We’ll do anything to end racism. Perhaps we should take a lesson from Rock Against Racism (RAR).
Flashback: Britain, late-’70s. The country is deeply divided over immigration. The National Front, a far-right and fascist political party, is gaining strength. And countering this was Rock Against Racism, a movement that swept across the U.K. and Europe and culminated in a 100,000+ person march and a legendary concert event, think Woodstock meets the March on Washington, punk-style.
Capturing this incredible moment in time when music changed the world is director Rubika Shah’s award-winning documentary, White Riot.
Expanding on her documentary short White Riot: London
, Shah’s energizing film charts the rise of Rock Against Racism (RAR), formed in 1976, prompted by “music’s biggest colonialist” Eric Clapton and his support of racist MP Enoch Powell. The brisk, informative White Riot
blends fresh, engaging interviews with RAR staff and musicians with archival footage to recreate a hostile environment of anti-immigrant hysteria and National Front marches.
As neo-Nazis recruited the nation’s youth, RAR’s multicultural punk and reggae gigs provided rallying points for resistance. The campaign grew from “Temporary Hoarding,” the movement’s fanzine to 1978’s huge antifascist concert in Victoria Park, featuring X-Ray Spex, Tom Robinson, Steel Pulse and, of course, The Clash, whose rock star charisma and gale-force conviction took RAR’s message to the masses. White Riot chronicles this “extraordinary fusion of culture and politics that changed society for the better.” (Jackson Caines, Glass Magazine).