Solidarity, Scholarship, and Struggle 

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(Recorded March 2020)

Guest: Robyn C. Spencer

This is our second installment with Robyn Spencer, author of The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (2016) and Angela Davis: Radical Icon (2023). In this episode, Spencer considers the question of solidarity from several angles, discussing her collaborative scholarship and activism, the Black Panthers’ ways of working together and with other movements, and the scholar-activist Angela Y. Davis.

Robyn C. Spencer is a historian who focuses on Black social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. Since she began studying social movements as an undergraduate history major at SUNY Binghamton, Professor Spencer’s inspiration has come from the examples of those who made often incalculable sacrifice to fight injustice, racism, and sexism. Her MA essay, “Contested Terrain: The Mississippi Flood of 1927 and the Struggle to Control Black Labor,” explored the impact of the Mississippi Flood of 1927 on almost 300,000 displaced African Americans; this research was later published in the Journal of Negro History (1994) and featured in the documentary When Weather Changed History (2008). Her book The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (Duke University Press, 2016) was the culmination of years of research on gender and the organizational evolution of the Black Panther Party in Oakland; it was a finalist for the Benjamin Hooks Institute National Book Award and received Honorable Mention for the Letitia Woods Brown Book Prize sponsored by the Association of Black Women’s Historians. She has been awarded a Mellon fellowship at Yale University, a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society, and an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science to support her ongoing research. Her book Angela Davis: Radical Icon was published by Westview Press in 2023, and she is at work on another book project, To Build the World Anew: Black Liberation Politics and the Movement Against the Vietnam War, which explores how and why the anti-imperialist struggle for Vietnamese independence became a rallying point for U.S.-based Black activists who were part of the freedom movement of the 1950s–1970s. Professor Spencer is a committed activist and participates in many community education initiatives aimed at bringing the history of the Black Power movement to community based spaces. In 2016 she served as one of the co-editors of the Radical Teacher special issue on “Teaching Black Lives Matter.” She has contributed essays connecting history to current events to The Washington PostBlack Youth Project BlogVibe MagazineColorlines, and the African American Intellectual History Society. She is an associate professor of history at Lehman College-CUNY and of history, American studies, and women and gender studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.


Clips from “Meet M. Gayle (Asali) Dickson, Black Panther Party Graphic Artist, by Angela LeBlanc-Ernest

Clip from Elaine Brown Reading a Statement by Ericka Huggins (written from Niantic Prison) at the United Front Against Fascism Conference (1969)

Clip from “Historical footage and interviews with Black Panthers” (2017)

Clip from Manning Marable Interview (1983)

Clip from Huey Newton Interview from Jail Cell (1968)

Clip from “Angela Davis – Communism & Black Liberation” (1972)

Clip from “Angela Davis about Revolution and Violence” (1970)

Clip from “Angela Davis: How Does Change Happen?” (2008)

Clip from “Angela Davis, Feminism & Abolition: Theories & Practices for the 21st Century” (2013)

Clip from “Race at Boiling Point: The Fire This Time” (2020)


Intro music: South Pause, “Blaze Out” (via Epidemic Sound)

Crowander, “Humbug”

Crowander, “Suspicious Strings”

Outro Music: Pearce Roswell, “Work Undone” (via Epidemic Sound)

Links for Further Information:

Robyn C. Spencer Website

Robyn C. Spencer, The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland

Robyn C. Spencer on The Revolution Has Come

An Interview with Former Black Panther Lynn French

Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project

Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project Teacher’s Guide and Other Resources

Lessons on Liberated Learning: Oakland Community School | Presented by Black Teacher Project (2020) 

Ericka Huggins, “The Liberation Schools, the Children’s House, the Intercommunal Youth Institute and the Oakland Community School”

Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project, Joan Gray (former BPP Illinois Chapter member), “Love Liberation: 50 Years of the Black Panther Party” (Excerpts)

Emily K. Hobson, Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left (2016)

Patricia Murphy Robinson Resources (@PATarchives)

Patricia Murphy Robinson: A Black Radical Reading List

Celebrating the Life of Patricia Robinson: A Teach-In (2020)

Patricia Murphy Robinson A Revolutionary Black Molecule

Lessons from the Damned: Class Struggle in the Black Community (1973), written by a collaborative including Patricia Murphy Robinson

Featured image by Ivan Radic

Theme: Overlay by Kaira
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