U. Maryland photo exhibit offers alternate view of Black Panther Party
April 3, 2001
By Melanie Starkey
(U-WIRE) COLLEGE PARK, Md.The Black Panther Party, with its trademark black
berets, leather jackets and guns, grew out of the civil rights movement of
the 1960s to become a symbol of the political turbulence of the '70s.
In commemoration of the party and its social contributions, the Black
Student Union is sponsoring "The Legacy of the Panthers" photography
exhibit in the University of Maryland's Student Union Parent's Association
Gallery. The exhibit, which opened Monday and will run through April 13,
features 70 black-and-white photographs depicting the Panthers' programs
for children and the elderly, as well as Panther health clinics, and
education and tutoring centers.
BSU President Mazi Belcher said the exhibit is an "alternative to how
people commonly perceive the Panthers."
"The mainstream media said one thing about the Panthers. There was another
viable, credible media outlet that said the exact opposite," he said.
Photographers featured in the exhibit, including actress Candice Bergen,
were a part of that alternative media, Belcher said.
Alicia Simon, program coordinator for the gallery, spent Monday putting
finishing touches on the exhibit, adjusting lighting and painting the walls.
"It seemed like a very comprehensive exhibit, very different from anything
we've offered before," said Simon, who added that the gallery rarely hosts
photo documentaries. "This really tries to show that the movement was about
The Black Panther Party formed in 1966 out of the efforts of Huey P. Newton
and Bobby Seale, two junior college students in California. Stressed among
the party's 10-point program were freedom, employment, housing, education
and health care, as well as the right to defense from police brutality. The
party spoke to the black urban underclass by fulfilling these basic human
needs, according to The Legacy of the Panthers, a book featuring photos
from the exhibit.
"People will be challenged on some level about their notions about the
Panthers and notions about history," Belcher said.
Besides community programs, the photos record Newton's visit to Beijing, as
well as a meeting with Yassir Arafat.
"I never expected them to be pictured with certain people," said Tiffany
Foxworth, a sophomore communication major visiting the exhibit, as she
looked at the photos.
Belcher said it was important to understand the universality of the movement.
"It's about informing people about what was, and helping people to
understand why people acted as they did, and why the Panthers resonated
with people that were not members of the black community," he said.
Samantha Jones, coordinator for the Parent's Association Gallery, worked
with Belcher to bring the California-based exhibit across the country. She
said it was important for students to see the Panthers' community advocacy
in order to understand their driving force.
"In order for us to move on with our future, we have to understand our
history and why organizations like this were in place," she said. "If there
had never been racism or oppression, there wouldn't have been a need for
the Black Panther Party."
The exhibit is run by the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Apr 09 2001 - 21:13:25 EDT