Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party Book Celebration
Barnard welcomes Ericka Huggins, photographer Stephen Shames, Angela LeBlanc-Ernest, and former members of the Black Panther Party, Yasmeen Majid and Claudio Chesson-Williams, to Barnard College in celebration of the new book Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party. Our panelists will talk about the diverse and crucial roles women played in the Black Panther Party, followed by a moderated Q&A and book signing. Free and open to the public (in person and online).
RSVP for non-Barnard/Columbia community members and Zoom attendees is required.
Sponsored by Barnard Library and Academic Information Services, The Athena Center, The Barnard Center for Research on Women, Barnard's Africana Studies department, and The Digital Humanities Center.
Ericka Huggins is an educator, Black Panther Party member, former political prisoner, human rights advocate, and poet. For 50 years, Ericka has used her life experiences in service to community. From 1973-1981, she was director of the Black Panther Party’s Oakland Community School. From 1990-2004 Ericka managed HIV/AIDS Volunteer and Education programs. She also supported innovative mindfulness programs for women and youth in schools, jails and prisons. Ericka was professor of Sociology and African American Studies from 2008 through 2015 in the Peralta Community College District. From 2003 to 2011 she was professor of Women and Gender Studies at California State Universities- East Bay and San Francisco. Ericka is a Racial Equity Learning Lab facilitator for WORLD TRUST Educational Services. She curates conversations focused on the individual and collective work of becoming equitable in all areas of our daily lives. Additionally, she facilitates workshops on the benefit of self care in sustaining social change.She is co-author, with Stephen Shames, of the book, Comrade Sisters-Women of the Black Panther Party, published in 2022.
Stephen Shames uses photography to raise awareness of social issues, with a particular focus on child poverty and race. Steve’s photographs are in the permanent collections of 40 major museums, including: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery; Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas, Austin; Metropolitan Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; George Eastman Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Foundation Sindika Dokolo, Angola. Steve is author of 15 monographs including: Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers (Abrams, 2016); Bronx Boys (University of Texas); Outside the Dream, Pursuing the Dream, The Black Panthers (Aperture); Stephen Shames: Une Retrospective (Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneu de Gentilly | Red Eye); Bronx Boys (FotoEvidence e-book); Free Angela, We Are America, I Like You Too, Some People (Quiddity, 2021); Facing Race (Moravian College); Transforming Lives (Star Bright Books); and Free to Grow (Columbia University). He received numerous awards including the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism for Outside the Dream. American Photo named Steve one of the 15 Most Underrated Photographers. PBS named Hine, Wolcott, and Shames as photographers whose work promotes social change. Steve is represented as an art photographer by Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris and Steve Kasher Gallery, New York; and as a photojournalist by Polaris Images, New York.
Angela D. LeBlanc-Ernest is an independent scholar, documentarian, multimedia content creator, oral historian, and community archivist whose projects focus on 20th-century social movement history, gender, education, and culture. She received a Bachelor’s in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University and a MA in History from Stanford University. She has spent her 30+ year career bridging the divide between academic institutions and communities by developing and participating in projects that have public history components and incorporating narrators themselves in the process. Most recently, she was a photographic archival and an oral history consultant for Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party (2022), author of the books companion guide, the Comrade Sisters Women of the Black Panther Party Discussion and Resource Guide, and co-organizer of the Comrade Sisters book tour. Angela is the founding director of The OCS Project LLC, an academic research project that focuses on the Oakland Community School, one of the Black Panther Party’s educational institutions and flagship community programs. She also is the recipient of a 2022-2023 Oral History Association and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her to work on the Oakland Community School Oral History Project.
Claudia Chesson-Williams is a Panther Woman, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother. Chesson-Williams joined the Black Panther Party just before her 18th birthday, ready to be a warrior and fight and die for her people. She spent much of her time in the party working in the New York chapter. Her firm belief that the struggle continues and that the truth must finally be told inspires Chesson-Williams’ service to the community today. Claudia is a member of the Black Panther Commemoration Committee NY and is integrally involved in planning the committee’s 14th annual Black Panther Party Film Festival, the theme for which is "Remembering Our Political Prisoners." She is also a member of the Nationwide Black Panther Alumni, currently led by her fellow BPP sister, Paula Peebles. Claudia worked at Columbia University for 23 years.
Yasmeen Majid was a member of the Corona BPP office, a subsection of the Jamaica Chapter of the Black Panther Party in New York. Majid also is a member of the Black Panther Commemoration Committee and the National Alumni Association of the BPP. As a Panther, Yasmeen was taught to serve the People, body and soul and her work continues to reflect that commitment. She transferred her knowledge from her Party days to work in the community and make a difference; first as a Comptroller for Elmcor, a drug treatment program in her neighborhood of Corona East Elmhurst; then as Controller for Queens Economic Development. Majid created the Financial Department for Allen AME Church, clearing the way for the construction of Allen Cathedral, one of the largest churches in southeastern Queens. Majid retired in 2014 after eighteen years of working for Greenhope Services for Women, one of the most comprehensive programs for women transitioning back home from the prison system , during which time she was the head of their Finance Department, and was the owner representative for the construction of their new state of the arts green building on 119 street and Pleasant Ave. Yasmeen’s commitment has also been to her comrades, raising awareness and release of Panther Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War, some of whom have been imprisoned for more than 40 years.
This event is planned to take place in person (The Milstein Center, room 103, masks required) and online. A link to join via Zoom will be sent to registrants shortly before the event.
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