I learned something new about the Blaxploitation movement, that in addition to the NAACP, the Black Panthers at some point also started to protest this genre of film. Seems like they had more of a love / hate relationship with Blaxploitation.
I thought that the Panthers were supportive of these films that showed Black folks stickin’ it to the man. Todd Boyd supports this view with the following excerpt from his article Blaxploitation’s Baadasssss History (http://www.theroot.com/views/blaxploitation-s-baadasssss-history):
Yet Huey P. Newton, head of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, wrote his own lengthy essay about the film in the Panthers’ newspaper. Arguing that Sweetback was a cultural reflection of the same types of political ideas that the Panthers championed, he went on to suggest that the movie was the “first truly revolutionary black film.”Sweetback would become required viewing for members of the Black Panther Party.
However, I recently came across the following film archive from San Francisco that shows the Panthers protesting Blaxploitation films. The link to the film clip is here https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/208083. The summary of the interview with Bobby Seale is below:
KPIX Eyewitness news report from September 27th, 1972 featuring a protest over the exploitation of the Black community in Blaxploitation films. Protesters carry signs that read, “The Black Community Will Not Be Exploited Anymore!” Seale gives an interview in which he discusses the ways in which white producers exploit the black community to make Blaxploitation films. Seale says, “they use the Black community to make the movies in the first place, so why can’t the black community at least get a percentage back?” Seale proposes that the Black Panthers’ Survival Programs should get a percentage of the profits from Blaxploitation genre films which could then be reinvested in the Black community.
According to the book There’s A Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars and the Rise And Fall Of 60’s Counter Culture by Peter Doggett, the protest captured in the KPIX film clip was over The Mack, which was being filmed in Oakland. Reportedly, Huey P. Newton also had a problem with Superfly, declaring it “part of a conspiracy”.
Learn something new everyday…