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>Grove Roots

>I went to see a film last week about the cultural history of the Ladbroke Grove area at the Electric Cinema in west London. It was made by eight local young people.

As artist Toby Laurence Belsen, says in the film: “The history of Ladbroke Grove is fundamental to the history of this country, whether people like it or not.”

How? The documentary reminds us that the Notting Hill Carnival began as a response to the dire state of race relations in the UK in the 1950s. The UK’s first race riots had occurred in the area in 1958.

The documentary explores the riots of 1976, the experiences of immigrants in the area, profiles heroes like civil rights activist Claudia Jones (now featured on a stamp) and examines the inherent racism in the ruling classes, who failed to inform the masses that many of the Windrush generation that had come over had been invited. Many had British passports and been asked to help rebuild the country post-WWII.

It also looks at how the cultural spark that made the area so edgy in decades gone by for artists and young people (inspiring The Clash Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, among others) is slowly falling prey to the corporate pound.

Those interviewed in the area say even the Notting Hill carnival has lost its heart to big business sponsors.

The community spirit these local residents bemoan may be gone but that’s not to say another type of spirit does not exist. The fact that this film has been made at all shows that.

As one person pointed out at the end of the screening, the young people who made it should not be given a pat on the back and the film cast aside as another community project. It should be shown in all local schools, to educate future generations about the history of the area. There would be a gaping hole in our knowledge if it wasn’t.

For screening times: http://www.octaviafoundation.org.uk or phone 020 8354 5592

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About Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Herpreet Kaur Grewal is a newspaper-trained journalist, editor and commentator. She formerly wrote and edited a section for the social policy and politics magazine Regeneration & Renewal. She has worked for The Times of London and her articles have featured in The Guardian, The Observer and The Daily Express. She specialises in social deprivation issues, gender, human rights , arts and culture.

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Herpreet Kaur Grewal is a journalist and commentator currently based in New York City.

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