The Black Panthers is one of the more-enigmatic organizations from the tumultuous 1960s. The group is often portrayed in popular movies and documentaries as militant, violent and shadowy. During its active years—1966-1982—the public viewed it in a similar, distrusting light. Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover even labeled the group "the greatest threat to internal security of the country."
On the other hand, the story of the Black Panthers is said to be one of feeding children, warding off violent police officers, protecting neighborhoods and working to alleviate poverty and improve health care in black communities.
The history of the Black Panthers is likely some combination of competing narratives, and one way to learn more about it is by listening to the perspectives of the people who lived it. Boise audiences will have two opportunities to do so on Tuesday, Feb. 14, when Jamal Joseph, who spent his formative years participating in and organizing the Panthers, visits Boise and shares his story.
Local literary haven Rediscovered Bookshop helped bring the author to Boise for a series of events. A luncheon will take place at noon at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel, and proceeds from tax-deductable ticket sales will benefit Idaho Black History Museum. A dessert reception will be held place at the Owyhee at 7:30 p.m., and proceeds will benefit the Idaho Human Rights Education Center.
Joseph's new book, Panther Baby, will be released this month, and those who attend either of the events will receive an autographed copy.