Beyoncé slayed at Super Bowl 50. But her Black Panther-themed performance has led to some harsh reactions from many, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and the unidentified folks who may actually ‘boycott’ Bey’s ‘glorification’ of the Black Panthers next week at NFL headquarters in New York.
The backlash proves how deep the impact of the Black Panther Party cuts 50 years since its founding in Oakland.
But Queen Bey is receiving some important support — from the Black Panthers.
The Facebook page of the National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party has posted several items about the performance. William Johnson, who joined the Black Panthers when he was 19, posted the following message on the group’s page:
As an original member of the Black Panther Party I thank Beyonce for her courage to make a statement on National TV. I am sure she understood the backlash that would follow her performance @ the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, so on behalf of The National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party we thank you & salute you.
Johnson told theGrio.com the singer’s performance provides exposure for generations who may not be aware of the organization’s impact.
“It opens the door for us to tell our true history,” he said. “Because most of the youngsters, even a lot of the young activists, by the time, they were born, the Black Panther Party didn’t even exist but a lot of them had free breakfast in their schools. And a lot of them don’t know why. So it’s a chance for us to give them our true history and our legacy.”
Nile Rodgers, producer and co-founder of 70s disco band Chic, tweeted out his appreciation too. Rodgers posted a photo him in his younger days supporting the Panther 21:
Coincidentally, Stanley Nelson’s critically-acclaimed documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, airs on PBS next Tuesday, February 16.
The doc offers a timely overview of the party.
Nelson, who worked on the documentary film for seven years, hopes The Black Panthers will shed light on some elements he finds key in their story.
“You see that the Panthers were very, very young and I think that that’s an important point,” he says. “You see that the Panthers were majority women early on. I think that’s really important. You see that J. Edgar Hoover did set out to destroy the Panthers and was instrumental in their destruction and he documented it so it was very clear.”
The Black Panther Party was founded on October 15, 1966.