The Notting Hill Race Riots, 1958

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55 years ago, from 29th August – early September, the streets of London witnessed what Pathé News at the time rightly labelled a “shameful episode”. More than three hundred people suddenly attacked West Indian immigrants living on Bramley Road in Notting Hill, London.

British Pathé produced a short newsreel on the attacks. The film has a very different tone to the sort of news broadcasts one would see on television today, at least in Britain. It is an angry denunciation of the riots, containing a particularly powerful commentary which is worth repeating in full:

Something new and ugly raises its head in Britain. In Notting Hill Gate, only a mile or two from London’s West End – racial violence. An angry crowd of youths chases a negro into a green grocer shop while police reinforcements are called up to check the riot, one of many that have broken out here in a few days. The injured victim, a Jamaican, is taken to safety. But the police have not been able to reach all the trouble spots so promptly and the quietest street may flare up at any moment. The most disturbing feature of the riots is the suspicion that not all the troublemakers are locals, for some of the gangs who break windows or throw bottles or burning torches have arrived by car. Opinions differ about Britain’s racial problems. But the mentality which tries to solve them with coshes and broken railings has no place in the British way of life. This violence is evil and the law and public opinion must stamp it out.

The 1958 newsreel can be viewed online here.

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Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term as President of the United States yesterday in Washington D.C. His speech at the event emphasised the need to engage peacefully with the rest of the world and for the American people to unite in solving the problems of today. The issues highlighted were gender inequality, the gap between rich and poor, healthcare, global warming and immigration. One topic the newspapers have been focussing on, though, is gay rights, for Obama became the first president in history to touch on the issue in an inaugural address (Obama listed Stonewall alongside Seneca Falls and Selma). The full speech, courtesy of The New York Times’ YouTube channel, can be viewed below:

The British Pathé archive contains coverage of a great many previous inaugurations, not only of American Presidents, but of those from other countries as well. For the United States, the earliest appears to be of William G. Harding in 1921 and the most recent to be of President Nixon in 1969. The inaugurations in between can be viewed via this link.

The inauguration of Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States. Click the still to view the film.
The inauguration of Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States. Click the still to view the film.
Harry Truman takes the oath. Click the still to view the film.
Harry Truman takes the oath. Click the still to view the film.

View British Pathé’s collection of US Presidential Inaugurations here.