Collection Artwork
Stephen Shames (born Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1947)
The window of Black Panther Party National Headquarters at Grove and Forty-fifth Streets in Oakland after shots were fired by police following Huey Newton’s murder trial verdict
gelatin silver print on Kodak paper
image size: 9 1/8 x 6 in.
The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum
Oakland, California, United States, North America
Inscribed in blue ink, verso, upper center: Huey Newton Poster / after attack on Panther office / by the Oakland Police / OAKLAND, CA.
Inscribed in blue ink, verso, upper right: 2 [encircled]
Label adhered, verso: Matrix International Inc. / 46 East 21st Street 3rd Floor / New York, NY 10010 / Telephone 212 477-9500 / FAX 212 477-2845 / Telex 205678 MATRIX UR
Stamped in black ink on label, adhered, verso, center: ©1994 Stephen Shames/Matrix
Signed on label, adhered, verso, center: Stephen Shames
Stamped in blue ink, verso, lower center below label: Please Credit: © Stephen Shames 1978
Inscribed in pencil on label, adhered, verso, center: 310-12
Inscribed in blue ink on label, adhered, verso, center: 2 [encircled]

Installation views

Object Label

For me the most important part of the Black Panthers’ legacy is a belief that one can effect change even when things seem hopeless.
—Stephen Shames

Huey Newton and Bobby Seale cofounded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1966. The party’s Ten Point Platform and Program included demands for freedom, employment, restitution for slavery, decent housing, education, fair trials, and an end to police brutality against black people.

The Black Panthers set themselves apart from other civil rights organizations of the time with their firm belief in their right to defend themselves from racist attacks “by any means necessary,” a position adopted from Malcolm X. Acting legally, they carried loaded guns in public, patrolling police to ensure they treated people of color justly. Those firearms, as well as black berets and leather jackets, visually united the party.

Although notorious for its guns and violent altercations with the police, by the early 1970s, the BPP focused heavily on “survival programs,” providing needs left unfulfilled by the government. Grassroots initiatives included free breakfasts for children, free health clinics, free clothing programs, political education classes, and disease prevention education.

From the exhibition: Give a damn. (June 30 – September 30, 2018)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.
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