Last night, I re-watched Goran Hugo Olsson’s found-footage stunner, “The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975,” and I was reminded of how powerful some of the archival material is, so powerful, in fact, that I dare say that activist Angela Davis’ rare jailhouse interview monologue ranks as one of the greatest scenes–and most memorable performances–that I’ve seen in a movie all year.
If there was a category on year-end best lists for best monologue, I would place Davis’ 40-year-old rant about what violent resistance means to a black person on the top of that list. “You ask me, whether I approve of violence?” she responds to her interviewer. “When someone asks me about violence, I just find it incredible. Because what it means is that the person asking that question has absolutely no idea what black people have gone through, what black people have experienced in this country since the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.” And it goes on and on, gathering even greater conviction and evidence, as her expansive afro dominates the screen, creating a kind of graphic representation of her power, despite her confined surroundings.
Steely, wounded, angry, frustrated, defeated and defiant, Davis expresses so many emotions, and such a fierce rhetorical argument, that I don’t think anyone who sees the clip could argue with her about the need for a strong–and yes, possibly violent, if pushed–response to oppression. For all those fighting in the Occupy movement, this clip is for you: