NY activists respond to Beyonce tribute to the Panthers

Nayaba Arinde | 2/11/2016, midnight
The only trending issue matching the post-Superbowl 50 “We still support Cam Newton” social media storm is the debate surrounding ...
Dancers from the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Beyonce. Contributed

The only trending issue matching the post-Superbowl 50 “We still support Cam Newton” social media storm is the debate surrounding Beyonce’s big “Formation Show” nod to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

While former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani trips over himself on Fox News slamming the Black empowerment stylings as anti-police, the Black community comes down on both sides, supporting the effort or questioning the delivery.

“The Black Panther Party has always said, ‘We should use our culture as weapon for our liberation,’”

said Zulu Nation King Sadiki “Bro Shep” Ojore Olugbala, NYS Chapter of the Black Panther Party veteran. “Fast forward today as the director for Universal Zulu Nation Community Affairs Department, we pass on that Panther legacy in our own 2016 motto of ‘Continuing 43 years of grassroots community organizing through True Skool Hip-Hop Culture.’ So big ups to Sister Beyonce and her dancers for doing what they do best in order to pay a Black History Month tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party on the world stage known as the Super Bowl.”

“Beyonce’s Black Power presentation was just what the Super Bowl needed,” said Assemblyman Charles Barron. The Brooklyn-based assemblyman, who noted that he “will always a Black Panther in his heart,” told the Amsterdam News, “Now I hope that this translates into a deeper and longer commitment to our movement for liberation. And I hope that other artists follow suit, and not only make political statements in this entertainment industry, but just as Beyonce immediately announced that she was donating water to Flint, Michigan with her #Be Good initiative, I hope that others make efforts to seriously fund the inner cities and our movement to get our people out of poverty and unemployment. Right on Beyonce! Long live the Black Panther Party!”

As images flood the internet and broadcast television, some activists take issue with the presentation.

“I did not like the so-called tribute because it was disrespectful to what the Panthers stood for,” said Caleef Cousar, founder of the New York Chapter of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which is preparing to honor the 15th year of the Feb. 17 transition of their co-founder, Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhammad. “Panthers were about defending the Black community against police and Ku Klux Klan violence against our community. But they also started breakfast and feeding the community programs. They defended our right to defend ourselves, and made it understood that they were not about to allow attacks go unaddressed. This so-called tribute sends a very much watered down revisionist history for this generation. But Beyonce does not have knowledge of self, so there is only so much that we can expect from her."

Cousar, who served under Muhammad, added, “The sisters of the original Black Panther Party were conscious, and they always rolled with self-respect and dignity, they were nothing to take for granted. They were trained, played their position and understood the principles and philosophy of ‘The Movement.’”