Monday, July 22, 2024

Panther Baby

February 18, 2012

Panther Baby Event, with Jamal Joseph

I experienced an extraordinary night last night in Harlem. My lifelong friend, Professor Jamal Joseph, had a book release event and lecture for his biography "Panther Baby." Jamal and I were both in the Harlem Branch of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense at the same time.

Jamal was part of the famous Panther 21 Trial along with Afeni Shakur, (Tupac's mother) and nineteen others. After a lengthy trial "The 21" were acquitted of all charges.

Jamal has been nominated for an Academy Award and is a top professor at the film school of prestigious Columbia University. He's also an accomplished playwright, poet, spoken-word artist and the founder of IMPACT Repertory Theatre.

At his event I saw more people from my childhood than I've seen in a very long time. There was Kathleen Cleaver; former Minister of Communication and the highest ranking woman in the Black Panther Party, who is now a law professor and author, Felipe Luciano; legendary member of the Last Poets, former chairman of the Young Lords (the Latino colleagues of the Panthers), an author and two-time Emmy winning network newscaster, Reggie Lucas; groundbreaking guitarist songwriter record producer, former member of Miles Davis' Band, schoolmate, and co-producer of Madonna's first album.

The room was packed with folks I've known since I was sixteen years old, when I was a Panther Baby.

Jamal Joseph speaking about the Black Panther 21 case on the green at the University of Vermont - Burlington, Vermont - 1971

Tupac and Afeni Shakur

Kathleen Cleaver, minister of communication for the Black Panther Party

Felipe Luciano on the right, as Chairman of the Young Lords

Jamal Joseph with his award winning IMPACT Repertory Theatre during a performance piece

Reggie Lucas back in the day

The room was packed with folks I've known since I was sixteen years old, when I was a Panther Baby

A year after this shot, I'd turn sixteen years old and join The Black Panther Party

Madonna's "Borderline" single - written and produced by Reggie Lucas

Two time Emmy Award winning journalist Felipe Luciano and me, at the Panther Baby event