From The Windrush to the White House – Film Season

Author Roger Griffith gives his rationale behind choosing his double-film bill which was screened to a packed audience at the Watershed on 17th May 2015  These films compliments his book My American Odyssey From the Windrush to the White House

  Roger is one of the team of Come The Revolution curators  supported by Bristol Watershed and Bristol Festival of Ideas.

  1. The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement 

25 min – Documentary | Short | History  – 2011 (USA) directed by Gail Dolgin & Robin Fryday

This Oscar Academy nominated documentary short film features the 85-year-old James Armstrong, an African American barber in Birmingham, Alabama, as he witnesses the fruition of an unimaginable dream. This was the election of the first African-American president of the United States of America. Armstrong was not only a flag-bearer on the famed Selma to Montgomery march of 1965 he was also a World War II veteran. His voter registration campaigns first helped African-Americans gain the vote who later helped an African-American enter the White House

Chosen by me as this summarises the second half of my journey from segregation to the White House and spent some time in the Birmingham barbershops which also doubled up as masonic temple halls where Dr Martin Luther King spoke at. I have attended commemorative rallies in Selma dubbed Sunday Bloody Sunday and I was there to see Barack Obama enter the White House on 20th January 2009

  1. Nothing But a Man – Michael Roemer (1964) 95 mins. Drama, USA

Heart-rending brutal portrayal of Black masculinity in one man’s fight for existence and self-respect. Reputedly Malcolm X’s favourite film and beneath the harsh layers of this black and white masterpiece it’s easy to identify why.

Chosen by me because the subject matter does not show the brutal physical scars of racism such as murders or lynchings. Instead Jewish director Michael Roemer who himself escaped the Nazi’s, tells the systematic struggle of the daily battle against racism money, dignity and pride to defy badly drawn stereotypes – angry black man, uppity n*gg*r. It includes a great Motown soundtrack with tracks from a 12 year old ‘Little’ Stevie Wonder’s debut single Fingertips, Mary Wells and Martha and the Vandellas. The film also explores issues of class, poverty, manhood and being a father and son in one man’s battle against the world….and himself.


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