After The Black Panther Party reunion in Seattle this past summer, people were excited and inspired to carry on the legacy of Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Kwame Ture, Elaine Brown, Assata and Fred Hampton. Brother Emery Douglass, minister of culture, gave us an idea of how we could capture the imagination of the people using revolutionary images and sounds together in film
People all over the world had been fed volumes and volumes of misinformation about the Black Panther Party (BPP). This misinformation campaign was carried out by way of newspaper, radio, magazines and television. So if media was the poison then, the immunization against it (according to dialectical materialism) would have to come out of media, right?
We all know the age-old sayings "TV is junk food for the brain", "Movies are too violent!" Well not all TV and cinema falls into these classifications, there are exceptions.
Television, cinema, radio and paper media are like water: they take on the shape of their container. In this case, their containers happen to be agents of misinformation and propaganda.
One principle of the BPP was to speak directly to the people in the people's language. So, when the BPP film series began it was decided that a community discussion and forum should follow.
The first film showcased was Comrade Sister: Women of the Black Panther Party Speak Out by Phyllis J. Jackson. It demonstrates the crucial role of women in the BPP. Traditionally the mainstream media had presented the BPP as a male-dominated gang of gun crazy, dope smoking, patriarchal, chauvinist cowboys spouting Marxist dogma.
Jackson, who now teaches at a Pomona College outside of Los Angeles, accompanied her film on the trip to Seattle and facilitated the discussion that followed. A woman who claimed men in the BPP had raped many women in the party made one of the first comments.
"That sounds a little far fetched, for the fact that ALL the party members were required to go through weapons training and self defense classes," longtime Seattle BPP Chapter member Ron Johnson answered. "So I don't know about anyone else, but imagine trying to rape a women that knows kung fu and carries a loaded 9-millimeter and knows how to use it. That's a high price to pay for a little @#$%."
It's amazing how a little light can dispel a whole room of darkness in the twinkling of an eye! The crowd laughed, and at that point the audience of mostly women was forced to add this very down to earth, common sense comment to their mental Rolodex of Panther images, ideas and concepts.
As a result of the success of the screening of Comrade Sister, it was decided by the BPP reunion committee that the film series should be a regular monthly event held at Central Cinema, which is located in the home of the hustla's on East Union.
The next film will take audiences to Chicago, Ill., to tell the tale of one of the youngest BPP leaders, Chairman Fred Hampton. At 20 years old Fred Hampton was the chair of The Illinois Chapter of the BPP.
He organized free clinics, feeding programs and political education programs. Hampton also organized the Rainbow Coalition, a group made up of young blacks and Latinos who shaped the political climate of Chicago's inner city.
The film does not concentrate on his death, and neither do we. Instead, like the film, we celebrate his life and his legacy through observation and participation. Please join us in celebrating this spirit of resistance, which was, and is, Fred Hampton.
The Murder of Fred Hampton Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m. Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave. E. For more information, call 600-1307.
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