson

After the riots

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The riots that exploded on the streets of London and other English cities last month provoked a vicious backlash by politicians and the media. Brian Richardson argues that the rage people expressed was rooted in the grinding poverty and injustice at the heart of British society.


Photo: Guy Smallman

How many rivers do we have to cross
Before we can talk to the boss?
All we have it seems we have lost
We must have really paid a cost

The many lives of Malcolm X

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Manning Marable, an academic and activist, died in April this year, just three days before the release of his biography of Malcolm X, the great icon of the Black Power Movement.Brian Richardson looks at this landmark book and the extraordinary life of Malcolm X

Malcolm X is unquestionably the great icon of the Black Power Movement. His emergence in the mid-1960s sparked one of the most exciting and dramatic episodes in the history of black struggle in the United States. There had been a rising tide of anti-racist struggle from the mid-1950s onwards. The Civil Rights Movement led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr succeeded both in desegregating many municipal and private facilities across the Southern states and forcing the US federal government into passing civil and voting rights legislation in 1964 and 1965.

The Tempest Tales

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Walter Mosley, Black Classic Press, £16.99

Walter Mosley is one of the most prolific US authors of today. Best known for his series of crime novels featuring reluctant private detective Easy Rawlins, he has also written science fiction, children's books and non-fiction essays reflecting critically on the state of the US and its role in the world.

Stories of Black Britain in Pictures

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Author Paul Gilroy tells Brian Richardson why he hopes images of past moments of everyday life and struggle will inspire a new generation

Your new book, Black Britain: a photographic history, is a very different type of book from those that have made your name. What persuaded you to curate and write a book based around photographs?

Nationality: Wog

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Kester Aspden, Jonathan Cape, £12.99

In the introduction to his book, author Kester Aspden boldly declares his belief that "the hounding of David Oluwale says something about Britain then and now." Initially this appears a brave, but injudicious assertion on a number of counts.

Firstly it is a story about a very specific set of circumstances, namely those surrounding the death of a 38-year-old Nigerian immigrant. Secondly, the events the book discusses took place nearly 40 years ago in a city almost unrecognisable from what Leeds had metamorphosed into by the early 1990s.

James Brown - Doing it to Death

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In life James Brown was a consummate entertainer whose live performances were the stuff of legend. It seems almost typical of the old showman that he finally bowed out on 25 December 2006.

Indeed one half expected the solemn Christmas morning newscaster to announce that the self styled Godfather had not died at all; that in melodramatic fashion, he had been led back onto the stage of life wearing his trademark robes and crown. It was not to be.

New New Orleans

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Review of 'After The Storm', editor David Dante Troutt, The New Press £13.99

"How could a loving god allow this to happen to so many people?"

In his foreword to After the Storm, Derrick Bell suggests that this question was posed by many bewildered people in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina last year. Heart-wrenching though the question is, it fails to address two fundamental realities.

Music Will Free Itself

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Review of Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble, Touring

Gilad Atzmon is arguably the most outstanding artist to emerge on the British jazz scene in recent years. He can hardly be described as new, having recorded nine albums in the past decade, as well as performing with musicians as diverse as Ian Dury, Paul McCartney, Sinead O'Connor and perhaps most bizarrely, Robbie Williams. It is in recent years however that his star has shone most brightly - firstly with the release of the 2003 BBC Jazz Album of the Year Exile, followed last year by the widely acclaimed Musik.

Bob Marley: Roots Revolutionary

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The 60th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth is a great opportunity to celebrate his inspirational music, writes Brian Richardson.

Legend is the title of the one reggae album that every broad-minded progressive is guaranteed to have in their record collection. The word has become somewhat devalued through overuse, but few terms could more aptly describe the Jamaican music star Bob Marley. His iconic status is cemented by the fact that he died at the tender age of 36. Since then, like another 'soul rebel' Che Guevara, his handsome face has been immortalised on the T-shirts and bedroom posters of millions of young people.

The anguish and the optimism

Style and Society: Say it Loud, Still Black and Proud

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Brian Richardson explores how black culture has shaped post-war society.

Walk down any major high street or into any youth space in Britain and before long you will be confronted by the unmistakable signature of black British style. A uniform of hooded tops, trainers or Timberland boots and unfeasibly low-slung trousers.

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