Wisconsin Public Television and Madison Public Library are presenting a free preview screening of “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Central Library.

The special guest for the event will be Stanley Nelson, the director of the film. A new revolutionary culture emerged in the turbulent 1960s, and the Black Panther Party was at the vanguard. Weaving together a treasure trove of rare footage with the voices of a diverse group of people who were there, Nelson tells the vibrant story of a pivotal movement that still feels timely in this day and age.

Documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson
Documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson

“Almost 50 years after the founding of the Panthers, we find ourselves at the start of a new movement for justice and equality led, yet again, by young people,” Nelson said. “We didn’t set out to make a film that was about today, but as we began shooting, it became painfully clear that so many things the Panthers were fighting for were things that are still issues today – from police brutality, substandard schools and substandard housing to disenchantment with the political system.”

“The Black Panthers” is the first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. Featuring Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph, and many others, “The Black Panthers” is an essential history and a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America.
“I hope that young people come to see the film and reflect on the Black Panther Party and that they consider the similarities – and differences – between what the Panthers tried to build, and the new movement that is taking shape today,” Nelson said. “I hope this history inspires young people, who may see their own desire for change reflected in the story of the Black Panther Party.”

“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” will be shown Tuesday, February 9 at 6:30 at Central Library, 201 W. Mifflin St. Stanley Nelson will be the special guest.