Sophia Dawson, ‘Panther Cubs’, 2011, Richard Beavers Gallery

Series: Celebrated as Freedom Fighters by some and denigrated as cop-killers by the state, sixties era political prisoners were jailed for challenging the prevailing ideas of society and advocating the right to self-defense among people of color. Their goals were outlined in the ten-point platform of the Black Panther Party, which included, among other demands, the right to equal housing, full employment, education, peace, and an immediate end to police brutality—all issues echoed in the historical and current struggles for justice in the United States. Because their ideas resonated with a significant minority of black youth in urban communities across the nation, the Black Panther Party was victim to a coordinated campaign of state-sponsored repression. Through its Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), the FBI collaborated with local police and undercover agents to infiltrate and destabilize the organization and arrest, incarcerate, and murder its leaders. COINTELPRO’s political persecution of the Black Panther Party distorted, criminalized and stigmatized the activism and politics of these black radicals and of the broader Black Power movement.

Signature: Front

Image rights: Sophia Dawson

Panther Cubs is inspired by a documentary by the same name being developed by Ksisay Sadiki. Ksisay is the daughter of Kamau Sadiki, current US held political prisoner currently serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit. Kamau was Assata Shakur's co-defendant and is the father of her child. He won his case back in the 1980's and lived a free life until Assata Shakur was placed on the FBI's most wanted list with a $1,000,000 bounty on her head. Because Kamau did not cooperate with the FBI to bring Assata back from Cuba, he was arrested and charged with a crime from the 1970s. Ksisay's "Panther Cubs" documentary aims to share her story and the story of other Panther children whose parents have similar experiences.

About Sophia Dawson

Jamaican, b. 1981, Brooklyn, NY, United States, based in Brooklyn, NY, United States

Group Shows

Jamaica's National Gallery, 
Kingston, Jamaica,
Jamaica's National Gallery Biennial
Fountain Art Fair, 
New York, NY, United States,
69th Regiment Armory / Rush Arts Gallery
Corridor Gallery, 
Brooklyn, NY, United States,
All Power to the People
Dumbo Arts Center, 
Brooklyn, NY, United States,
New York, NY, United States,
Wet Paint