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A Taste of Power

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Book by Elaine Brown

Originally published


Dragon Ladies: Asian Am, Indigenous Women and Femi, Chicana Feminist Thought, Medicine stories, Women - Culture and Politics

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A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story (Pantheon Books, 1992) is a memoir written by Elaine Brown. The book follows her life from childhood up through her activism with the Black Panther Party. In the early chapters of the book, Brown recalls growing up on York Street in a rough neighborhood of North Philadelphia. Due to her mother's persistence, she is able to attend an experimental elementary school in a nice neighborhood and becomes friends with some Jewish girls. From that point on, Brown describes being a part of two worlds. She'd act "white" while hanging out with her school friends, and "black" when with the girls in her neighborhood.

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At age 19, Brown moves to California, where she has a love affair with Jay Kennedy. She later ends the affair, and through her neighbor begins to meet people involved in the Black Panther Party. Brown describes her experiences in developing a black consciousness, and later, a feminist consciousness. She overcomes sexism in the party as well as her own personal obstacles to be the head of the party from 1974-1977. The book also covers her two runs for councilwoman in Oakland. There is a large amount of writing on friend, lover, and fellow Panther Huey P. Newton, including information on his theory of "revolutionary intercommunalism," in which he foresaw the weakening of the nation-state under the power of the market economy.

A Taste of Power was optioned in January, 2007 by HBO to use in its upcoming six-part series, "The Black Panthers."


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