Many comparisons have been drawn between today’s political climate and the 1970’s, with increasing support for the far right and a rise in racist hate crimes.
One response to the racial conflict of the 70’s was the establishment of ‘Rock Against Racism’, a campaign which used music as a way to combat discrimination, culminating in the well-known Rock Against Racism (RAR) Festival. Featuring bands such as The Clash and Steel Pulse, the event was a turning point in the relationship between music and racism.
Following the success of ‘RAR’ and with history somewhat repeating itself in 2017, it was only a matter of time before an event of this nature resurfaced. On the 24th February, at The Crossing in Birmingham, people gathered to celebrate local talent and diversity whilst making a stand against racism. The night began with performance poets from the likes of Amerah Saleh and Alan (Kurly) McGeachie, covering topics of inequality and injustice on a global scale. They controlled the crowd through moments of both deep poignancy and lively celebration.
Leading on from a fabulous introduction to the night, live music acts such as Namiwa Jazz and Elektrik showed the best of what the West Midlands music scene has to offer. The charismatic presenters led the audience in numerous chants and described their own personal experiences. The headline acts brought the night to a show-stopping climax, with Basil Gabbidon (founding member of RAR’s Steel Pulse) and The Gabbidon Band performing original hits with political undertones that are fundamentally still relevant to the present day. People of all ages united to enjoy music from one of the best Reggae bands to come out of England and following on from them, The Beat Goes Bang continued this electric vibe as the crowd danced the night away.
This was a great way to relaunch ‘Love Music Hate Racism’, and evidence of the wide base of support for antiracist initiatives in the community. We managed to raise £2000 towards local transport for March Against Racism on UN anti-racism day on March 18th in London. Let’s keep up the momentum and bring the energy down to London, and get ready to make some noise on the LMHR bloc.