After the U.S. civil rights movement, change and a revolutionary counter culture emerged in the late 1960’s.A historical documentary traces the disputes that raged over racial inequality and civil rights and the new political party that emerged.VOA’s Carolyn Turner, reports on““The Black Panthers, Vanguards of the Revolution.”
The film explores the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, one of the 20th century’s most controversial organizations.
SOT: Kathleen Cleaver, Black Panther Party
“This brother here, myself, all of us, were born with our hair like this and we wear it like this.The reason for it you might say is that the new awareness among black people that they are beautiful.They are aware.They are proud of it. Isn’t it beautiful?Allright!
FILMSOT: Your’re talking about people who are teenagers, 17, 18, 20.That’s the of the Panthers.The fact that we were so young the fact that we never recognized how startling we were to people.”
Filmmaker Stanley Nelson says the Black Panthers caught everyone’s attention.
SOT:Stanley Nelson, Director & Producer
[@1:00 “ So police brutality, unemployment, bad schools-- all those things they were talking about , -- but they look so cool with a black leather jacket to liberated hat cocked to the side sunglasses and a big Afro.Asa 15-year-old teenager I was like wow!Who are these guys?”
The Black Panthers captured the political imagination of young blacks.
FILM SOT: Dear Mr. Newton, I’m a 13 year old student and I want to be a Black Panther.Does it matter what your religition Is?What are some qualifircations to be a black Panther?P.S. write me back personally.
SOT:Rita Williams Garcia, Writer
“I was taught to be proper.Behave yourself.You’re going out in public to always know that the white man was listening.With the Black Panthers coming to the scene, it was just a completely different message.As a 12 year old, youknow what?You had this whole other portrayal of self and just really digging it!”
The Black Panthers knew how to exploit the media.
FILMSOT: Photographerstook our pictures, they took advantage they put them in newspapers they put them on magazines, and that look that we projected, the leather jackets the big AFRO the shades, that became a hit !Obviously photographers were drawn to it.
We hear a great deal about the Black Panthers
SOT: Jim Dunbar, Journalist
“The Black Panthers were absolutely unique.”
The Black Panthers.
The Black Panthers Party….
The Black Panthers movement.
SOT: Jim Dunbar, Journalist
“I think the Black Panthers really understood the media.They knew what we were after, they knew what we were focusing on. Many people know that we exploited the Black Panthers but I think there is a lot of evidence that they used us to their advantage.They were able to establish their legitimacy as a voice of protest.
SOT: John Lennon
“Chairman of the Black Panther Party and here he is.Applause.
Filmmaker Stanley Nelson says it was a revolutionary time.
SOT: Stanley Nelson, Director & Producer
[@8:00 to understand the Panthers at all you have to understand what was going on in this period that we cover on the film 1966 to73.You know when there were all these movementschurningin America at the time.There was the traditional civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the student movement the women's liberation movement there were all these things about what happened and they were all part of you know what was going on in the states.
By 1968 Bobby Hutton was the first Black Panther to die at the hands of the police.It was viewed as Police Brutality by Panther sympathizers.
[BP Bobby Hutton TRT 1:04]
:03 SOT:Kathleen Cleaver
“Shot down like a common animal, he died a warrior for Black Liberation.”
SOT: Marlon Brando
That could have been my son lying there. And I’m going to do as much as I can, I’m going to start right now. To inform white people of what they don’t know.”
SOT: Kathleen Cleaver
“To the Black Panther Party this was crisis and chaos.Because this was the first time this had ever happened.There had been no Panther murdered by police.”
We want nonviolence just like Martin Luther King.Nonviolence on the part of who?To sit and watch ourselves be slaughtered like our brother?We must defend ourselves.By any means necessary.”
Bobby Huttonbecame a martyr for the Black Power cause, which fueled other sympathetic causes across the country to support them in solidarity. Carolyn Turner, VOA NEWS, Washington.
Check back tomorrow for Part Two of the Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution.