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Former Party Chairwoman Elaine Brown Was Not Pleased with the Black Panthers Documentary


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. We've already seen a spectacular tribute from a superstar. And last night Stanley Nelson's 2015 documentary 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' premiered on PBS.

The documentary follows the rise and dismantling of the revolutionary organization with file photos and video footage and interviews with historians and former Black Panthers.

One of the party's most prominent members, Elaine Brown, excoriated the documentary and its director last year before the film premiered.
For The Daily Beast she wrote, "In his film The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, black documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson slices and dices the history of the Black Panther Party into a two-dimensional palliative for white people and Negroes who are comfortable in America’s oppressive status quo. "

She continues:
That said, as a former leader of the Party, I assert authority to state that Stanley Nelson ultimately debases the Party, which history will substantiate was, to this very day, the greatest effort for freedom ever made by Africans lost in America. Nelson does this by excising from his film the Party’s ideological foundation and political strategies, despite the wealth of published materials articulating the Party’s goals and ideals, reducing our activities to sensationalist engagements, as snatched from establishment media headlines.

Brown took issue with the lengthy portion of the film dedicated to Eldridge Cleaver who she says "individually did more to try to destroy the Party than the U.S. government."

Brown ended her rebuke of the film with some stern words about the film's creator. "My consolation lies in knowing that this film will not be relevant in the history of the Black Panther Party, which, fixed in the history of the United States, will be studied for generation upon generation to come, and in knowing that history will not remember Stanley Nelson at all."
Brown published her autobiography, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story, which details her experiences in the party in 1993.

The full film is now available to watch on the PBS website.

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