'We are black. We are white. We are dynamite'...That was just one of the slogans sang at the seminal Northern Carnival Against The Nazis, which took place on 15th July 1978 at Alexandra Park in Manchester, with over 40,000 people.
This happened at a time when the National Front was trying to portray itself as 'respectable', and changed thousands of people's perceptions of the Nazi party.
Posters went up everywhere around Manchester, Salford and beyond stating that NF=No Fun. No Future. And fitted with the swirling punk anger at the time. The Northern Carnival brought punk and reggae together and made being anti-racist a lifestyle choice that was driven by ethics not consumerism.
This is just one of the reasons why it's totally relevant to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Northern Carnival, which is happening on Saturday 14th July at Manchester Central Library between noon and 5pm, followed by a Love Music Hate Racism gig at Night People. It will be nostalgia with a message that's bang on for today.
The event at Manchester Central Library, organised by the Manchester Digital Music Archive (MDMA) and the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, brings together the original organisers of the Carnival for a panel discussion, chaired by MDMA's Abigail Ward, while there will also be films of anti-racist demos back in the day and the launch of a related exhibition.
Panel members include Ramila Patel, then a member of the Bolton Asian Youth Movement, Bernie Wilcox, original organiser of Manchester Rock Against Racism, and Geoff Brown, original Anti-Nazi League organiser for Greater Manchester, who is looking to the past for answers to the present...
"Forty years on we're celebrating the day when it became cool to be anti-racist in Manchester, and we do this at a time when racism is being pushed by not just Donald Trump but the man who calls himself Tommy Robinson" he explains "Muslims are the target now, although it used to be black people. And now we look back and see how it was possible to fight this and have fun at the same time.
"Punk was a huge way of expressing the anger of the shit that young people had to face at the time and reggae was the black expression of it; and together they were incredibly powerful" he adds "I know nothing about grime but there is as much anger and energy expressed in music today if you know where to look for it.
"The commercialisation of music that's happened has meant that the ability to run something like we did is now replaced by Parklife, with 80,000 people paying £100 or whatever, and it's a major source of income for Manchester City Council – it's another world" he says "It doesn't have any political content at all but the anger amongst young people I would say is as strong as it's ever been. There's more young people asking what the fuck is going on in this world, and why is it that young people are not facing at least as decent a life as their own parents.
"Capitalism as a system cannot deliver for most people" he insists "The idea that you find a scapegoat is always wrong...but the question is 'Can we do something like we did forty years ago?'"
The answer to that question is set to be kickstarted at the event, and more fun comes later the same day when Love Music Hate Racism puts on a special Rock Against Racism anniversary gig at Night People on Princess Street, with loads of singers, bands and poets.*
"A group of Manchester folk have come together initially inspired by the memory of the great Carnival of 1978" state organisers Night People and Psychedelic DiscoTech "We want to do two things: first to commemorate that event but mainly to stimulate artistic activity in opposition to the poisonous propaganda of today's racism which, because it has gone mainstream, often goes unchallenged.
"Like before, we plan to use music as the medium to unite and build the fight" they add "Come and join us to enjoy the music and show everyone that love conquers all..."
Northern Carnival Against the Nazis: 40th Anniversary project launch
Saturday 14th July noon-5pm
Manchester Central Library
The event is free but attendees need to register in advance as there is limited capacity – click here for details
For further details also see the Facebook event page – click here
Love Manchester Music Hate Racism
Saturday 14th July from 6pm
105-107 Princess Street, Manchester M1 6DD
Tickets £5 – to book click here
The line-up includes: Who:Maddy Storm; The Naughtys; Kieran Dobson; Josh Goddard; Golty Farabeau; Patrick T Davies and Young Identity Poets.
For further detail see the Facebook event page – click here