Malik Zulu Shabazz on NatGeo's New Black Panther Party documentary

Recently, the National Geographic Channel aired a documentary titled “Inside the New Black Panthers.”

The documentary provided and overview of the beginnings of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, its fall and subsequent rebirth as the New Black Panther Party brought to prominence by the late Dr. Khallid Abdul Muhammad.

The group is now led by Atty. Malik Zulu Shabazz and evidently their increasingly visible scope of activity and presence has caught the attention of the media.

As is usually the case, the media often portrays a caricature of the Black Liberation Movement, and in my view, the NatGeo documentary lacked a comprehensive treatment of the ideological underpinnings of the movement which includes a firm scriptural and prophetic base extending far beyond simply sloganeering and the so-called “Hate-Whitey” rhetoric which is often over-emphasized.

Here are brief excerpts from an exclusive interview I conducted with Atty. Shabazz. This portion deals specifically with the documentary’s portrayal of the New Black Panther Party.

>>beginning of excerpt<<

Ashahed M. Muhammad (AMM) How did you feel about the portrayal of the New Black Panther Party on the recently aired NatGeo—National Geographic—documentary? Was it a fair and accurate portrayal?

Malik Zulu Shabazz (MZS) I did not like the way the National Geographic special portrayed the New Black Panther Party, but I also remember “The Hate That Hate Produced,”[1] and how that attempted to portray the Nation of Islam; and how it attempted to divide the Nation of Islam from the Civil Rights struggle, that pit one against the other. Ultimately, through the Divine Wisdom of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam took what was a “knock” and made it into a “boost” for the Nation of Islam and the Black Movement.

I was disappointed in the way National Geographic chose to portray us. However, to be self-critical once again, Brother Ashahed, being self-critical, I have trained the leadership and chairpersons of the New Black Panther Party on how to represent and portray our organization in a better light to Black (and) African people, so that we don’t play into the hands of the enemy. We play into the Hands of God, and the ancestors and their plan for our organization.

AMM: I see.

MZS: To be honest, the New Black Panther Party is strong and is growing; and as strong as it is, it is under reform right now and I’m taking specific measures to teach, to train and to guide and to organize the great innovators that we have so that they may be stronger, more well-studied, more effective and better servants of the people. And so we’re planning—and so in doing, we’re planning on taking the “knocks” of the National Geographic special and turning it into a divine boost for the New Black Panther Party. As we look inward to be self-critical and to correct ourselves as we grow stronger in the future.

>>end of excerpt<<

Transcription by Nubian L. Muhammad

More of this interview will soon be made available in a variety of formats. We discussed his 3-hour meeting with Death Row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal as well as the legal challenges faced by the NBPP regarding charges of alleged voter intimidation brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

[1] The 1959 documentary by Mike Wallace which for the very first time provided a public glimpse into the growing Nation of Islam in America led by the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
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