feature: ‘rock against racism’ – upcoming exhibition of syd shelton’s documentary photography

August 24, 2015

Between 1976 and 1981, the movement Rock Against Racism (RAR) took over Britain – its primary aim: confront racist ideology. Formed by a collective of musicians and political activists (with the slogan ‘Love Music, Hate Racism’), RAR fought fascism and racism by organizing concerts across the country; putting reggae and punk bands on the same stage. British photojournalist Syd Shelton was the RAR’s official photographer, and his documentation of the movement will now have its first major exhibition in October. Autograph ABP, producers of the exhibit, state: “Syd Shelton’s photographs document the volatility of a country divided across race, class and gender. They expose the ferocity of cultural difference being hammered out on Britain’s streets through the late 1970s, at a time when racist skinheads danced to Jamaican ska, punks embraced reggae and black kids reached out to punk.” The photographer is quoted as saying, “In collaboration with UK reggae and punk bands, RAR members took on the orthodoxy through five carnivals and some 500 gigs throughout Britain. In those five years, the National Front went from a serious electoral threat into political oblivion.” Watch the video below and CLICK HERE for information on the exhibition.

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor



Syd Shelton, Specials Fans. RAR / ANL Carnival Against the Nazis. Potternewton Park, Leeds, 1981