Power to the People

Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale looks back at the history of the movement, accompanied by photography from Seamus Shames

The Black Panthers were the most influential radical political party in the history of the United States. Founded in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale as a reaction to police brutality against black Americans, they suggested armed civilians' patrols to counter the police force. By 1970 they had offices in almost 70 cities.

Socialist and anti-establishment, they quickly became demonised and discredited by the American state; FBI director J. Edgar Hoover declared the party "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country." By 1972, they were mainly restricted to Oakland, California, and in 1982 they dissolved.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the party's founding, Abrams Books is to publish Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers. Combining extensive interviews with Seale with photographs from Stephen Shames, it offers a definite account of the movement.

Shames met Seale in 1967 during an anti-Vietnam protest, and quickly became the key photographic chronicler of the Black Panther party. His book Outside the Dream, which explored the US' child poverty issues, was praised by Jimmy Carter.