‘Vanguard of a Revolution’: Black Panther doc screens at the IMU

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution

Iowa Memorial Union — Thursday, Feb. 11 at 4 p.m.

'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution'
The 2015 documentary screens on Feb. 11.

You couldn’t ask for better publicity: This past Sunday, Beyoncé took the field in a Superbowl halftime show that, among other things, paid visual homage to the Black Panther legacy. The backlash was swift and astounding. Even today — despite being couched in a new hit single and surrounded by a more contemporary Black Lives Matter narrative — such imagery can cause controversy, from the outrage of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who considered it an “outrageous … attack [on] police officers,” to a planned “Anti-Anti Beyoncé Protest Rally” to support the performer in the face of a planned rally against her outside NFL headquarters.

The rhetoric of the response is almost as fierce as Queen B herself: pushing the #bluelivesmatter hashtag and repeatedly referring to the Black Panthers as a hate group, the performance’s detractors have made their position more than clear. Still, for a great number of viewers, while the Carolina Panthers may have lost the game, Beyoncé and her Black Panthers definitively won it.

On Feb. 11, at the Iowa Memorial Union, a more nuanced, historical point of view on the Black Panthers will be presented. Stanley Nelson’s 2015 documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution, which has been on the festival circuit in the U.S. and worldwide, and enjoyed a wide release in the U.K. in October, screens at 4 p.m. It chronicles the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, and includes rare archival footage. The film’s website says it is “the first feature length documentary to showcase the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails.”

Following the screening there will be a panel discussion with UI History Professor Keisha N. Blain, University Special Collections archivist David McCartney and Religion and African American Studies Professor Richard Brent Turner. The free event is sponsored by the University’s Department of History, the Obermann Center, Office of Graduate Inclusion, African American Studies Program, Department of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and the Department of Cinematic Arts.

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