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Music on the Streets

Music as Protest

Leeds used music to campaign against racism in the 1970s and 1980s. This short film with Marcia Brown explores the origins and impact of the Rock against Racism movement in Leeds. Rock Against Racism (RAR) was a grass roots movement which organised gigs to show resistance to the growing popularity of the National Front. Starting in London in 1978, it soon spread through the UK. 

A copy of a magazine with 'Melody Maker' written in white on a red background and a black and white photo of a band 'The Gang of Four' on the front.
Melody Maker Newspaper 1979: 'The Gang Of Four'


Use the film to spark a discussion about music and activism. Music can change the world – what would you change? What do you believe in? How can you showcase that? How far have we come since the 1970s? How much more is there still to do? What can we learn from protests of the past? How can we change our futures?

Use Khadijah Ibrahim’s poem of lived experience at 8:52 as historical evidence or as a starting point for your own performance poetry and build it into music.

See the Supporting Links for more information about the original 1978 movement and carnival in London and images from Leeds.