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

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson by George Jackson

Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party by Curtis J. Austin

This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party by David Hilliard

Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom

Liberalism, Black Power, and the Making of American Politics, 1965-1980 by Devin Fergus

Black Women’s Manifesto; Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female [PDF] by Frances M. Beal

Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination by Alondra Nelson

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

Engendering the Black Freedom Struggle: Revolutionary Black Womanhood and the Black Panther Party in the Bay Area, California by Robyn Ceanne Spencer

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

Huey P. Newton

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

Ericka Huggins

Ericka Huggins

The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] by Charles E. Jones

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)

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