The struggle of the Black Panthers is alive today. It is a struggle for political recognition and representation, for equal rights and emancipation from systemic oppression and persistent exploitation. The Black Panthers were not ambivalent about their goals, theirs was an internationalist, socialist, abolitionist program.
For many activists today, the slavery paradigm has not ended but has merely transformed into the prevalence of prison labour and institutional racism. The slaveowners have been liberalised, the new masters are faceless corporations run for the benefit of disparate financial interests. Black liberation has not been achieved, and this is why we are seeing a new generation of activists.
In 2018 we organised an exhibition with a 2-day long symposium in the context of the work of Emory Douglas. As cultural minister of the Black Panthers’ Party, Douglas understood that the systemic transformation demanded by the decedents of american slaves would require an international solidarity network and generations of struggle to achieve, such a network could not be built and sustained by politics alone, it required a cultural dimension which could coalesce and sustain the movement through the challenges.
On November 28th, 2018 Black Panthers of the first hour, Emory Douglas and Kathleen Cleaver, in the former U.S. embassy in The Hague, were in conversation moderated by the curator of the exhibition Juan Pablo Fajardo. A dialogue about past and present, about motives and the importance of friendship. It's not about white or black, it's about solidarity and friendship, that's the only way to change the world. Kathleen Cleaver drew our attention to the urgency of empathy, and stressed the importance of dialogue.