History has long denied the political genius of the Black Panther Party. At worst, its members have been cast as unconscionable criminals. At best, such seminal figures as party founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and early supporter Stokely Carmichael have been portrayed as outlaw folk heroes who, propelled by the progressive winds of the late 1960s, dared to take on the establishment.
But a UCLA graduate student in sociology who worked alongside former Panthers a decade ago as a community organizer in Oakland, Calif., didn’t buy the conventional wisdom. (more…)