Review of Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People

Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
by Kekla Magoon
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    390 pp.    g
11/21    978-1-5362-1418-5    $24.99

In October 1966, in Oakland, California, Black college students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale began to organize in reaction to rising police brutality in Black communities. Those plans birthed the Black ­Panther Party, established as a response to an unjust system and one of the most misunderstood political parties/movements in modern history. “The Panthers played several roles: they were civil rights and human rights activists, militant revolutionaries, and community organizers, and they were also a political party.” Magoon (Light It Up, rev. 11/19; The Highest ­Tribute, rev. 1/21) has produced a comprehensive and all-encompassing account of the group. Initially formed with the intent to monitor the police — legally — the Party created and expanded multiple social programs that served their communities. Providing, in the first four chapters of the book, an overview of centuries of enslavement, torture, oppression, lies, and aggression, Magoon likens the treatment of Black Americans to an earthquake, noting that “the major turning points of history are seismic, born of eons of slightly shifting geologic plates. They do not emerge from nowhere. They are born of deep unrest.” Her history of the Black Panther Party is ­meticulously detailed, from the creation of its Ten-Point Platform and Program to the eventual divide in leadership ­following sabotage by the FBI’s covert ­counterintelligence program, ­COINTELPRO. Magoon goes beyond the dissolution of the Party to discuss life for Black Americans from 1982 to 2020, expertly drawing parallels between the Black Panther Party and the Black Lives Matter movement. A wealth of quotes, photos, and sidebars enriches the book. Complete with an author’s note, an annotated list of key players in the Black Panther Party, a timeline of important events, a glossary of terms, a bibliography for further reading, and source notes, this compelling work would be invaluable for both individual and classroom reading.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eboni Njoku
Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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