Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party
Foreword by Angela Davis: “This stunning collection of historical photographs, complimented by contemporary conversations with women members of the Black Panther Party, reminds us that women were literally the heart of this new political approach to Black freedom.”
Many of us have heard these three words: Black Panther Party. Some know the Party’s history as a movement for the social, political, economic and spiritual upliftment of Black and indigenous people of color – but to this day, few know the story of the backbone of the Party: the women.
It’s estimated that six out of ten Panther Party members were women. While these remarkable women of all ages and diverse backgrounds were regularly making headlines agitating, protesting, and organizing, off-stage these same women were building communities and enacting social justice, providing food, housing, education, healthcare, and more. Comrade Sisters is their story.
The book combines photos by Stephen Shames, who at the time was a 20-year-old college student at Berkeley. With the complete trust of the Black Panther Party, Shames took intimate, behind-the-scenes photographs that fully portrayed Party members’ lives. This marks his third photo book about the Black Panthers and includes many never before published images.
Ericka Huggins, an early Party member and leader along with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, has written a moving text, sharing what drew so many women to the Party and focusing on their monumental work on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens. Most importantly, the book includes contributions from over fifty former women members – some well-known, others not – who vividly recall their personal experiences from that time. Other texts include a foreword by Angela Davis and an afterword by Alicia Garza. All Power to the People.
From schools to free food and health care, the group’s majority female membership carried out life-sustaining, grass-roots programs that went far beyond politics….This book rewrites the record through images and testimonials of the women who — as teachers, students, writers, musicians, medics, mothers, daughters, aunties, worshipers, factory laborers and so much more — grew a movement by taking the well-being of the community into their own hands.– “The New York Times”
This book rewrites the record through images and testimonials of the women who — as teachers, students, writers, musicians, medics, mothers, daughters, aunties, worshipers, factory laborers and so much more — grew a movement by taking the well-being of the community into their own hands.– “The New York Times”
Because of the trust that Shames [the photographer] established, he was able to make intimate photographs that are really quite different than a lot of media coverage of the Panthers. In his new book…Shames takes us away from a dominant view of the Black Panthers by focusing on the women, not the men, who were involved at that time….Interestingly enough…some six out of 10 people in the Black Panthers were women. This is what Shames’s new book is all about. It peels back the curtain on their lives and contributions to the movement. While the women of the Black Panther Party were definitely working alongside their male counterparts agitating and protesting, they also were instrumental in…”building communities and enacting social justice, providing food, housing, education, health care, and more”….This is precisely what Shames’s photos show. “In Sight,”– “The Washington Post”
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