From organizing free breakfast programs to leading initiatives centered on equity in healthcare, women were the backbone of the Black Panther Party. A new book visually captures their unwavering resilience and transformative contributions toward the fight for Black liberation.
Titled “Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party,” the book encompasses over 100 poignant images taken by award-winning photojournalist Stephen Shames. The Massachusetts native was introduced to the collective in 1966 while pursuing his degree at Berkeley and was given permission by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale to take candid photos that documented the Black Panther Party’s community-focused efforts and rallies. The collection includes images of women hosting health fairs, organizing food drives, teaching youth, and leading an array of other projects with the mission of uplifting their communities. Over 60 percent of Black Panther Party members were women.
Intertwining imagery and words, “Comrade Sisters”—which is co-authored by activist Ericka Huggins—also encompasses written excerpts from interviews with over 50 women who were part of the Black Panther movement and their loved ones.
“Because the media tended to focus on what could be easily sensationalized, there has been a tendency to forget that the organizing work that truly made the Black Panther Party relevant to a new era of struggle for liberation was largely carried out by women,” wrote revered revolutionary activist and Black Panther Party leader Angela Davis, who penned the book’s forward.
The book also includes an inter-generational element with an afterword by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza. A nine-city book tour is slated to kick off in Oakland on Oct. 9, with stops in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Seattle, Tacoma, Los Angeles, Portland, and New York. “Comrade Sisters” is slated to hit shelves on Oct. 10.
News about the book comes nearly a year after a mutual aid program was created to provide support and resources for veteran Black Panther Party members.
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