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A Moment in Time: Bingham’s Black Panthers

February 18, 2009

When I was in LA I got over to the California African American Museum to see Howard L. Bingham’s photographs of the Black Panther Party. The exhibit is made up of photographs from 1968 and ranges from the many different rallies and conferences to more casual encounters between the members. There are a few images of police repression, during an LA rally, and one of the bullet ridden headquarters in Oakland. Otherwise there is a different perspective, from the one I grew up with, in these photos of the Panthers. Absent were the, expected, “militants” with a guns imagery while portrayals of the organization and support being multi-generational and multi-racial. The Panthers did have their aesthetic and image down. A bunch of folks in black leather jackets with dark shades staring you down is super intimidating. The ability and seriousness of the party is conveyed in many of these images. There were also really incredible & beautiful “caught-in-the_moment” portraits of Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, and Stokely Carmichael. Its some Panther history worth checking out.

In 1968, under the auspices of Life magazine, photographer Howard L. Bingham and journalist Gilbert Moore began a journey to capture the activities of the Black Panther Party. From March through October, from Los Angeles to Oakland, and Berkeley to New York, Bingham’s camera immortalized moments in time with Huey P. Newton, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and his wife, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, David Hilliard, and the many initiates, believers and observers.

October 2, 2008 – May 31, 2009
California African American Museum
600 State Dr.
Exposition Park
Los Angeles, CA 90037

If you go you can also check out the Black Chrome, Black motorcycle gangs and their customized choppers!

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