The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution
Imagine the progress we would have made in race relations in the United States if the FBI had not waged war on black people and specifically the Black Panthers? The Panthers were revolutionary in creating coalitions within the community regardless of race, creed, or cultural bias. They gave out groceries, developed ambulance services for the under-served, ran schools, and fed breakfast to hungry children, but they also armed themselves and witnessed police actions in cities across the country. They were targeted by J. Edgar Hoover, who apparently did not understand democracy in action. He considered them a threat, possibly because of their support for revolutions around the globe.
This book is so interesting. Rather than focusing on key leaders such as Huey Newton, Bobby Seales, and the martyred Fred Hampton, the authors have interviewed those who functioned at the grassroots level of the party throughout the country. Those interviewees discuss their recruitment or enlistment into the party, the type of work they performed and — in many cases — what caused them to leave the party.
The back of the book features a good index and archive documenting the party’s persecution. This is a wonderful book and helpful in understanding how a grassroots movement can perform miracles and how tragically it can end.
Bryan Shih • Yohuru Williams • Peniel E. Joseph, Introduction