Judas And The Black Messiah Was a Start — Now, It’s Time To Celebrate the Women of the Black Panther Party
There’s a scene in the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film Judas And The Black Messiah that, even amidst all of its buzz and accolades, I don’t think is getting enough praise. In it, Deborah Johnson, played by the inimitable Dominique Fishback, recites a quiet, stirring poem to her love and father of her unborn child, former chairman of the Black Panther Illinois chapter Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). The poem (which Fishback wrote herself) is about the anxiety of bringing a Black baby into a fraught world full of violence and trauma:
There is a misconception that women had no prominent roles in the Party, that our work was to support the men, and that we did these menial duties. It's not true. Women were leaders in the Party.
The film references a time of resistance that was strong and now, we still have a responsibility and obligation to fight against the same injustices that we experienced back in the '60s.
The relationships you have between men and women, women and women, comrade to comrade, were intense because we didn't know if we were going to live another day.