by Paradise Free Jah Love Supreme
I watched two Black Panther movies today: “Panther,” the one put out by Mario and Melvin Van Peebles in 1995 and, in my opinion, prematurely discarded from theaters, and the new one by Marvel, “Black Panther.” Angela Bassett stars in both films and the span of 23 years has not cracked her beautiful Black!
In the first Panther movie she plays Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, making her first public appearance since her husband’s death, in San Francisco, where she is escorted by the Black Panthers as security. Three years before that she starred in “X,” by Spike Lee, also playing the role of Betty Shabazz, brilliantly!
The Panther movie set in Oakland is very violent, but no more so than the new Panther movie. So if you liked “Black Panther,” I encourage you to revisit “Panther,” which has a lot of strong on-point performances from Marcus Chong as Huey P. Newton and Courtney B. Vance as Bobbie Seale.
The Black star-studded cast also includes the late great Dick Gregory, Kadeem Hardison, Bobbie Brown, Kool Moe Dee, Chris Rock and Oakland’s own Marc Curry, Toni Tony Tone and the First Lady of the Panthers, Tarika Lewis! Legendary rapper Biggie Smalls has a bit part and practically every female rapper on the planet sings and performs on the closing “Freedom” song video!
Check it out! And let’s keep this Panther thang going while it’s hot! And ya don’t stop!
But the main reason I’m droppin’ this article is to share a poem I wrote after seeing the first Panther movie. It seems to be still pertinent:
Return of the Black Panther
I was the former enslaved African
Who ventured from the Motherland
As far as I could get
From the Southern plantation man!
Until I ran out of places and spaces to run
So like a coal Black Cat
Backed up against the ocean
I sprang up from my hands and knees
And exchanged my chains and shackles
For guns and rifles!
And I delivered food to the hungry
Fed my community
While seeking peace and prosperity
In my neighborhoods!
So I policed the police
Until they changed the rules
And made me illegal
Made it illegal to care
And care for your people
Our people, Black people!
Then they flooded our communities with drugs
And medicated us, like we had Drapetomania
Back in the day they called it an insane desire to be free
Cuz we waz sick and tired of being sick and tired
And used and abused!
And when we continued to refuse their medication
They spied on us! Lied on us! Fired on us!
And slithered some Uncle Toms in on us
Who replaced them
Until the blood from the crips
Of Panthers and SNCC
Colored red the sneakers
Of the living dead gangs of Bloods and Crips
In urban graves cross country
And today we cry G-E-R-O-N-I-M-O-O-O!
And if you kill Mumia, you kill me
And these Black Cats don’t play that!
A Panther won’t strike until attacked
But don’t pat me on the head
And expect to get your hand back!
Because these cats have nine lives
And a new generation of Panther litter
Is coming up, ultra mean and clean
And even though you banned our Panthology –
Our movie from the screen
The Panther is back!
Paradise is president of the International Black Writers & Artists Local 5 in Oakland and was honored by the City of Oakland with “Paradise Day,” on Oct. 6, 2007. Find him on Facebook at Paradise Freejah Lovesupreme.