The Bay Area Celebrates the Black Panther Party at 50

The Black Panthers, with Elbert 'Big Man' Howard at right, engaged in a practice drill. (Pirkle Jones)

No matter how one looks at it, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense is an indelible part of U.S. history. Founded in October 1966 to empower the black community, its potent brand of social activism has inspired movements around the world.

Fifty years on, the Bay Area celebrates the revolutionary group that dug its roots in Oakland, commemorating the Panthers' legacy and history through dance, song and the visual arts. Here are some of the ways in which organizations and artists around the Bay Area are celebrating the anniversary:

The ‘Comrade Sister’ shrine honoring prominent women of the Black Panther Party at Impact Hub Oakland’s Omi Gallery.
The ‘Comrade Sister’ shrine honoring prominent women of the Black Panther Party at Impact Hub Oakland’s Omi Gallery. (Photo: Ashara Ekundayo)

Survival Pending Revolution: Black Panther Party at 50 Years and Comrade Sister

Oct. 7 - Jan. 7
Impact Hub, Oakland
Information and tickets

Impact Hub Oakland's Omi Gallery features photographs from archivist Lisbet Tellefsen's extensive collection on the Black Panther Party's history. Also on view is the show Comrade Sister, showcasing pieces that celebrate women's efforts within the revolutionary organization.

Emory Douglas, 'H. Rap Brown (Man with Match),' 1967.
Emory Douglas, 'H. Rap Brown (Man with Match),' 1967. (Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. All Of Us Or None Archive. Gift of the Rossman Family.)

The Point is... 2.0

Oct. 7 - Oct. 29
Joyce Gordon Gallery, Oakland
Information

Oakland Maroons Art Collective and former Black Panther Party Minister of Culture Emory Douglas present work reflecting the Black Panther Party's 10 Point Program as it relates to contemporary culture.

Richard Duardo / Lekit, 'Angela Davis'
Richard Duardo / Lekit, 'Angela Davis' (Courtesy of ICONIC: Black Panther Art Exhibit)

ICONIC: Black Panther

Oct. 7 - Nov. 6
American Steel Studios, Oakland
Information

The multi-city exhibit curates work by local artists, international talents and founding Black Panther Party members that respond to the organization's historical efforts as well as issues surrounding race, culture, class and gender.

A model wears Madow Futur's apparel.
A model wears Madow Futur's apparel. (Courtesy of Madow Futur.)

50 Years Later: The Art Show

Oct. 7
SoleSpace, Oakland
Information

Black-owned, Oakland-based clothing company Madow Futur combines fashion, art, and music to respond to the same issues challenged by the Black Panther Party and commemorate the organization's work through a youth-oriented lens.

Bobby Hutton, the Black Panther Party's treasurer and first recruit.
Bobby Hutton, the Black Panther Party's treasurer and first recruit. (Courtesy of Life is Living Fest)

Life is Living Festival

Oct. 8
DeFremery Park, Oakland
Information

Now in its ninth year, Life is Living Festival pays tribute to the Black Panther Party on the organization's 50th anniversary with social justice workshops, a free breakfast program and other community events, all aptly set in the newly-dedicated "Bobby Hutton Grove" named in honor of the young Black Panther who was shot by police.

Sam Durant, 'Proposal for a Monument to Huey Newton at the Alameda County Courthouse.'
Sam Durant, 'Proposal for a Monument to Huey Newton at the Alameda County Courthouse.' (Photo: Courtesy Oakland Museum of California)

All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50

Oct. 8 - Feb. 12
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland
Information and tickets

The Oakland Museum of California explores and recreates the history of the Black Panther Party from multiple perspectives through artifacts, personal accounts and iconic and contemporary art.

Members of Oakland’s Dimensions Dance Theater perform 'Project Panther,' choreographed and directed by Deborah Vaughan, Oct. 15 at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts.
Members of Oakland’s Dimensions Dance Theater perform 'Project Panther,' choreographed and directed by Deborah Vaughan, Oct. 15 at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. (Ed Miller)

Project Panther

Oct. 15
Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Oakland
Information and tickets

Under direction of Company Artistic Director Deborah Vaughan, African American dance company Dimensions Dance Theater reflects on race, politics and the Black Panther Party's place in our cultural history.

Jeffrey Blankfort, 'Black Panther Protest,' 1960s.
Jeffrey Blankfort, 'Black Panther Protest,' 1960s. (Courtesy African American Art & Culture Complex)

Black Panther Party 50th Anniversary Conference and Gala

Oct. 20 -23
Oakland Museum of California, Oscar Grant (City Hall) Plaza, Bobby Hutton Grove (DeFremery Park)
Information and tickets

Organized by former members of the Black Panther Party, the three-day conference seeks to explore and celebrate the organization's history, as well as examine the ways these experiences are applied in our current social climate through open workshops and panels.

Elder Freeman - Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Elder Freeman - Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party. (Courtesy of Suzun Lucia Lamaina)

Exhibition and Book Signing of Revolutionary Grain: Celebrating the Spirit of the Black Panthers in Portraits and Stories

Oct. 22 - Feb. 28
African American Museum and Library, Oakland
Information

Documentary photographer Suzun Lucia Lamaina spent the past five years traveling across the United States taking portraits of and speaking to more than 65 former members of the Black Panther Party. She collects all those stories in her book, Revolutionary Grain: Celebrating the Spirit of the Black Panthers in Portraits and Stories.

Counterculture newspapers on display as part of the Revolution Times exhibit.
Counterculture newspapers on display as part of the Revolution Times exhibit. (Courtesy of Revolution Times Facebook.)

Revolution Times: Underground Press of the '60s and '70s

Oct. 20 - Dec. 1
San Francisco State University Fine Arts Building
Information

Black Panther Party historian Billy X Jennings shares publications from his archives that challenged societal norms and helped organize the counterculture movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Jennings will speak about the collection at a gallery talk and reception on November 3..

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