All Power to the People
Opening with a montage of four hundred years of race conflict in America, this powerful documentary provides the historical context for the establishment of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in the mid-1960s.
Organized by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, the Party soon embodied every major element of the civil rights movement which preceded it and the Black, Brown and Red power movements which it helped pioneer.
The Party struck fear in the hearts of the white capitalist power structure, which feared it as a terrorist group. During the Nixon years, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, with the cooperation of the CIA, used all means at their disposal to infiltrate and derail the Black Power movement. Methods of state repression included assassination, frame-ups, dirty tricks and black propaganda.
Witnesses include not only Party veterans and other Black Power pioneers and political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dr. Mutulu Skakur and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, but also "establishment" figures like former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, CIA officer Philip Edward Agee, and retired FBI agents.
Yet, the documentary is not a paean to the Panthers, for it criticizes the megalomania, corruption, and narcissism of some Party leaders, while it praises their courage and idealism.
Whether or not one is sympathetic to the Black Panthers, the film is an important historic look at the political and racial turmoils of the 1960s and an up-close look at the leading players.