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The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered]

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Oakland, California, 1966-one of the nation's most controversial political organizations, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense is founded. During its meteoric rise, and almost as rapid decline, the Black Panther Party became the subject of countless news articles, books, commentaries, and several motion pictures. This often misunderstood notoriety has made the Panthers America's most well-known Black revolutionaries. But few who have examined the role of the Panthers have done so with the depth and skill of Dr. Charles E. Jones and the other contributers to this provocative collection of essays. Here is a volume that provides the extensive analysis that will lead to a more complete understanding of the dynamics surrounding the Black Panther Party. Now available for the first time in paperback.

519 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1998

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Christian.
95 reviews17 followers
March 11, 2009
If it hasn’t been stolen from your local library yet, check out this book edited by Professor Charles E. Jones. Published in 1998, it’s still one of the best collections of academic essays on the subject of the Black Panther Party (BPP), in my opinion.

Jones sifted through much of the collected Black Panther Party writing, and found it wanting. “The literature on the Panthers is beset with deficiencies… and often riddled with inaccuracies” he complained, noting that the BPP is characterized as a “criminal gang” too often, and “these negative assessments of the Panthers vastly undermine the historical significance of the BPP.” Though Jones feels these accounts, by David Horowitz and others, are part of an campaign of anti-leftist revisionism, he still takes care to criticize overzealous works like the late 1990s film Panther , which strip the panthers of their politics and flaws alike, and look through too narrow a lens.

Omissions are even more upsetting, to both Jones and myself. In spite of the BPP’s influence as “the most influential revolutionary nationalist group in the U.S.” in the late 1960s (according to Manning Marable – channeling G-man Hoover’s description of the Panthers as public enemy #1) the encyclopedia of the American Left had only one entry for the Panthers. There really didn’t seem to be much decent academic writing on the subject. Many studies only follow the BPP until 1971, “a limited time frame,” says Jones, well short of the official demise in 1982.

The book opens with an Jones essay that aims to debunk various myths about the Panthers, and it is a welcome start. For me, particular treats within the volume are Chris Booker’s a critique of the Panther’s lumpen strategy in “Lumpenization”, Kathleen Neal Cleaver’s memories of the International Section in “Back to Africa”, and Akinyele Umoja’s rumination on New Afrikan prisoners in “Set Our Warriors Free”.

This far into the 21st century, most anti-Panther writers seem to have abandoned the subject, and it is being kept in print by its allies. I don’t mind that most modern writers on the subject appear to to be pro-Panther. Although replacing the government’s bias with another slant doesn’t do the movement full justice, the wounds from the party’s collapse are still too fresh for complete objectivity. Most importantly, however, not enough has been written. The semi-sequel to this volume is Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party A New Look at the Panthers and Their Legacy.

[Documentation on the Black Liberation Army, my primary subject of interest as of late, is even scanter, so I’ve been going over various Black Panther histories with an eye to extracting any mention of the BLA and its activities.:]
Profile Image for Martha.
417 reviews12 followers
May 24, 2015
A collection of pieces that run the gamut from intensely academic to purely personal and poetic. Sometimes almost overwhelmingly dense, but absolutely worth a working through -- it explores the Panthers from a variety of angles (including a good chapter on gender roles) and is incredibly informative. Plus, there are zillions of footnotes, so I now have 304995 other things to read.
Profile Image for Dominic Lenzo.
42 reviews
June 22, 2021
Painfully anti-Huey. He’s rarely mentioned outside of one essay titled his beliefs. Most of the essays focus too much on Eldridge, the rat. Steve McCutchens’ journal entries are intriguing. Overall mostly a propaganda collection trying to re-shape the legacy of the BPP.
32 reviews
December 11, 2020
Delvis mycket bra. Men blir rätt upprepande eftersom alla kapitel skrivs av olika personer. Dock är kapitlen om partiets interna strukturer, organisationen och statens repression väldigt bra. Beskriver medlemmarnas vardag bra, solid feministisk analys av partiet. Rekommenderas till den som vill fördjupa sin kunskap om BPP, men inte som första bok.
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