1. The Women Of The Black Panther Party
In honor of ‘Black Panther,’ which is in theaters Friday, we celebrate the women in the revolutionary organization. There were countless powerful women in the Black Panther Party, making up an estimated 50 percent of membership. Women played roles at every level, from press secretaries to chairwomen. Check out some of the Party’s most notable female members.
2. Kathleen Cleaver
Highly educated and well-traveled, Cleaver was the first woman in a major position of power in the BPP. Their National Communications Secretary, she is famous for articulating the Party’s message nationwide. She was married to Eldridge Cleaver, with whom she lived in exile for years after confrontations with police. Upon return, she got her law degree from Yale and became a lawyer, scholar and activist.
3. Angela Davis
Davis was an active member of the Communist Party and worked closely with the BPP in the 1960s and 70s. She was accused of several crimes in a courtroom standoff that left four dead. She spent time in jail, but was later acquitted of all charges. She maintains her innocence and has been an outspoken advocate for prisoners, as well as an author and scholar.
4. Afeni Shakur
Shakur is best known for her son, Tupac Shakur, but she was an incredible artist, poet, actress and activist. At 19, she met Malcolm X, who inspired her life of activism. She joined the BPP in ’64 and was an active member, writing articles for the Party newsletter. She was later accused of taking part in several bombing plots in NYC. Her case went to trial in ’71, where she famously defended herself — and was acquitted. Afeni passed away on May 2, 2016.