Black Oakland Before the Panthers
The San Francisco Public Library's 13th Annual One City, One Book selection, Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, describes the emergence of this radical new movement in Oakland in the late 1960s and charts its spread across the United States in solidarity with revolutionary struggles around the world. But why Oakland? In what ways did the formation of African American society in that city in earlier decades pave the way for the rise of the Party's radical politics? In spring 2018 SFMOMA's Public Knowledge initiative will explore these questions with artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. In anticipation of his collaboration with Bay Area artists, writers, librarians, and archivists to surface the histories of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African American labor union, its leaders (such as C. L. Dellums and Morris "Dad" Moore), and the communities that grew up around the railroad, "Black Oakland before the Panthers" brings together the voices of various experts on Oakland history to look forward by looking back. This program will be followed by a special screening of Handsworth Songs (1987), an early landmark film produced by Akomfrah as part of the Black Audio Film Collective.