The Black PanthersPhotographs of Stephen Shames
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In 1966 Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party, shocking the largely nonviolent American civil rights movement by embracing militant tactics to advance its revolutionary agenda for social change and empowerment of African-Americans. Its methods were so controversial that in 1968, FBI head J. Edgar Hoover described the organization as the country's greatest internal security threat.
From 1967 to 1972, Stephen Shames’s remarkable insider status enabled him to create an uncommonly nuanced portrait of this dynamic social movement. He photographed its public face—street demonstrations, protests, and militant armed posturing—but also behind-the-scenes moments, from private Party meetings held in its headquarters to Bobby Seale at work on his mayoral campaign in Oakland. Released on the occasion of the Party's fortieth anniversary, this collection of never-before-published photographs and ephemera convey an electrifying visual history of both the Panthers and of this dynamic period of social upheaval.
Stephen Shames’s images are in the permanent collections of the International Center of Photography (ICP), New York; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, among others He has received awards from Kodak (Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism), Leica, ICP, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial (RFK Journalism Award). The founder of the Stephen Shames Foundation, which helps bring Ugandan AIDS orphans and child soldiers back to school, he lives in Brooklyn.
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Panthers listen to Huey P. Newton give a radio talk during Bobby Seale's trial, New Haven, May 1970