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Dialogue reflects on the Black Panther Party's legacy 50 years later

Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute hosts “Reflections on the Black Panther Party at 50” on Sept. 29, featuring Elaine Brown (left), activist and former Black Panther Party chair, and prominent Spelman College professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall (right). Photos courtesy JWJI.

Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute hosts “Reflections on the Black Panther Party at 50: Elaine Brown with Beverly Guy-Sheftall” on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 6:30pm in the Glenn Memorial Church Auditorium.

The dialogue will reflect on the Black Panther Party’s legacy in ongoing struggles for racial justice and honor black women’s leadership in the black power movement.

Featured guest Elaine Brown, legendary activist and former chairperson of the Black Panther Party, will be joined by prominent Spelman College professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall in this powerful one-on-one conversation. This event is free and open to the public.

This October marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. In the late 1960s, the Party entered the national spotlight for its stand against police brutality in black communities; its "survival programs," included free breakfast for school children and free health clinics; its coalitions with other people of color; and its efforts to bring about a political vision for racial justice in America. The Black Panther Party also became a highly controversial symbol of armed resistance to racism.

“Often in the popular historical recounting of The Party’s evolution, the role of black women’s leadership is diminished,” notes Kali-Ahset Amen, assistant director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute (JWJI). “It is our hope that this dialogue will serve at once as a commemoration of the Party, an examination of the continuing resonance of its platform for black empowerment, and crucially, as an unapologetic recognition of the central leadership of Elaine Brown, Kathleen Cleaver and a multitude of ordinary women doing extraordinary organizing work in communities on the ground.”

Another goal of the event is to highlight Brown’s papers, recently contributed to the African American collections of Emory's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library. Pellom McDaniels III, curator of African American collections for the Rose Library, will deliver opening remarks at the event.

“Reflections on the Black Panther party at 50” is also the inaugural program of the JWJI’s Public Dialogues in Race and Difference Series, which will be presented four times during the academic year at venues around Atlanta as well as on campus.

The dialogues are intended to reach broad audiences — to connect Emory with the wider Atlanta community through evidence-based discussions of timely topics on race in the Americas. In addition to the “Black Panther Party at 50” dialogue, this year’s series will feature explorations of race in U.S. presidential politics, and the persistence of racial inequity in the city of Atlanta. The James Weldon Johnson Institute is pleased to have the Laney Legacy Program in Moral Leadership at Candler School of Theology as a major co-sponsor of the series.

Visit the JWJI Special Programs webpage more information. RSVP and add the Sept. 29 event to your calendar via Eventbrite.

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