"......Sky's the limit!" said a young Black Panther while on the steps of the Alameda County Court House in Oakland, California (1968). He was responding to a question put upon him by a curious filmmaker about what the Panthers and community would do if Huey P. Newton, The Black Panther Party's Minister of Defense wasn't released from prison. Newton had been jailed after being accused of murdering a Policeman on October 28, 1967. Panthers proposing "no limit," anything might-could happen if Newton was not released was a tactic used to provoke awareness in the general public. This same tactic though is what mainstream media turned into a proposition for violence and articulated this misinformation to millions of Americans via television, radio and newspaper.
Curtis J. Austin's exhaustingly thorough and captivating UP AGAINST THE WALL speaks to the subconscious of American history and its 40 some years of fibs and tall tales to dispel the uncountable myths and false accusations about the Black Panther Party. Austin elaborates on the obvious and subtle discriminatory practice many government agencies and just plain red neck mentality that led to the evolution of the Panther Party. Various members from the Party's 16-year history account for the historic accounts in every chapter of this book. One might even consider the missing pieces of a puzzle to be located through the retelling of events by those who were there and those who were there. Writer/activist bell hooks once spoke of the ability to re-consider the word we accept and the one we read in between. This truth manifests itself many times in UP AGAINST THE WALL. The humanity the US Government took away and brutality it created, instilled on people of color is articulated here but this is not an academic reading. No, this is an "autobiographical-biography" of a group, a people, a movement, a Black Panther Party whose radical ideology worked and for this reason it was repressed.
Still, there are more chapters to the history of the Black Panther Party. Their influence in politics, popular culture, drug rehabilitation, public education, social services and video technology are a few that need to be further researched, written about and included in the public education system.
In my conclusion, Curtis J. Austin is a Griot who spent over 10 years researching the history of the Black Panther Party by reaching out to the source. It's rank and file, those who stayed in the trenches, who still remain in the frontlines. The Panther cadre, whose ability to retain process and assess their own historic life and maintain its facts is a humbling experience for anyone who reads this book.
"not everyone can be a revolutionary, but everyone can commit a revolutionary act"
-Fred Hampton Jr.