It was a time of soul, funk and afros. Black leather jackets, dark shades and the swagger attitude meant that you could join a party of courage but controversy would be the only possible outcome.
With The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Stanley Nelson Jr has directed his documentary with flair. His passion to tell the true story of The Black Panthers educates the viewer with a pivotal moment of 1960’s American history. However, the documentary is practically biased, favouring the Panther movement and making the police the antagonistic force.
Beginning in the group's birthplace of Oakland, California, we're told, thuggish police treated African American’s with racism and hostility. We're introduced to the young Huey P. Newton, who realised that it was legal to carry loaded guns in public and understood that doing so in the surrounding area of police interacting with Oakland's black population would draw more attention to racial justice issues than a million printed fliers. He and Bobby Seale organised the party, which began with a focus on militancy but soon launched major charitable programs, including a famous free-breakfast effort that fed children 20,000 meals a week. It is then implied that when you are right, no one remembers you and when you are wrong, no one forgets you.
Overall, many segments of the Black Panther’s reign is told, from FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover’s dedication to demolish the party from Fred Hampton (a Black Panther who was brutally murdered by so called FBI men), sparked controversy and debate to whether this was a political assassination. You will be interested, you will be intrigued but only on the condition that you are prepared to learn and be treated like you’re in school to mould your mind in a prominent history lesson. Nelson’s archival photographs and footage is now preserved in this documentary to reveal that the Black Panthers were. indeed, the vanguard of a revolution.
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