• The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland

    Author(s):
    Pages: 280
    Illustrations: 9 photographs
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
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  • Acknowledgments  ix

    Introduction  1

    1. Seize the Time: The Roots of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California  7

    2. In Defense of Self-Defense  35

    3. Moving on Many Fronts: The Black Panther Party's Transformation from Local Organization to Mass Movement  61

    4. Inside Political Repression, 1969–1971  88

    5. "Revolution Is a Process Rather Than a Conclusion": Rebuilding the Party, 1971–1974  114

    6. The Politics of Survival: Electoral Politics and Organizational Transformation  143

    7. "I Am We": The Demise of the Black Panther Party, 1977–1982  177

    Conclusion  202

    Notes  205

    Bibliography  241

    Index  253
  • "In The Revolution Has Come, her detailed organizational history of the party, the historian Robyn C. Spencer reminds us that for the party’s leaders, it was critical that their platform be accessible, as [Huey P.] Newton put it, to 'the brothers on the block.'"

    "Unlike other scholarship that has foregrounded a handful of primarily male leaders, Spencer’s account is a well-rounded organizational history. . . . The author deftly weaves together an impressive source base to present a cohesive and accessible narrative of the evolution of the Black Panther Party. Highly recommended."

    "This book is an outstanding contribution to the growing literature on the history of the struggle of African Americans to liberate themselves. Spencer’s attention to historical details, with respect to the critical stages and features that marked the short lifespan . . . of the BPP, is breathtaking."

    "The author’s crisp, clean, incisive prose proved an eye-opening reading experience that at times left me dumbfounded as to how many myths and assumptions have come to dominate latter-day perceptions of the Panthers."

    "Spencer’s narrative reshapes how we see the Black Panther Party."

    "The Revolution Has Come raises important questions about social movement organizing then and now, including the role of government repression in fomenting and publicizing, subverting and draining, and fundamentally channeling and altering radical political movements."

    "Spencer’s attention to women and gender provides a much-needed intervention in the historiography of the [Black Panther] Party and of Black Power more broadly. ... Ultimately, her book reveals how the Party and its dynamic women members and gender frameworks offer a roadmap for a new generation of historians, activists, and revolution."

    "The Revolution Has Come sits on a weighty body of research and a weighty body of everyday experiences and voices."

    "The Revolution Has Come is a brilliantly balanced study on the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. ... [It] adds to recent scholarship on the BPP in unique and refreshing ways."

    Reviews

  • "In The Revolution Has Come, her detailed organizational history of the party, the historian Robyn C. Spencer reminds us that for the party’s leaders, it was critical that their platform be accessible, as [Huey P.] Newton put it, to 'the brothers on the block.'"

    "Unlike other scholarship that has foregrounded a handful of primarily male leaders, Spencer’s account is a well-rounded organizational history. . . . The author deftly weaves together an impressive source base to present a cohesive and accessible narrative of the evolution of the Black Panther Party. Highly recommended."

    "This book is an outstanding contribution to the growing literature on the history of the struggle of African Americans to liberate themselves. Spencer’s attention to historical details, with respect to the critical stages and features that marked the short lifespan . . . of the BPP, is breathtaking."

    "The author’s crisp, clean, incisive prose proved an eye-opening reading experience that at times left me dumbfounded as to how many myths and assumptions have come to dominate latter-day perceptions of the Panthers."

    "Spencer’s narrative reshapes how we see the Black Panther Party."

    "The Revolution Has Come raises important questions about social movement organizing then and now, including the role of government repression in fomenting and publicizing, subverting and draining, and fundamentally channeling and altering radical political movements."

    "Spencer’s attention to women and gender provides a much-needed intervention in the historiography of the [Black Panther] Party and of Black Power more broadly. ... Ultimately, her book reveals how the Party and its dynamic women members and gender frameworks offer a roadmap for a new generation of historians, activists, and revolution."

    "The Revolution Has Come sits on a weighty body of research and a weighty body of everyday experiences and voices."

    "The Revolution Has Come is a brilliantly balanced study on the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. ... [It] adds to recent scholarship on the BPP in unique and refreshing ways."

  • "Tearing down myths and distortions on virtually every page, The Revolution Has Come is the first substantive account of the Black Panther Party’s Oakland chapter—the iconic gathering that birthed the party and held on to its very last breath. Robyn C. Spencer’s incisive attention to gender, state repression, black radical alliances, philosophical and ideological debates, and the organization’s long decline makes this one of the most original studies of the Panthers to appear in years." — Robin D. G. Kelley, author of, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

    "Using a wealth of interviews and extensive archival research, Robyn C. Spencer narrates the untold history of the Black Panther Party from the inside out. A wonderful storyteller, Spencer shines a light on both the incredible promise of the Panther programs and the overwhelming, coordinated repression of the government programs designed to destroy them. Equally revealing, she shows that the Panthers' organizational reaction to this repression contributed to their demise. Most important, Spencer threads the voices of Panther women, showing how their critical leadership, skills, and creativity sustained the organization. Beautifully written, this brilliant and groundbreaking work is important for young activists on so many levels." — Judy Richardson, coeditor of, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC

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  • Description

    In The Revolution Has Come Robyn C. Spencer traces the Black Panther Party's organizational evolution in Oakland, California, where hundreds of young people came to political awareness and journeyed to adulthood as members. Challenging the belief that the Panthers were a projection of the leadership, Spencer draws on interviews with rank-and-file members, FBI files, and archival materials to examine the impact the organization's internal politics and COINTELPRO's political repression had on its evolution and dissolution. She shows how the Panthers' members interpreted, implemented, and influenced party ideology and programs; initiated dialogues about gender politics; highlighted ambiguities in the Panthers' armed stance; and criticized organizational priorities. Spencer also centers gender politics and the experiences of women and their contributions to the Panthers and the Black Power movement as a whole. Providing a panoramic view of the party's organization over its sixteen-year history, The Revolution Has Come shows how the Black Panthers embodied Black Power through the party's international activism, interracial alliances, commitment to address state violence, and desire to foster self-determination in Oakland's black communities.

    About The Author(s)

    Robyn C. Spencer is Associate Professor of History at Lehman College, City University of New York.

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