When Eldridge Cleaver, former Black Panther Minister of Information, died in 1998, he received more press attention than many heads of state. Recently released Panther Geronimo Pratt is being courted by Hollywood; a PBS documentary series on the Panthers airs soon. The sixties are over, but the Panthers?the ultimate image of Black Power, radical inspiration, and the excesses of the decade?live on.
Rather than a history of the Party, Rhodes provides a startling and original examination of the Panthers? spectacular media life, and an inquiry into the mediated nature of politics in contemporary America. As media and pop culture latched onto the small, militant community group, the Panthers became adept at exploiting and manipulating this coverage?through pamphlets, buttons, posters, ubiquitous press appearances, and photo ops?pioneering a sophisticated version of mass media activism. Ultimately, the news media participated in the government campaign to eradicate the Panthers, while simultaneously elevating them to a celebrity status that remains long after their demise.
Framing the Black Panthers, written in lucid prose and featuring never-before-published photographs, is a breakthrough reconsideration of a fascinating phenomenon that is sure to receive wide attention.