Today in history… August 22nd, 1989… Black Panthers’ co-founder Huey P. Newton was shot to death in Oakland, CA. He was just 47 years old.
In 1996, A Huey P. Newton Story, a one-man play, was performed amazingly well on stage by Roger Guenveur Smith. In 2001, the play was later made into a made-for-tv film directed by Spike Lee.
The entire film is on YouTube, if you haven’t already seen it (although it’s also on DVD).
As for Huey P. Newton films that are coming down the pike…
Last fall, it was announced that a film based on Newton’s flight to Cuba, courtesy Easy Rider producer Bert Schneider, was being shopped.
The short story goes… Schneider was a pal and supporter of the Black Panthers, even reportedly giving them $10,000 way back when, to help with the organization’s initiatives.
It’s said that Black Panther leader Newton even became quite close to Schneider, some times staying at Schneider’s home for weeks at a time, in the early 1970s.
As reports you can find on the web state, in 1974, Newton, on bail for an assault charge, was accused of killing a 17-year-old prostitute. He jumped bail and hid out with Schneider, who eventually would devise a plan to smuggle Newton out of the country, to Cuba, where he could seek political asylum.
The plan was to sail through the Panama Canal to Mexico, where Newton would be picked up, after Schneider smuggled him across the border.
Well, needless to say, everything didn’t quite go as planned (Newton did return eventually to faced charges).
I’ll refer you to a lengthy Salon.com article, titled True Hollywood story: The producer and the Black Panther, which goes into lots of detail about the relationship between Schneider and Newton, and much more. Read it HERE.
If anything, regardless of where your POV lies, it’s a fascinating read documenting an interesting period in our history.
And thanks to all the excitement and acclaim over Ben Affleck’s Argo, itself based on a somewhat similar explosive mixture of Hollywood and politics, a film based on the above series of events is being developed in Hollywood, with Joshua Bearman, the author of the Wired Magazine article that inspired Ben Affleck’s Argo, penning the script.
But I can hear your arguments already, loud and clear… “Oh great Tambay – another film centered on a black historical figure’s struggles, but as a character in what’s really a white person’s story!”
I know, I know… as noted previously, the plan is to have the story revolve around Schneider. So, feel free to lower your expectations now.
However, it’s not a done deal. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.
In the meantime, embedded below is the 90-minute A Huey P. Newton Story, the one-man play that was performed by Roger Guenveur Smith, that Spike Lee directed: