If you watched Beyonce’s half-time show at the Super Bowl, you might have detected the fashion influence of the Black Panthers. Or, you might just have thought that the dancers looked good.
Black clothes, leather and berets were part of a look that was distinctive and that could be seen as threatening. Initially all male and about standing up to police violence, the group evolved into an international and alternative movement.
For a brief time in the 1960s, the Black Panthers had practical alternatives to capitalism. They ran education and free breakfast schemes for kids. Initially active in California, the group spread across America.
Controversy and allegations overshadowed their real achievements. Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver were the leaders and all were dogged by FBI interest and informants.
It’s impossible to ignore the many accusations of violence against the Panthers and by individual members. This documentary does not airbrush the problematic history, but it does present a positive case for the good done by the group.
My attention didn’t wander. My friend and I stayed involved and attentive.
Whether you know a lot about the group or very little, this film provides a lot of food for thought. It should have been nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary.
It offers a very comprehensive look at the rise and fall of the group.
Women played a key role in the Panthers and this is the first film I’ve seen that acknowledges this.
I saw it at the ICA in London. It’s a super place to see a movie and the audience for this was respectful and quiet.
Do see it.