Small Axe, an anthology drama series developed by Oscar-winning writer and director Steve McQueen, will be released later this year; the first episode is in remembrance of the 1970 Mangrove March. Set in the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, Small Axe, which consists of five hour-long stories, focuses on the profound experiences of London’s Caribbean community – heavily defined as they were by the need for constant resilience amidst experiences of racist opposition and discrimination.
The series title is inspired by a Jamaican proverb, “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe,” meaning that smaller voices within a community can successfully challenge and oppose those of the more powerful. Both John Boyega, of Star Wars fame, and Letitia Wright, who starred in Black Panther, appear in the series.
The first episode is Mangrove, which showcases the true story of the Mangrove 9 – a group of black activists who became involved in a highly publicised trial, following an incident in Notting Hill where police had arrested innocent protestors during a 1970 march. The trial was the first case to see judicial acknowledgment of racially motivated hate crimes committed by the Metropolitan Police.
Sunday 9 August marked 50 years since the Mangrove March, and McQueen chose to recognise the date by releasing an official trailer of Mangrove, in commemoration of the activists’ bravery. McQueen said, “I felt these stories needed to be shared. I wanted to re-live, re-evaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a Black British person.”
This highly anticipated series will premiere on BBC One and iPlayer this Autumn. Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger said, “This powerful drama is not to be missed.”