Bobby Seale, chairman, co-founder and national organizer of the Black Panther Party, is producing a biographical motion picture that will dramatize his life and the tumultuous 1960's and 70's, the era in which the Black Panthers emerged as "the prominent revolutionary civil rights movement of it's time."
Seale and his partner, Stephen Edwards, a filmmaker and former member of the Panthers, have written a screenplay with the title, "Seize the Time, The Eighth Defendant."
"Seize the Time" is also the title of Seale's autobiography, which has sold over one million copies since first published in 1970. A studio executive at Fox Search Light Pictures suggested that Seale and Edwards produce this dramatized feature instead of the more traditional documentary they had originally been working on.
Since the late 1970s, Seale has spoken to hundreds of thousands of students on college campuses worldwide. In his speeches, Seale e relates his personal experiences in a historical period that helped shape today's politics. He talks about the people in the Black Panther Party, their supporters and the various social programs they created; how they prevailed in a world where "they were persecuted and their lives and those of their friends and families were threatened."
The image of Seale chained, gagged and bound to a chair in a Chicago courtroom is one that lives in America's national consciousness. The film will tell the story of how he got there, and how he survived. The story comes straight from Seale's life. It offers insights into United States history and the conflicts and contradictions that reverberate today.
Seale decided to produce his own cinematic life story because of his frustration with the films that have been made about the Black Panthers without his involvement.
"They usually contact me after they have made their film," said Seale, "and often want me to endorse it. I want to do this until I see the final product. It's painful to see the waste of money, resources and talent on film projects that don't convey the complete story of what happened during the days of the Black Panther Party and the sixties protest movement."
Many cinematic depictions of the Black Panther Party leave out the FBI's efforts to terrorize the Panthers through its counter intelligence program. This led to Panther members being legally framed and sometimes even assassinated based on the false testimony of FBI informants.
"There is an entire generation of young people who know nothing about how viciously the FBI attacked us and why," said Seale.
"Even people of my generation don't know that J. Edgar Hoover said the Black Panthers Breakfast for Children program represents the greatest threat to America's national security."
In "Seize The Time; The Eighth Defendant," a cast of actors will play the part of the people who were members and show the changes they created. The film will also highlight situations in which the Panthers prevailed.
"For example, most people don't know that we won 95 percent of our courtroom cases," said Sealing, noting that many social programs today go back to the survival programs of the Black Panther Party.
According to Seale, the struggle for justice for African American and minority youth in the face of police oppression is unfortunately as relevant today as it was when he and Huey P. Newton first took up their rifles and law books to protest police brutality.
(Watch The Video and Learn How To Support The Film: Visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/266927.)