Review: The New Huey P. Newton Reader

The New Huey P. Newton Reader The New Huey P. Newton Reader by Huey P. Newton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Growing up, the Black Panthers were given a negative connotation by the culture around me and Huey Newton was utterly unknown--not a name that came forward during Black history month or at any other point. His name arose in college, occasionally, but barely. Rather, he appeared on my radar in grad school and beyond, but still, never a full picture.  This book is that fuller and richer picture of his life, his work, and ideas, coupled with the counter-intelligence reports from the FBI that illustrate how much he was purposely maligned by the government for his efforts and ideas to bring about a revolution of the people, grounded in restoring power to Black people and everyone, ultimately.  Collecting a mixture of speeches, interviews, his autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, published essays, and the like, this collection paints a vivid picture of the deeply rooted ideas of Newton and ultimately, the Black Panthers and works as an intellectual history of both as well.  There's a clear consistency and ownership of changing ideas that comes out through these writings that is interesting to see. Newton's ideas from the 1960s-1970s provide a rich tapestry of ideas that we return to time and again in US culture and seem quite ripe within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.  If it were missing anything, I feel like the later works move us a bit further aware of Newton as a person than the earlier works in the book, which makes him a bit more abstract than might be useful.  Additionally, given the many events of his life, an accompanying timeline to better contextualize the pieces would have also helped.

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