This post is also available in: French

The photographer rubbed shoulders with the members of the Black Panthers in the late 1960s. He delivers a precise and beautiful vision to discover at Maison Folie Moulins in Lille.

“I was with them,” says Stephen Shames as a warning to those wishing to watch his photographs of the Black-American struggle led by the Black Panthers political party. At the time, Stephen Shames is still a student at the University of Berkeley and will be interested in what is still a small group of about twenty people. For seven years, he will become their photographer and succeed in gaining their friendship so that he can grasp the backstage of this social movement that fights for the recognition of black Americans in the society of the United States.

The party was founded on October 15, 1966 by two men, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The exhibition immediately features their portraits by Stephen Shames as well as those of other personalities who counted in the movement: Eldridge Cleaver, the spokesman, or Angela Davies, another leader of the party who took the particular defense of women and homosexuals. The portraits of Stephen Shames are elegant, benevolent. We immediately feel the complicity of the photographer with his model; complicity that nourishes true, authentic and precious images.

Valuable because the history of the Black Panthers is rather unknown and the movement remains controversial in the minds today. The curators of the exhibition François Cheval and Audrey Hoareau admit that many institutions have refused to host the exhibition with prejudices about the movement, including thinking that the Black Panthers were a violent and anti-white group.

“Even today it’s hard to talk about it,” says the photographer, “for example, television in the United States has never talked about the book I made on the subject.” It will also have, in the late 1960s, suffered many refusals of publishing houses too cautious to the idea of ??showing these images. Images that are essential to understand this movement and in particular the fact that it was not only a protest organization – with its lot of public demonstrations – but a real political party extremely well established in the black-American community and fully to reduce social misery and exclusion. “No child should go to school hungry,” said one of the movement’s founders, Bobby Seale. In fact, the Black Panthers will offer a free breakfast for children in the neighborhoods where they were located.


photographs by Stephen SHAMES

From 29/09/2018 to 06/01/2019
47/49 Rue d’Arras
59000 LILLE

Opening hours : du Mercredi au Dimanche de 14h à 19h