The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Sunday, June 21

Q&A with filmmaker and subjects!

In the 1960s, change was coming to America, ready or not. A new revolutionary culture was emerging, and those seeking to drastically transform the system believed radical change was not only feasible, but imminent. For a short time, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense put itself at the vanguard of that change. Whether they were right or wrong, good or bad, the group and its leadership remain powerful and enduring figures in our popular imagination nearly 50 years after the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, California. THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is a feature documentary that includes eyewitness accounts from the first members who joined the organization, rank-and-file members in cities like Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles, and New York, as well as the voices of lawyers, journalists, scholars, police officers, and former FBI agents.

Concerns over race and policing that THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION raises are still very much alive in the United States, as witnessed with widespread public protests over police mistreatment of African Americans, triggered by recent police killings of unarmed black men. Human Rights Watch has long documented racial disparities in the US criminal justice system—from arrest to sentencing—and have actively pressed for reforms, including advocating for regulations and legislation, that aim to collect better data about policing and reduce incidents of profiling by law enforcement. We have also reported on the FBI’s inappropriate targeting of particular ethnic and religious communities for surveillance similar to that depicted in the film, especially when it comes to terrorism investigations. Such practices often foster mistrust of law enforcement in the very communities where law enforcement officials need to build trust.

  • Country USA
  • Running Time 116 minutes
  • Director Stanley Nelson