In words and photographs, Power to the People is the story of the controversial Black Panther Party, founded 50 years ago in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton.
The words are Seale’s, with contributions by other former party members; the photographs, including many icons of the 1960s, are by Stephen Shames, who also interviewed many other members of the party – including Kathleen Cleaver, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, Ericka Huggins, Emory Douglas, and William “Billy X” Jennings – and supplements his own photography with Panther ephemera and graphic art.
Shames, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, first encountered and photographed Seale in April 1967 at an anti-Vietnam War rally. Seale became a mentor to Shames, and Shames, in turn, the most trusted photographer to the party, remained by Seale’s side through his campaign for mayor of Oakland in 1973. Power to the People is a testament to their warm association: At its heart are Shames’s memorable images, accompanied by Seale’s colorful in-depth commentary culled from many hours of conversation.
Admired, reviled, emulated, misunderstood, the Black Panther Party was one of the most creative and influential responses to racism and inequality in American history. They advocated armed self-defense to counter police brutality, and initiated a program of patrolling the police with shotguns – and law books.
Published on the 50th anniversary of the party’s founding, Power to the People is the in-depth chronicle of the only radical political party in America to make a difference in the struggle for civil rights – the Black Panther Party.