Culture / Film

‘Uprising’ — Steve McQueen’s latest docuseries plunges into Britain’s history of racial inequality

Steve McQueen plunges into Britain's history of Black Power and Black resistance in his latest documentary series Uprising, aptly titled after Bob Marley's final studio album. Often overlooked for the Civil Rights Movement in the US, McQueen explores three events that were the catalysts for the U.K's racial reckoning.

Helmed by Steve McQueen and James Rogan, Uprising will be split into three episodes, each one focusing on a separate incidents. The first delves into the harrowing 1981 New Cross Fire that killed 13 Black children and teenagers. All these years later, despite eyewitnesses, family members and local history declaring otherwise, official investigations have never acknowledged the fire as an act of racial violence. Following the fire, an unprecedented, mass protest of over 20,000 Black britons took place. Known as the Black People’s Day of Action, this is the subject of the second Uprising episode. The final episode will follow the Brixton Riots that took place in April 1981 between metropolitan Police and Black youth — a watershed moment for race relations in Britain.

Originally made for the BBC, Uprising premiered in the U.K. in July this year and will debut on Amazon Prime midway through September. As well as directing, McQueen will also executive produce for Uprising; along with Nancy Bornat, Soleta Rogan, Tracey Scoffield, Anna Smith Tenser, David Tanner and Vivienne Steele.

Set for release alongside Uprising are two more documentaries with McQueen onboard as executive producer. Black Power: A British Story of Resistance and Subnormal: A British Scandal both tell tales of Black history in Britain that mainstream media and narratives have buried. The First plunges in to the Black Power movement in Britain, featuring rare footage of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael’s movements in the U.K.. While the latter traces how Black children were disproportionately sent to schools for for the so-called “educationally subnormal" throughout the 60s and 70s in England. Both documentaries detail Black resistance in Britain and reckon with Englands not-so-distant past of white supremacy.

All three documentaries will be released on Amazon Prime Video this September 17. Watch the trailer for Uprising below.

Looking to learn more about race, history and power? Here is a list of books about race as compiled by the RUSSH community.

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