“This stunning collection of historical photographs, complemented by contemporary conversations with women members of the Black Panther Party, reminds us that women were literally the heart of this new political approach to Black freedom.” – Angela Davis
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 color – 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, these same women were building communities and enacting social justice, providing food, housing, education, healthcare, and more to the people. Comrade Sisters is their story.
A long time coming, Comrade Sisters is the first book to tell the story of the women of the Black Panther Party. In the age of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, the issues and solutions raised in this unique and powerful book are as relevant today as when the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, California on October 15, 1966.
Interwoven throughout the book are 110 photographs by celebrated photojournalist Stephen Shames who was a 19-year-old college student at Berkeley when he first met the BPP in 1966. With the complete trust of the Black Panther Party behind him, Stephen was given unprecedented access to take photographs not only of the protests and rallies, but also behind-the-scenes moments that provide a fuller, more nuanced portrait of the lives of the women Party members with their families and serving their communities. This marks Stephen’s third photo book about the Black Panthers and includes many never before published images of the women of the BPP.
Ericka Huggins, an early Party member and leader along with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, has written a moving introductory 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, Comrade Sisters includes contributions from over fifty former women members and their families – some well-known, others not – who vividly recall their personal experiences from that time.
Ericka notes, “One book is not large enough to tell all of their stories—their tales of compassion and solidarity in the face of oppression could fill volumes. Yet, represented here is the organized, coordinated and sustained effort made by those who managed the multi-layered community services of the BPP, including grassroots campaigns to seat mayors, assemblypersons, judges, and neighborhood councils. I am honored to be the weaver who brings this tapestry of stories to the printed page.”
About the Authors:
Ericka Huggins is an activist, former political prisoner, and leader in the Black Panther Party. She has devoted her life to the equitable treatment of all human beings, beyond the boundaries of race, age, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and status associated with citizenship. For the past 40 years she has lectured across the country and internationally. She spent 14 years in the Black Panther Party, and eight years as Director of the renowned Oakland Community School (1973-1981).
Stephen Shames has authored 15 monographs, and his images are in the permanent collections of 40 museums and foundations. His work is dedicated to promoting social change and sharing the stories of those who are frequently overlooked by society. His two previous Panther books are Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers by Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale (Abrams, 2016) and The Black Panthers (Aperture, 2006).
Comrade Sisters : The Women of the Black Panther Party
ACC Art Books
Trim: 9.45 in x 11.02 in
192 pages, 110 b&w photographs
Price: $45 US