On October 15, 1966–forty-Six Years ago today—Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. With membership that numbered in the thousands stretching across several American cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, the Panthers created a Ten-Point Program, a document that called for “Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace” for Blacks in America.
In 1995 Mario Van Peebles directed and released the film Panther based on a screenplay by his father Melvin. The movie starred Marcus Chong as Huey P. Newton and Courtney Vance as Bobby Seale. There was an accompanying soundtrack, as was the case with many films in the ’90s, that spawned two videos. One was “The Points,” featuring a collection of rappers from across the country including Notorious B.I.G., Coolio, Redman, Ill Al Skratch and Busta Rhymes produced by Easy Mo Bee. The other was “Freedom” “featuring a chorus of over 60 African-American female artists and groups of note in hip-hop, pop and R&B music including Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, MC Lyte, Coko, En Vogue, SWV, TLC, Lisa Lopes, and Monica.
Despite the title, few of the artists in question stayed on topic on “The Points”, rather tapping into their own interpretations of Black discontent with very few direct references to The Black Panthers. But the song remains a conversation piece because it was one the few songs to feature rappers from East and West regions in the ’90s.
Freedom was far more expansive boasting both a rap and R&B version where the sisters more directly discussed issues of oppression and inequality.
Read more about the anniversary of The Black Panthers at NewsOne.com.