In New Zealand this week, Maori activists presented ex-Black Panther and current University of California History of Consciousness professor Angela Davis with a copy of a book chronicling their 35-year history, which credits the Black Panthers with inspiring them. According to the Auckland City Harbour News, “The 63-year-old [Davis] was a crusader for social reform for African Americans” and “took time out of her hectic schedule to meet founding members of Auckland’s Polynesian Panthers. The group was formed in Ponsonby in the 1970s by New Zealand-born Polynesians…. About 10 Polynesian Panthers met at Auckland University’s Fale Pasifika on Monday” to give the book to Davis, who ran for US Vice President on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984. “‘She was an inspiration,’ founding Polynesian Panther and university Pacific studies director Melani Anae says. ‘She stood up for women and ethnic minorities.’ … [Anae] describes herself as a ‘good church girl’ before joining and says the group was needed to fight injustices against Maori and Polynesians in Auckland.”
The hagiographizing of the Black Panthers continues apace, with a flood of recent books including Bobby Seale’s Seize the Time and Kathleen Cleaver’s Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party, plus a new opera extolling what its creator calls “the pathos” of their saga, which is “heartrending. And best presented by an orchestra.” Who indeed could forget the pathos of Soul on Ice? In that 1968 classic, Panther Eldridge Cleaver described his rape of white women as “an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law … defiling his women.”
Davis’s ten books include Women, Race, and Class and Women, Culture, and Politics and Are Prisons Obsolete? Along with standing up for women and ethnic minorities, Davis also co-founded of the group Critical Resistance, whose aim is the total eradication of prisons. That should make her quite the warmhearted hero to all rape, armed robbery and murder victims, past and future.