The Pioneering Women Of The Black Panther Party

Angela Davis
Shonda Buchanan
October 15, 2020

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) would not have been such an iconic force if not for the work of the powerful women who fought and organized alongside the men. Where are these women today? 

Elaine Brown became one of the most prominent women of the Black Panther Party as its Chair from 1974 to 1977 – the only woman to hold this title. Today, she continues her work as a prison reform, education, and juvenile justice activist and her autobiography, “A Taste of Power,” details her experiences in the BPP. 

Widow of Huey P. Newton, Fredrika Newton worked on the Black Panther Party Newspaper. She later became an educator and organizer and helped establish the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation.

Communications Secretary and the first woman to have a decision-making vote in the party, Kathleen Cleaver obtained her law degree at Yale, became a lecturer at Emory University, and continued her work toward human rights for Black people as scholar and activist.

The most recognizable woman of the BPP is educator, award-winning author, and activist Angela Davis. A lifetime communist, she fought police brutality and racism from a Marxist ideology for decades. Professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Davis continues to be an in-demand lecturer.

Writer for the Panther newsletter and mother of Tupac Shakur, Afeni Shakur spent her life as an activist, artist, poet and actress.

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