Women in the Black Panther Party

Yellessety, Leela

Publisher:  Europe Solidaires Sans Frontieres
Date Written:  01/12/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23158

While much that has been written about the Black Panther Party (BPP) is focused on the role of certain prominent male leaders, lesser known is that during peak membership women made up nearly two-thirds of the party. Leela Yellessety spoke to three authors of recent books that highlight the contribution of women in the Black Panther Party.



A number of important developments formed the backdrop for this contestation. The massive campaign of police and FBI violence and surveillance resulted in the death and incarceration of prominent male leadership early on, and women often stepped in to fill the vacuum. At the same time, female members were not spared from state repression. In May 1969, Ericka Huggins and the rest of the New Haven chapter leadership were arrested on murder charges. Of the eight defendants, five were women, three of whom were pregnant. The incarcerated Panthers organized their fellow prisoners to demand better health care and treatment.

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