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Original run: 15 Mar 2015 – …
Country of origin: UK
Network: Channel 4 UK
Watched by: 2 of 617 049 0%
Total running time: 1 hour
Episode duration: 60 minutes
Immigration Street 1964
When a maverick Conservative won the West Midlands seat of Smethwick in the 1964 General Election following an anti-immigration campaign, it triggered one of the worst chapters in the history of British race relations. Violence, assassination attempts, and even the creation of a British Klu Klux took a small corner of England to the brink of official racial segregation.
Immigration Street 1964 reveals what happened when a small British town gained national and international notoriety following the unprecedented culture collision between immigrants and the white community at the start of the era of mass immigration. It recounts events following the council sanctioned plan to let homes on one street - Marshall Street – to white families only and how US activist Malcolm X turned up in the town to condemn policies he compared to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews; and interviews locals who were appalled at what had happened and campaigned to reverse the victory at the next election and return Smethwick to a more peaceful existence.
This in-depth history film combines first-hand accounts from residents with rare archive footage and new revelations about the creation of the most infamous campaign slogan in British history, to paint a shocking picture of a bigoted Britain; and it offers a timely warning of how fears about the effects of immigration together with an election campaign can quickly and violently spin out of control.
Executive Producer Malcolm Brinkworth says: “Fifty years on from the events in Smethwick, immigration still dominates the news and political debate. Hearing the testimony from those who experienced events first hand, Immigration Street 1964 allows those who lived through the shocking events to tell their story. Mixed with voices from the archive, their experiences reveal the ugly truth of how immigrants were treated. Colour bars, abuse, violence and council backed overt discrimination were commonplace. As we head into another general election with immigration a big issue, it's a history we need to remember.”