Mario Van Peebles directed and produced this adaption of Melvin Van Peebles’s novel Panther and had his dad write the screenplay, too.
Kadeem Hardison plays Judge, a man who has returned home from Vietnam to find that Oakland is torn apart between crime and police discrimination against African-Americans. he soon learns about the Black Panthers and their leaders Bobby Seale (Courtney B. Vance) — who said that this movie is “80 percent to 90 percent” untrue — and Huey P. Newton (Marcus Chong).
This movie has a great cast, including Tyrin Turner, Joe Don Baker, M. Emmet Walsh, Chris Rock, Chris Tucker, Bobby Brown, Angela Bassett (who played Beverly Shabazz in both this movie and Malcolm X), Dick Gregory, Kool Moe Dee, Richard Dysart (who also played J. Edgar Hoover in Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair), Michael Wincott, James Russo and both Marlon and Melvin Van Peebles.
Even if the movie is fictionalized, it should get you to read about the Black Panther Party and how they used copwatching to police the very cops who had pledged to protect their neighborhoods. In addition, the party created the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, education programs, and community health clinics. Hoover believed that they were “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and part of a Communist plot.
The film never gets into the two different ways America still sees the Black Panthers, whether as a vital organization in the struggle of African-Americans or a criminal organization. Perhaps most dangerous to the status quo was that Huey Newton expressed his support for the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Gay Liberation Movement, urging his followers to “unite with them in a revolutionary fashion.”
If you get anything out of this, learn more about them and how people are still fighting for equality.
You can get Panther from MVD.