Many of us have heard these three words: Black Panther Party. Some know the Party’s history as a movement for the social, political, economic and spiritual upliftment of Black and indigenous people of colour – but to this day, few know the story of the backbone of the Party: the women.
It’s estimated that six out of ten Panther Party members were women. While these remarkable women of all ages and diverse backgrounds were regularly making headlines agitating, protesting, and organizing, off-stage these same women were building communities and enacting social justice, providing food, housing, education, healthcare, and more. Comrade Sisters is their story.
The book combines photos by Stephen Shames, who at the time was a 20-year-old college student at Berkeley. With the complete trust of the Black Panther Party, Shames took intimate, behind-the-scenes photographs that fully portrayed Party members’ lives. This marks his third photo book about the Black Panthers and includes many never before published images.
Ericka Huggins, an early Party member and leader along with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, has written a moving text, sharing what drew so many women to the Party and focusing on their monumental work on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens. Most importantly, the book includes contributions from over 50 former women members – some well-known, others not – who vividly recall their personal experiences from that time. Other texts include a foreword by Angela Davis and an afterword by Alicia Garza.
Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party is published by ACC Art Books.