Books by David Hilliard

Released: Jan. 9, 2006

"Vague, conflicted and almost quaint in its socialist pseudo-seriousness."
Rambling take on the life and thoughts of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton, by his former "Chief of Staff." Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 2, 1993

Former Black Panther Party Chief-of-Staff Hilliard—responding to the 1989 death of his childhood friend and Panther founder Huey Newton—looks back at the Party and the world in which its members came of age. Growing up poor in racist Alabama, Hilliard—who, with the aid of Cole (Never Too Young to Die, 1988, etc.), writes his memoir in the present tense—absorbs the prevailing assumption that violence is the norm, but doesn't absorb his family's strong work ethic. Transplanted to Oakland, he becomes an alcohol-abusing teenage father who can't hold a job until the Panthers give him focus and stability. When Hilliard drunkenly shoots at a police car, Bobby Seale—soon to be bound and gagged in a Chicago courtroom, and later to be acquitted on Connecticut murder charges—confirms the author's faith in the Panthers by rebuking his undisciplined behavior. As told here, Hilliard always seems more anxious to learn to use words and ideas than weapons; nonetheless, he eventually spends four years in prison on charges stemming from a 1968 Oakland shooting. (Hilliard reports that, over his protests and on Eldridge Cleaver's orders, Panthers had been cruising in search of a cop to kill.) With little Party support during his trial—and with Newton's paranoia apparently exacerbated by FBI dirty tricks- -Hilliard was expelled from the Panthers while incarcerated. Throughout the text, his memories are supplemented by sometimes overly general reminiscences from black and white associates, and by excerpted FBI materials. Hilliard now advocates AA's 12 Steps, and here he makes a ``fearless moral inventory'' of his early life, his post-Party downward spiral, and Newton's crack addiction. But his account of his Party years, while a valuable document, is less probing—and no substitute for fellow Panther Elaine Brown's A Taste of Power (p. 1288). (Photos—16 pp. b&w—not seen.) Read full book review >