An essential history and a vibrant chronicle of a pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Stanley Nelson, 2015, 75 min) is the first feature documentary to explore the Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it.
While the current Movement for Black Lives may be “new,” activists, organizers, and citizens today are still calling for many of the same changes that young people demanded in the 60s and 70s. In Chicago today, there is national attention to the Federal Department of Justice’s “probe” into the Chicago Police Department, and many Chicagoans, organizers and ordinary citizens alike, are calling for changes in leadership. How do we understand the current demands of young organizing groups such as BYP100 in context of previous work done by groups such as the Black Panthers? Are we actually still fighting for the same things? How has the landscape of black, youth-led movements changed, and how hasn’t it? And how can we model a truly intergenerational struggle in this moment?
“EXCELLENT. What is clear from from this sober yet electrifying film is that the power of the Panthers was rooted in their insistence – radical then, radical still – that black lives matter.” -A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Presented in collaboration with Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), the screening will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Imani Jackson (BYP100), featuring:
Jane Rhodes, Author Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon
Damon Williams, BYP100 Member and #LetUsBreathe Collective Co-Founder
Member of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee/ Black Panther Party Cubs (POCC/BPPC)
This event is part of the Indie Lens Pop-up series, and is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.