Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

The Legacy of the White Panther Party

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Image credit: Ann Arbor District Library

A look inside white radical movements born in the wake of 1967

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Leni Sinclair (left) and Charles Ferrell (right)Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Leni Sinclair (left) and Charles Ferrell (right)


Any number of groups in the late 1960s dreamed of it, a radical reconstruction of society forged in the aftermath of war, riots and social unrest. Following the 1967 rebellion, Detroit became a hotbed of far-left politics, giving birth to the White Panther Party in 1968. White radical artists and activists, in support of the Black Panther Party, convened across Detroit and Ann Arbor to put their own anti-racist stamp on the counterculture movement. 

WPP founding member Leni Sinclair, a 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist, joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to reflect on her time with the party, and the legacy of white radicalism today. 

People are as radical now as ever,” she says. “There’s no one focal point, but we still have to be vigilant against the establishment of a king or any kind of fascism.” 

Charles Ferrell, director of public programs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, also joins the show to discuss a panel the museum is hosting this upcoming Saturday featuring White Panther founders, including Leni Sinclair. It will take place at the Wright from 2-4 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The panel prologs an exhibit and series of events at the museum reflecting on the events of that summer, called “Say it Loud: Art, History, Rebellion.”

Click the audio player above to listen to the full conversation

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


Detroit Journalism Cooperative

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at detroitjournalism.org.

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



Detroit '67: A Reflection

This post is a part of Detroit '67: A Reflection.

WDET is reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots with stories and photos from people in the community who lived through this historic event.

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