As part of the BBC’s small axe series, award-winning director Steve McQueen is bringing to light one of the most important events in British Civil Rights history. Mangrove tells the true story of the Mangrove Nine, a group of Black activists who were arrested protesting against institutional racism in the police 50 years ago.
Decades before the events of this summer, Black people were protesting against the discrimination they faced at the hands of the police in the UK. The Mangrove was an all-night Trinidadian restaurant in Notting Hill which opened its doors in 1968. It soon became a hub for Black people in the local area and caught the attention of the police, who began to repeatedly raid the Mangrove under the pretence of drug searches.
The local council, Kensington and Chelsea withdrew the all-night cafe licence. Owner Frank Crichlow organised a peaceful protest starting outside the restaurant against racist attacks on the Mangrove. Police arrived and wrongly arrested nine people for incitement to riot.
Five were acquitted of all charges against them and four received suspended sentences for lesser charges. The trial was landmark for a variety of reasons, but in particular, because it led to racial discrimination by police being acknowledged for the first time in UK law. The group also managed to get two Black people appointed as members of the jury, so they would get a fairer hearing.
But what did the Mangrove Nine go on to do after and where are they now?
Boyce was one of the nine who received a suspended sentence for lesser offences. Per Byline Times, Boyce is no longer living, however not much else is publicly available about his life in the years after his arrest.
Crichlow was the owner of the Mangrove restaurant and he planned the protest. He was born in Trinidad, coming over to the UK in 1953. In 1956 formed the Starlight Four band. He had three children, one of whom is actor Lenora Crichlow known for Sugar Rush and Black Mirror. Sadly Crichlow died in 2010 of cancer.
Gordon studied agriculture in Granada before moving to the UK to continue his education. After receiving a suspended sentence as one of the Mangrove Nine, Gordon formed the Black People's Information Centre, offering free legal advice and charity Unity Association which trained young people in vocational skills. He continued his activism and worked to support and advocate for African and Caribbean communities in the UK. He died in 2018.
Following the trial, Howe continued his activist work, founding Race Today Collective which published studies into race in Britain and the magazine Race Today which documented the efforts of racial justice campaigns around the world. Per the Guardian, Howe and the Race Today Collective organised a protest of 20,000 people following the New Cross Fire in which 13 young people died in a suspected racist attack. He later became involved in broadcasting, creating documentaries and current affairs programs for Channel 4. He also wrote columns for the Evening Standard and the New Statesman. He had three children, Amir Howe, Tamara Howe (who is now head of Vice's broadcasting arm), and Darcus Beese. Howe died in 2017.
Innis was one of the Nine arrested and was also acquitted for the main charges of incitement to riot. Little information is publicly available about what happened to Innis following the Mangrove Nine trial.
Jones-LeCointe (played by Letitia Wright in Mangrove) is a research physicist and activist. She was born in Tinidad and came to Britain in 1965 to study for a PhD in biochemistry at University College London. She was leader of the British Black Panther Party in the 1960s and '70s. She and Barbara Beese are the only two surviving members of the Mangrove Nine.
Known as Roddy Kentish, he was born in Kingston Jamaican. He faced a separate trial to the rest of the nine and was sentenced to 36 months. After the trial, he continued his activist work, fighting for improved housing conditions in West London, helping set up the Notting Hill Children’s Carnival, and later founding the Teamwork Training Scheme, an initiative which taught unemployed local young people woodwork, mechanics and electronics skills. He died aged 87 in 2019.
Millet was also one of the Nine arrested and was acquitted for the main charges of incitement to riot, little information is publicly available about his life after the trial.
Mangrove premiers on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday, Nov. 15.
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