The Black Panthers
The author's father, Paul Coates, was a member of the Black Panther Party. As Coates describes in his book, the Party's original aims concerned self-defense and social justice. Bobby Seale and Huey Newton founded the Party in 1966. Its diverse membership, however, made cohesion difficult and produced geographically clustered varieties of the socialism, counter-culturalism and Black Nationalism for which the Party became known. The Black Panthers frequently clashed with law enforcement: FBI Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO), for example, investigated the group's alleged connections to communism and hate-related violence across the U.S. Many in the Black community felt that the police and government were unfairly targeting the Panthers.
Berkeley Library offers an online collection of Black Panther history and chronology.
Black Classic Press
The author also frequently refers to his father's role as the founder of Black Classic Press, a Baltimore, MD printing and publishing company "devoted to publishing obscure and significant works by and about people of African descent." Paul Coates surrounded his sons with books and reading lists in their formative years and often enlisted them in chores surrounding the fledgling business. In the late 90's well known writer Walter Mosley approached Coates' press about publishing some older unpublished works. Black Classic Press just released its third Walter Mosley title, Tempest Tales, this May.
This article was originally published in June 2008, and has been updated for the
January 2009 paperback release.
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