Oakland, CA – In April 2018, the African American Museum & Library at Oakland was awarded a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Recordings at Risk grant to digitize and provide access online to 98 films documenting the Black Panther Party (BPP) and student and union protest movements of the late 1960s and 1970s from the Henry J. Williams Jr. Film Collection.
The films include footage shot by the documentary film collective Newsreel, an organization founded in New York City by a group of radical filmmakers with collectives in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. California Newsreel produced three documentary films on the Black Panther Party, Off the Pig (1968), MayDay (1969), and Repression. The digitized films include outtakes and b-roll footage of:
- MayDay rally – May 1, 1969 protest against police aggression and to free Huey P. Newton. Includes speeches by BPP members Bobby Seale and Kathleen Cleaver, Vietnam War activist and co-founder of the Youth International Party Stew Albert, Black newspaper publisher and politician, Carlton Goodlett, and Newton’s lawyer, Charles Gary.
- Conference for a United Front Against Fascism – The Black Panthers' first national conference on anti-fascism held from July 18 to 21, 1969 at the Oakland Auditorium and DeFremery Park.
- Free Breakfast Program for Children – Footage of the BPP community service program at Sacred Heart Church at Fillmore and Fell Street in San Francisco
The digital collection also includes a significant collection of footage documenting the labor and social protest movements in California and Texas in the 1960s-1970s. These films include:
- Latino Vietnam War protest – Held in East Los Angeles on August 29, 1970 and organized by the National Chicano Moratorium Committee, the protest included as many as 30,000 participants who marched down Whittier Blvd. to Ruben F. Salazar Park.
- United Automobile Workers (U.A.W.) rally in Los Angeles, Calif.
- Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (O.C.A.W.) rally in Martinez, Calif.
- Farah Manufacturing Company Strike – one of the first major labor strikes led by Hispanic women in the U.S.
Several films document the issue of police violence in the African American and Hispanic community.
- Oakland High School student protest – against the killing of 14-year-old Melvin Black who was shot and killed by police in 1979 and is the case that civil rights attorney John Burris credits with launching his career.
- Moody Park Riots – There are four films documenting the murder and uproar following the police murder of Joe Torres Campos, a 23-year-old Hispanic Vietnam Veteran who was beaten and killed by several off-duty Houston police officers.
AAMLO is scheduling weekend events that revolve around some of these film reels in the future.
On April 6th, 20th and 27th, AAMLO is hosting Jazz Classics in Perspective, a three-week drop-in class that looks at the earliest origins of West Coast Jazz and considers the cultural contexts of jazz and blues music.
The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations. The archives include over 160 collections documenting prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations. AAMLO has a unique non-circulating reference library for researchers, students and anyone interested in African American history, in addition to a second-floor museum that regularly hosts traveling and original exhibitions highlighting the art, history and culture of African Americans. Located at 659 14th St., AAMLO is housed in the former Charles S. Greene Library, a historic 1902 Carnegie building.