Black Panther Woman

'When they got rid of brother Martin Luther King they 
had absolutely no reason to do so … he was the one 
man in our race who was trying to teach our people 
to have love, compassion and mercy for what white 
people had done. 
When white America killed Dr King last night she 
declared war on us ...' 
                  -- Stokely Carmichael, who coined 
                     the term 'Black Power', speaks 
                     after the assassination of Martin 
                     Luther King on 4th April 1968.

Publisher’s note:  In January 1972, a Black Panther Party was formed in Brisbane, Australia by Dennis Walker and Sam Watson Jnr.

Dennis Walker, intelligent and articulate son of poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal  (Kath Walker), adopted the thinking and rhetoric of the Black Power movement in the United States and applied it to Australian conditions. At the time the Black Power movement had spread around the world to India, Israel and South Africa.

Inspired by Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Angela Davis, Rap Brown and Huey P Newton, the Australian Black Panthers staged demonstrations outside the Dept. of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) in George Street Brisbane (original footage shows Dennis Walker standing on the roof of a police car outside DAA taunting the police).

The Black Panthers stood up for Murris who were persecuted under the racist Queensland Acts:

We followed Aboriginal defendants through – recording and comparing the sentencing trends so we could show that Aboriginal people were the most over-arrested and over-incarcerated people in the entire Australian community — Sam Watson

Black Panther woman (below) is an important documentary with lessons for all seeking to bring about change in society. The abuse and mistreatment of women described here by Marlene Cummins was not confined to the Black Panthers. Such abuse was practiced by the New Left and should be documented in the same way it has been here, for all to see.

Long after the Black Panthers, after the New Left, after the anti-vietnam war moratoria, the women’s movement became a well organised and important part of the Democratic Rights Movement in Queensland against the Bjelke-Petersen government.

We owe a debt to those women who stood up and especially here to Marlene Cummins for telling her story.

— Ian Curr, November 2015.


[It is a shame about the ads in this doco].

SBS On Demand at


Other Reading
#BlackPantherWoman: Black Power, gender and limits of transnationalism

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