[Originally published in The Guardian] It's a Sunday afternoon in Notting Hill in west London. People are milling around the foyer
of the Coronet cinema, in anticipation of the film that's about to start. It's not the latest Harry Potter or Hollywood action blockbuster, though. These 300 people – mostly black British men and women age 25 and upwards, with some young children and teenagers in tow – are there to watch the first offering from Rapture Film Club, a new monthly club dedicated to the screening of black films.
Twenty years ago, during the heyday of black British film, clubs of this kind were common. Now, it seems, they are returning. In recent years, notwithstanding a handful of critically acclaimed films such as 2006's Kidulthood, the number of programmes and films aimed at black audiences in the UK has fallen. Priscilla Igwe, the brains behind Rapture, does not believe this was due to a lack of audience interest. "I think there is a gap in Briti…
[Originally published in The Economist]
But America’s oldest civil-rights outfit is redefining its role
DURING the summer of 1908, riots raged through Abraham Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois. The quiet removal of two black men who had been held in prison as suspects in two separate attacks on white people enraged the white community. They took out their anger on black residents and black-owned businesses and properties. The riots went on for two days and simmered for longer; seven people were killed and some $200,000 worth of damage was done.
The following February, partly in response to the Springfield riots, a group of Jewish, white and black activists met in New York to found the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) whose aim was, and remains, to ensure “the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”.
The NAACP celebrated its centenary on Feb…