Film Review: “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”

maxresdefault.jpg
Vanguard of the Revolution

By Tim Hayes

I've actually gotten dozens of requests for my opinion of this film, and I wanted to wait until I got to see the film with an audience and see the whole film at once rather than the many excerpts that I had seen. I want to be fair in what I say, because who knows if anyone will ever have the resources and the good intentions to do this good a job of chronicling such an important part of recent American History again. 

In one of the first scenes in the film, former Black Panther Erica Huggins states that for every surviving member of the Black Panther Party you could get a different version of the Black Panther Party. In my Black Panther Party we held literacy classes for a lot of the sisters and brothers who walked in off the street to join. The reason for this is that we asked most of them to do a LOT of reading. Franz Fanon, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Carlos Marighella, Nietzsche, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkruma. . . and much more. I came to the BPP as a Morehouse College student and had turned down at that time a scholarship to both Yale and Harvard. I dropped out of school because I was asked. The party needed people to not only help get some of this stuff across to the "brothers and sisters off the black" as we called them, but to make sure that as many chapters as possible were getting this work done. That Black Panther Party was not in the film. The Black Panther Party in the film only showed a Panther holding a book once.

 

I have to give the film credit, though, for telling the true story that the majority of Black Panther Party members were women. . . and that photographers LOVED the Black Panthers, which is why there are so many images that survive of swaggering young black men in black leather jackets. We spent a hell of a lot more time working than swaggering. . . and women not only did most of that work but controlled it. So the film got that part right.

In my Black Panther Party, some of us traveled to North Korea, Viet Nam, Lebanon , Israel, China, Cuba, Sweden, Angola, and more, both spreading a message and absorbing information and values of revolutionary movements around the world. That Black Panther Party was NOT in the film.

In my Black Panther Party, Huey Newton was one of the most articulate, intelligent , well-read human beings I ever met, even up until this day. The film spent much of the last one third of the film on the "post-Panther" Huey, ravaged by demons and suffering from a type of PTSD from his horrible treatment in prisons and that drug-crazy period almost 10 years after the demise of the BPP that ended in his death -- and almost no time on the brilliant young man who formed this organization from nothing and scared the forces that be to death. Or the Huey P. Newton who on charisma and guts alone could inspire the loyalty of such a diverse group of black people and get us to literally put our lives on the line everyday.

 My comrade Elaine Brown covers these points very eloquently in her own review of the film. You can read that here. 

I agree for the most part with what Ms. Brown writes. But I have to say, for a lot of people up until now the only film of the Panthers they had ever seen was the ghastly bullshit film "Panther" by Mario Van Peebles, which showed a cartoonish, simple-minded version of the party and actually tried to connect us to some conspiracy theory nonsense. As an improvement over that, this could be called an acceptable film -- but far from definitive.

Tim_Hayes.PNG

Tim Hayes is a veteran of SCLC and SNCC, a former organizer for the Black Panther Party, and a musician in the band “Philly Gumbo.” He lives in Philadelphia. 

This post was originally published on the blog “Tim Hayes’ Tales of Post-Racial America”: timothyhayes.net. 

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 66 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 81 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017
· 7 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 27 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 16 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 10 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.