Book Excerpt – Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
by Kekla Magoon
Publication Date: Nov 23, 2021
List Price: $24.99
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Imprint: Candlewick Press
Publisher: Walker Books
Parent Company: Walker Books
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Copyright © 2021 Walker Books/Kekla Magoon No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.
When people talk about the Black Panthers, sometimes they speak in hushed tones, as if history itself could overhear. As if the Panthers are a secret no one should talk about. For many years, Americans have looked away from the Black Panthers’ legacy, and because people have looked away, many have forgotten who and what the Panthers really were.
The Black Panther Party was a nationwide organization that existed in Black communities in the United States from 1966 until 1982. The Panthers played several roles: they were civil rights and human rights activists, militant revolutionaries, and community organizers, and they were also a political party. They taught Black Americans how to fend for themselves in a country that treated them like second-class citizens, where police officers and politicians often failed to protect people but abused their power instead. The Panthers committed to defending Black people— with weapons, but also with education and with services designed to raise families out of abject poverty. They were one manifestation of a widespread belief that the passive resistance tactics of the civil rights movement were no longer effective.
The Panthers’ decision to advocate self-defense was controversial at the time, and it remains controversial. But one thing cannot be denied: in the midst of one of the most turbulent times their country had ever faced, the Panthers took a stand. Their actions drew thousands of followers and brought the attention of the entire nation to their movement, making them the target of one of the most sustained and organized repression efforts ever made by the U.S. government against its own citizens. The Panthers fought a revolution in their time, just as we are fighting one in ours.
They were called troublemakers, terrorists, and branded as anti-American, but the truth of their work belies these labels. They boldly claimed their place at the vanguard of a centuries-old fight for equality, and their legacy continues to lead the way forward. The story of the Black Panther Party is one of violence and heartbreak and struggle and conviction. It is the story of a group of young people who set out to change the world around them— in very radical ways.