A ‘superb’ Black Panthers documentary

Nelson Jr. profiles group’s militant tactics and successes

Star Rating:  4/5

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is a vital and superb documentary film that wonderfully depicts The Black Panther’s attack against white patriarchy and capitalism in America during the 1960s.

The Panthers had a more militant and aggressive way of demanding racial equality and justice for people of colour. The group was more militant due to the racism and police brutality they endured, and director and writer Stanley Nelson Jr. flawlessly proves the significance of the Black Panther as both a political and cultural force in black history.

The documentary begins with a young Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale realizing it was legal to carry loaded guns in public in the 1960s. They also understood that carrying loaded weapons in the vicinity of police that are near Oakland’s black population could possibly instigate them and draw further attention to racial justice issues. Newton and Seale then chose to organize the Panther party, which began with a focus on militancy but soon launched major charitable programs, including a famous free-breakfast effort that fed children up to 20,000 meals a week.

The film is very comprehensive for a two-hour film. Nelson Jr. wonderfully uses a mixture of old archived video footage and interviews from surviving Panthers, relatives and white supporters to show that the revolutionary Panthers only hated the oppression they faced in America, and not white people.

They were fearless in demanding better housing and education for people of colour, and they actively advocated for social change, specifically, the end of police brutality.

Well-known Panther names such as Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver and Fred Hampton also play an instrumental part in the footage of this documentary, helping to add context to a history that needs to be told and is not yet fully understood.

The film will be showing on Thursday, Feb. 11 at the Carlton Cinema at 9pm. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is part of the Toronto Black Film Festival, which runs from Feb. 10 to 14.


A ‘superb’ Black Panthers documentary