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INDEPENDENT LENS: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Airs Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Angela Davis at the San Rafael County Prison, 1972. Davis is an American political activist, scholar and author.

Combining startlingly fresh and candid 16mm footage that had lain undiscovered in the cellar of Swedish Television for the past 30 years, with contemporary audio interviews from leading African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, ”The Black Power Mixtape” looks at the people, society, culture and style that fueled an era of convulsive change, 1967-1975.

Music is the Message

The soundtrack to America’s civil rights movement before the mid-1960s was predominantly made up of gospel standards and spirituals, with a smattering of popular folk. But by the late 1960s, music was changing right along with the political landscape. Check out our virtual mixtape of soul, funk, and jazz tunes and audio clips from that period.

Eldridge Cleaver, a leader in the Black Panther Party, San Francisco, 1968.
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Above: Eldridge Cleaver, a leader in the Black Panther Party, San Francisco, 1968.

Black Panthers Headquarters, San Francisco, 1971.
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Above: Black Panthers Headquarters, San Francisco, 1971.

Utilizing an innovative format that riffs on the popular 1970s mixtape format, this is a cinematic and musical journey into the black communities of America.

At the end of the '60s and into the early '70s, Swedish interest in the U.S. civil rights movement and the U.S. anti-war movement peaked. With a combination of commitment and naiveté, Swedish filmmakers traveled across the Atlantic to explore the Black Power movement, which was being alternately ignored or portrayed in the U.S. media as a violent, nascent terrorist movement.

Despite the obstacles they encountered, both from the conservative white American power establishment and from radicalized movement members themselves, the Swedish filmmakers stayed committed to their investigation, and ultimately formed bonds with key figures in the movement.

This newly discovered footage offers a penetrating examination — through the lens of Swedish filmmakers — of the Black Power movement from 1967 to 1975, and its worldwide resonance. The result is like an anthropological treatise on an exotic civilization from the point of view of outsiders who approached their subject with no assumptions or biases.

Independent Lens is on Facebook, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter.

Video

Trailer: Independent Lens: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

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Watch Looking Back at the Black Power Movement on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Video

A Civil Rights Firebrand Still Inspires Fascination and Fear

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Watch A Civil Rights Firebrand Still Inspires Fascination and Fear on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Above: Hip hop musician Talib Kweli recounts how he became a figure of interest to federal officials while he was researching the speeches of Stokely Carmichael ... 40 years after the fact.

Video

Video Excerpt: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975: Angela Davis

Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/2173082988

Watch A Miscarriage of Justice or Conspiracy to Silence? on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.

Above: In 1970, activist and scholar Angela Davis was charged with involvement in a criminal incident in which a young African American man attempted to help two black defendants escape from a California courtroom. In this 1972 interview with her lawyer, Dennis Roberts, he describes how the case against Ms. Davis was based solely on circumstantial evidence and was potentially a conspiracy against her.

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