If you didn’t know, John Edgar Hoover was a raging asshole.
I did know, but the notion still stood out Wednesday evening as I watched The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, an excellent documentary about an important cultural movement for equality and justice that was nefariously undermined by Hoover, the head of the FBI.
NonDoc contributors know that I’m not big on publishing film or play reviews, but I write this piece to opine on an observation that hovered conspicuously in the AMC Crossroads theater like a smoke signal until an older gentleman with a fierce afro-mullet vocalized it during a Q&A session after the screening.
“The film fits today,” he said.
Kathleen Mosley, an original Panther Party member and one of four panelists who answered questions from the audience, replied: “And the 10-point program still fits today.”
While I wish I had the time to break down the entire film, the Black Panthers Party and their 10-point plan, anyone with a brain and an inkling of awareness about what’s been going on in America should be able to see the modern connection.
The 10-point program created by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale — and eventually co-opted by Eldridge Cleaver and Fred Hampton — expanded upon these desires of young black men and women in the 1960s:
- WE WANT freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
- WE WANT full employment for our people.
- WE WANT an end to the robbery by the CAPITALIST of our Black Community
- WE WANT decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings.
- WE WANT education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.
- WE WANT all black men to be exempt from military service.
- WE WANT an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of black people.
- WE WANT freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
- WE WANT all black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their black communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
- WE WANT land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. And as our major political objective, a United Nations supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the black colony in which only black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate, for the purpose of determining the will of black people as to their national destiny.
In the list above, I could have linked to numerous ongoing struggles that highlight how these issues remain relevant today, but I didn’t want to distract from the power of those words.
And, make no mistake, there are powerful words and powerful stories in The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. It’s worth your time to watch, and it’s available for free on PBS.org until March 18.
Don’t stick your head in the sand and pretend this doesn’t matter.