Beyond Documentaries: Essential Readings on the Black Panther Party
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
Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson by George Jackson
Black Women’s Manifesto; Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female [PDF] by Frances M. Beal
A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story by Elaine Brown
Negroes with Guns by Robert F. Williams
Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power by Timothy B. Tyson
On the Ground: The Black Panther Party in Communities Across America by Judson L. Jeffries
This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible by Charles E. Cobb Jr.
The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements, Speech by Huey P. Newton, 1970
Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination by Robin D.G. Kelley
The Feminist Leadership of Ericka Huggins and the Black Panther Party [PDF] by Mary Phillips
The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] by Charles E. Jones
In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement by Jama Lazerow and Yohuru Williams
Sisters in the Struggle: African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement by Bettye Collier-Thomas and V.P. Franklin
Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas by Emory Douglas
Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party & AIM by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall
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