Steve McQueen, Hollywood Oscar Winning Director chose BME London Landlord’s member Odu-Dua Housing Association’s offices in West Hampstead to set the scene of the Mangrove restaurant to depict an important seminal moment in race relations in the early 1970’s.
Sunday 15th November sees the premiere of Steve McQueen’s much awaited Small Axe series starting with Mangrove. This is an important watch for anyone who wants to gain some understanding of how the Caribbean community of Notting Hill have played a central role in the fight for Black, and Asian right’s in the face of open racism by Police and the state. The Mangrove Nine, is buried in folklore within the Black community as young black people who took on the might of the UK justice system, when every was against them, representing themselves in a court of law and winning.
Mangrove tells the true story of Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes), whose West Indian restaurant, Mangrove, a lively community hub in London’s Notting Hill attracted locals, activists, intellectuals and artists. In a reign of blatant racial discrimination, Crichlow finds himself and his drug-free business the brunt of relentless police raids. In a bid to stop the discrimination and ruination of their community base, Frank and his friends take to the streets in peaceful protest in 1970, only to be met by police aggression.
As a result, nine men and women, including Frank, leader of the British Black Panther Movement Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Letitia Wright), and activist Darcus Howe (Malachi Kirby), are wrongly arrested and charged with incitement to riot and affray. A highly publicised trial ensues, leading to a hard-fought win.
Neil Ayre Chief Executive of Odu Dua Housing Association shared ‘not only did we want to help to ensure the Mangrove 9 story could be told but the filming also paid for our office to be done up without need of taking cash away from customer facing services’.
…..’the significance of the production company using our offices, is the same type of community activism that saw itself become established as a community facing enterprise catering to the needs of the Black Caribbean and Black Community. Neil Ayre stated further that ‘the activists that set up Odu-Dua, Shian, Imani Housing Coop, Westway, Inquilab and Ekaya HA’s, other members of BME London Landlords, were standing on the shoulders of the original activists like the Mangrove 9 and that was the real reason for us getting involved. How could we not recognise that link between ourselves and our predecessors’. With all that has happened this summer, it’s only right that we reflect on those who had the courage to stand up for what was right.’
Maybe we all can take something from this history and summon the courage to make sure everyone ensures we change society for the better when it comes to race and structural inequality.