1. The Women Of The Black Panther Party
While the image of the Black Panther Party often conjures one of a man in the signature beret carrying a gun, women were right there alongside the men of the party, making up an estimated 50 percent of membership. Women played roles at every level of the party, from press secretaries, editors to chairwomen. Check out some of the Party’s most notable female members.
2. Kathleen Cleaver
Highly educated and well-traveled, Cleaver was the first woman in a major position of power in the BPP. Their National Communications Secretary, she is famous for articulating the Party’s message nationwide. She was married to Eldridge Cleaver, with whom she lived in exile for years after confrontations with police. Upon return, she got her law degree from Yale and became a lawyer, scholar and activist.
3. Afeni Shakur
Shakur is best known for her son, Tupac Shakur’s, fame, but she herself is an incredible artist, poet, actress and activist. At 19, she met Malcolm X, who inspired her life of activism. She joined the BPP in ’64 and was an active member, writing articles for the party newsletter. She was later accused of taking part in several bombings plots in NYC. Her case went to trial in ’71, where she famously defended herself.
4. Angela Davis
An activist and artist Davis was an active member of the Communist Party and worked closely with the BPP in the 60s-70s, although never an official member. Accused of several crimes in a courtroom standoff that left four dead, she spent time in jail, but was later acquitted of all charges. She maintains her innocence and has been an outspoken advocate for prisoners, as well as an author and scholar, ever since.
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