Beyond Documentaries: Essential Readings on the Black Panther Party

The Black Panthers Vanguard of the Revolution (2015) – 03b

Stanley Nelson‘s 2015 documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution made its TV debut on PBS Tuesday evening, opening many eyes to a history they had not previously been exposed to in a such a manner.

Through rarely seen archival footage and audio, viewers were inspired by the Black Panther Party’s alliances with Asian, Latino and poor white movements, angered by the depths J. Edgar Hoover‘s FBI would go to dismantle the Party, and grief-stricken by the executions of Little Bobby Sutton and Fred Hampton as if they had just occurred.

However, I wasn’t the only person frustrated by the damning one-dimensional portrayal of Huey P. Newton, the elevation of Eldridge Cleaver, minimization of misogynoir within the Party, exclusion of the Party’s socialist politics, omission of George Jackson, Assata Shakur, John Huggins and more.

With an understanding that the complexities of the Black Panther Party cannot be captured in two hours, it is clear that the learning can only truly be facilitated through the reading and studying of history.

Initiated with the help of history professor Keisha N. Blain, #BlackPantherSyllabus includes books, speeches and other critical literature shared by several gracious contributors. I’ve compiled those suggestions with a few of my own below.

Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton

Power Anywhere Where There’s People, Speech by Fred Hampton, 1969

Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton







Life, Blood, and Oxygen: Women In The Black Panther Party & The American Indian Movement by Shane Morey

American Indian Movement (AIM) Protests Bureau of Indian Affairs (1970)

American Indian Movement (AIM) Protests Bureau of Indian Affairs (1970)


The Black Panther by David Hilliard

Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur