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The Black Panthers are Back


The Black Panthers are Back

Reese Erlich

Seeing a documentary on the Black Panthers while sitting next to Bobby Seale is quite an experience. As we watch a press preview of the film in an East Oakland home, the co-founder of the Panthers sometimes calls out the names of old comrades as they appear on screen, or he corrects an occasional error in the film.


They're back? It would seem more accurate to say that the core ideas never left, but were spun into the criminalization marginalization by the "establishment" so that the divisiveness of dominant historical narrative and selective application of the law could continue to be wielded as sledgehammer. Oh and how that sledgehammer methodology has seen the pumping of/by/for constant growth.


Yeah, "back" is an embarrassingly-gross misstatement, considering that the surviving original Panthers, including Seale, say that the "New" Panthers are just self-promoters trying to capitalise on the real Panthers' still-strong cachet.

And Huey Newton wasn't always "a f*cking maniac", especially considering that he earned a PhD after teaching himself to read!


In fairness, some of our best maniacs have PhDs!
Exhibit A--Henry Kissinger
Exhibit B- Paul Wolfowitz
Exhibit C-Samantha Power

I can't judge the Panther personalities, I wasn't there. But I can judge their influence and importance, and they rank high in both.


Fairy Nuff, but they didn't have to teach themselves to read first!


The actual Black Panthers of the 1960s did quite a lot to address (black) poverty, and can still do so today. That said, the great majority of desperately poor/homeless are white, and we could use a White Panthers organization that could take a stand for restoring fundamental human and civil rights to the poor. Such a group would, indeed, sound radical in today's culture of middle class elitism.


"the former Panthers in the documentary who say the party had created a
cult of personality around "a fucking maniac." Newton died in 1989
during a drug deal gone bad."

Sounds like one-sided character assassination of someone not able to defend himself because he was shot to death in Oakland. Maybe some of his words can speak for him against this attack:

"When I look back on my early years, I see how lucky I was. Strong and positive influences in my life helped me escape the hopelessness that afflicts so many of my contemporaries."

"People respect the expression of strength and dignity displayed by men who refuse to bow to the weapons of destruction."

"A few days later, while Bobby and I were rapping, I suggested we use the panther as our symbol and call our political vehicle the Black Panther Party."

"A revolutionary party is under continual stress from both internal and external forces. By its very nature a political organization dedicated to social change invites attack from the established order, constantly trying to destroy it."

"We will touch God's heart; we will touch the people's heart, and together we will move the mountain."
Huey P. Newton, selected quotes from Revolutionary Suicide, 1973
Not, IMHO, a fucking maniac.