The Black Panthers: Making Sense of History Photographs by Stephen Shames

Panthers line up at a Free Huey rally in DeFermery Park
Oakland, California
July 28, 1968.

January 28 – March 24, 2008

In 1967, the year after the Black Panther Party was founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, Stephen Shames was invited to photograph party activities, and he continued to do so until 1973. His close friendship with the Panthers, and Seale in particular, gave Shames unusual access to the organization, allowing him to capture not only the public face of the Party—street demonstrations, protests, and militant posturing—but also unscripted behind-the-scenes moments, from private meetings held in the Party headquarters, to Bobby Seale at work on his mayoral campaign in Oakland. The immediacy and intimacy of Shames’s photographs offer an uncommonly nuanced portrait of this dynamic social movement, during one of the most tumultuous periods in recent U.S. history.

Angela Davis speaks at a rally in DeFremery Park for George Jackson and the other Soledad Brothers, who were on trial for the murder of a guard at Soledad Prison. Next to Davis is party member James Burford.
Oakland, California
George Jackson’s coffin is brought into St. Augustine’s Church.
Oakland, California
August 1971
At home, Huey P. Newton listens to Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.
Berkeley, California

Public Program

4:00 p.m.
February 20

Talk: Stephen Shames

The presentation of this exhibition is supported by an arts program grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support comes from the Friends of the Library & Gallery and individual contributions.