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The Grandassa Models were the foot soldiers and ambassadors for the Black Is Beautiful Movement. Initially, they were a group of eight Black women of who wore their hair in its natural state and modeled fashion for the world to see “Black Is Beautiful” in a new way. Eldridge Cleaver wrote from San Quentin adulating Black women with natural hair.
I have always said that if you want to understand the nature of a thing, you must research its origin. I would venture to say that the iconic freedom fighter and servant of the people Malcolm X was the first “Prison Panther,” although he was not known officially as such. However, when Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 at Merritt College in Oakland, California, the legacy of their hero, OUR HERO, Malcolm X was on their mind.
The 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party Conference, Oct. 20-23, held at the Oakland Museum of California and in Bobby Hutton Grove at deFremery Park, was a huge success. To see the Vanguards of the Revolution saluted in such elegant surroundings at the banquet Saturday evening was certainly a fitting tribute to the legacy their lives concretely represent. Hats off to the committee that organized the conference.
Back in the ‘60s, the founders of the Black nationalist Black Panther Party told white radicals asking to join the BPP to go found their own party. Thus, the White Panther Party was born. The WPP was generally viewed as a far lesser threat than the BPP to national security by various national and local police organizations in the United States. However, actions taken by members of the WPP, whether alleged or actual, did serve to expose the FBI’s widespread illegal wiretapping of the BPP’s phones.
Elaine Brown’s “A Taste of Power,” a memoir which chronicles her leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense when co-founder Huey P. Newton is imprisoned, still resonates with me. The idea that a Black woman is nominated to the leadership position of the most powerful civic organization in the country at that time is still remarkable and speaks to what Kathleen Cleaver calls revolutionary imagination.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s eighth book written from prison cells in the state of Pennsylvania, USA, is a selection of 107 essays that date from January 1982 to October 2014. They cover practically the entire period of his incarceration as an internationally recognized political prisoner. Most of the pieces were written while he was on death row after being framed for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981, in the city of Philadelphia.
“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” by Stanley Nelson is a documentary about a Black revolutionary organization in a revolutionary time. It is one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen that intends to tell the history of an organization that shook the world and fundamentally changed the way that Black people in the United States have looked at themselves for nearly half a century. It’s screening in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Rafael on Oct. 2. The Oakland screening is Saturday, Oct. 3, 1 p.m., Piedmont Theater, 4186 Piedmont Ave., followed by Q&A with Stanley Nelson and former Oakland Panther Steve McCutchen.
In a time when true friendship is a lost art, I can truly say that Dedon Kamathi was my friend. How difficult it is for me to use the past tense. Dedon would say that he was my most loyal follower. But the truth of it was that he was my leader. His favorite saying was “Ready for the Revolution.” Dedon was ready for the revolution, but the community that he gave so much to continues in its state of unreadiness.
Lifelong freedom fighter and field secretary and founding member of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party Ronald Elder Freeman made his transition on Oct. 8, 2014, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. Ironically, Elder Freeman’s brother, Roland Freeman – the two were born only a year apart and were, they say, as close as twins – died exactly a week after Elder as he was preparing to bring Elder’s ashes back to California.
“The Black Arts Movement and Its Influences” conference will be going down with a host of legendary Black artists who have contributed to the liberation of our minds over the last 50 years. People like Askia Toure, Umar Bin Hasan of the Last Poets, Emory Douglas, the Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, Avotcja, Ayodele Nzinga, Ras Baraka and Ishmael Reed, to name a few, will be participating.
The inclusion of Assata Shakur on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Terrorists list last month – marking 29 years since her liberation from a New Jersey maximum security prison in 1979 by members of the Black Liberation Army – while aimed at Cuba’s leadership should also be interpreted as a shot across the bow of any internal revolutionary movement or revolutionary activists in the United States.
Cynthia McKinney’s fundraiser tour for the SF Bay View was a huge success up and down California, hitting San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland and Santa Rosa. The tour, which was titled “Latin America, Africa, and Obama,” coincided with the release of McKinney’s second book, “Ain’t Nothing Like Freedom,” an autobiography about her years as a six-term Congress member from Georgia.
The award winning play, “The Mountaintop,” looks at the everyday divinity of ordinary folks and places Martin King right there with them. His greatness is not a greatness which is inaccessible or isolated. In the Lorraine Motel that night, King listens and even agrees at some point with the young maid, Camae, a Malcolm X radical in an apron.
Far from bringing “discredit to the Panthers,” as Rosenfeld contends, the Black Panthers’ armed street patrols dramatically reduced the level of violence visited by Oakland’s white cops upon the city’s Black residents, earning the admiration of 62 percent of inner city Blacks, according to a 1969 Wall Street Journal poll. Rosenfeld’s portrayal of the Panthers, including Richard Aoki’s role in the organization, is grossly inaccurate. His analysis of the violence surrounding the party’s challenge to racial inequality and injustice is simplistic and racist.
It is essential that we lay down the life of crime and turn our focus to our careers as mothers, wives, sisters and comrades. Once we get our priorities in order, we will be able to take our rightful positions in the world and become the leaders we are meant to be!
“COINTELPRO 101” is a recently released documentary that takes a long hard look at the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program to crush resistance that led to the deportation of Marcus Garvey, the assassinations of Malcolm X, George Jackson, Fred Hampton, Martin Luther King Jr. and more.
It was as it should be / Young Black Panthers / Were killed for trying / To protect the cubs / For educating the cubs / For feeding the cubs / This was never the American dream / But we have lived a nightmare for days / In efforts to make our dreams / Come to life take flight / We still have to fight / It was as it should be / Giving honor to Chairman Fred / And Defense Captain Mark Clark
December 4th, International Revolutionary Day, was a historic day, not just because it was the 40th commemoration of the assassination of Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark of the Black Panther Party, but because of the way the people responded to remember these freedom fighters after such time.
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