Small Axe: The True Story of Darcus Howe's Impact on the UK's Black Power Movement

The first episode of Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe officially premiered on Nov. 20, and we’re already enthralled. The series is a collection of five original movies that explore the Black experience in the UK from the 1960s through the 1980s. The debut film, titled “Mangrove,” details the trial of nine Black activists who were charged with inciting riots in 1970. The accusation occurred after they protested police harassment of customers at The Mangrove, a Caribbean restaurant in Notting Hill where Black intellectuals and creatives often socialized.

One of the key figures and defendants in the trial was Darcus Howe (played by Malachi Kirby), who chose to represent himself. Born Leighton Rhett Radford Howe, the Trinidad native moved to London at the age of 18 after attending Queen’s Royal College with the intent to become a lawyer. However, after experiencing racism in Britain in the early 1960s, he moved back to Trinidad and decided to pursue journalism instead. Throughout the decade, Howe played an influential role in the Black Power movement in both the US and the Caribbean, meeting with activists such as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael.

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