Timely trailer for Fred Hampton biopic 'Judas and the Black Messiah'

Judas and the Black Messiah examines Black Panther Fred Hampton's betrayal by William O'Neal, Hampton's bodyguard turned FBI informant. Hampton was a rising star in the revolutionary arm of the Civil Rights movement when he was killed in a police raid at age 21. Read the rest

Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Black Panther and the Crew" is a powerfully relevant superhero story about Black lives, police brutality, and US history

I have been frequently awed by Ta-Nehisi Coates's thoughtful observations on politics and race in America. But I'll be honest: I was somewhat disappointed by his first run of Black Panther comics. It felt, to me, more like a Coates essay accompanied by some action sequences. The ideas were there, and the art by Brian Stelfreeze was spectacular, but it just didn't grip me as a dramatic narrative. (His Captain America, illustrated by Leinil Francis Yu and others, has left me similarly cold.)

Fortunately, Coates is a certified MacArthur genius, and a deft enough writer that he learned on the job with an impressive swiftness. I read the first eighteen issues of Coates and Daniel Acuña's epic Black Panther space opera The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda in just two days, and am eager to devour the rest once it's available (I read most of my comics on Marvel Unlimited).

So to tide myself over, I decided to check out Coates's brief run on Black Panther and the Crew with illustrator Butch Guice. A nod to or revival of Christopher Priest's similarly Panther-inspired 2003 series, The Crew, the comic brings T'Challa to Harlem, in a loose team-up with some other Harlem-affiliated superheroes, including Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Storm from the X-Men. It's an intergenerational story about Black liberation and revolution, that begins with the death of an elderly Black activist in police custody during a series of ongoing protests against racist police brutality. The conspiracy at the heart of the murder mystery organically weaves in gentrification, astroturfed agitators undermining protests, and algorithmic policing that's never as unbiased as it claims. Read the rest

The revolutionary art of Black Panthers graphic designer Emory Douglas, a short documentary

From 1967 through the 1980s, Emory Douglas was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, the revolutionary social justice and political organization founded in Oakland, California. Douglas was the art director, designer, and primary artist for The Black Panther Newsletter and created the iconic Black Panther flyers, handouts, and posters. His work is as relevant, and as necessary, right now as it was 50 years ago.

Art historian, artist, and professor Colette Gaiter referred to Douglas as "the Norman Rockwell of the ghetto, concentrating on the poor and oppressed."

To this day, Douglas creates powerful work that communicates urgent ideas and calls for action.

image: "All power to the people" by Emory Douglas (1970) Read the rest

Fantastic social justice hoodies and t-shirts featuring black activists and leaders

I first learned of Philadelphia Printworks because of a sweatshirt they designed for the Brooklyn Museum's showing of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983, an absolutely essential exhibition of black artists' work at the intersection of activism, empowerment, and cultural pride. (The exhibition is currently on view at San Francisco's de Young Museum.) Philadelphia Printworks describes itself as "a social justice heritage brand and screen printing workshop."

I bought the "Soul of a Nation" crewneck and also the "People's Free Food Program hoodie" celebrating the Black Panthers' influential community program launched in 1969 that fed thousands of children every day.

"Soul of a Nation"

"Octavia Butler" by Nick James

"Freedom Trail/Freedom Summer" Read the rest

Bill Barr's police speech proves the GOP doesn't actually care about "small government."

On Tuesday, December 2, the current Attorney General and former Iran-Contra fixer gave a speech at the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing in which he threatened to take away police protections from communities who refused to bow down and respect worship law enforcement.

American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officer. And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves ― and if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.

There's the obvious problem here, which is that serving and protecting the public should not be contingent upon the public's lavish praise. That's not a service; it's blackmail. If police truly covet public veneration, then they should be selfless enough to serve and protect without the expectation of reward, and simply because it's the right thing to do.

But the other, more ironic issue is about government dependency. Conservatives in the modern GOP love to give lip service to independence — to by-your-bootstraps self-determination. "People need to stop relying on the government, and take care of themselves!" they say. But here's Bill Barr, threatening to take away a government service as if it's a bad thing. We all know what "communities" he's referring to in this speech; they're the same ones that have been historically targeted, bullied, and oppressed by police. That's why these communities don't respect the police. Read the rest

Striking photo essay about Oakland's Black Panther Party (1968)

Fifty years ago, San Francisco's DeYoung Museum exhibited Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones's striking photo essay depicting Oakland's Black Panther Party at the peak of their community activism and political activity. Starting this week, those powerful images will be displayed again as part of the Vanguard Revisited: Poetic Politics & Black Futures exhibition at the San Francisco Art Institute.

The work is still pertinent today and will serve as a platform to discuss issues of documentary photography, social activism, and how the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s in many ways manifests itself in the social context of today...

Black Futures is not delivered with a passive voice, but a voice steeped in deft poetics and sharp politics that continue to accumulate power from its own rich history.

See more of the images at Juxtapoz.

To learn about the Black Panthers's inspiring, polarizing, and ultimately tragic history, I recommend the fantastic documentary "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution."

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Timothy Leary's archivist on Leary's prison escape, Algerian exile, and Swiss prison-time

Lisa Rein writes, "In less than a year, Timothy Leary was imprisoned in three different continents--and it could've been worse. After escaping from a California prison with the help of the Weatherman Underground and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, he and Rosemary fled Algeria from a 'revolutionary bust' by Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, only to be jailed in Switzerland when President Nixon personally demanded his extradition back to the U.S." Read the rest

Trailer for new documentary about The Black Panthers

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is new documentary by Stanley Nelson.

Change was coming to America and the fault lines could no longer be ignored -- cities were burning, Vietnam was exploding, and disputes raged over equality and civil rights. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to drastically transform the system. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense would, for a short time, put itself at the vanguard of that change. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is the first feature length documentary to explore the Black Panther 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. Featuring Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph and many others. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is an essential history and a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America.

Read the rest