Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Steve McQueen’s Uprising films speak powerfully to the Britain of today | Martin Kettle

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From the Black People’s Day of Action to the riots in 1981, the events of that year resonate profoundly in 2021

Forty years ago, following the most intense and widespread urban disorder in 20th century Britain, the Times journalist Lucy Hodges and I co-wrote a book on the riots of 1981. In honour of Bob Marley, who died that spring, but also to try to convey the immensity of the events, we named the book after Marley’s final studio album: Uprising.

This week, in the wake of his 2020 series Small Axe, Steve McQueen has launched three documentaries with James Rogan covering the New Cross fire and the Brixton riots of 1981. They are broadcast on BBC1 this week. The title of the series is the same as our book, and surely for the exact same reasons: Uprising.

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