All Power to the People! examines problems of race, poverty, dissent, and the universal conflict of the haves versus the have nots. U.S. government documents, rare news clips, and interviews with both ex-activists and former FBI/CIA officers provide deep insight into the bloody conflict between political dissent and governmental authority in the U.S. of the 60s and 70s.
The Party struck fear in the hearts of the white capitalist power structure, which feared it as a terrorist group. During the Nixon years, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, with the cooperation of the CIA, used all means at their disposal to infiltrate and derail the Black Power movement. Methods of state repression included assassination, frame-ups, dirty tricks and black propaganda.
Working as a TV cameraman during the 1992 L.A. riots, Lee Lew-Lee became curious about the history of American race relations and the Black Panther Party (founded in Oakland in 1967). His research led to All Power to the People. The film combines archival footage with interviews from ex-CIA officer Philip Agee, journalist/filmmaker Gordon Parks, and former FBI Special Agent Wesley Swearingen to various Panthers and political radicals. The film covers slavery, civil-rights activists and assassinations in the ’60s, and it explores methods used by police, the FBI, and the CIA to divide and destroy the key figures in the Black Panther Party. The film extends beyond the Panther history to more recent times, covering Reagan-Era events, privacy threats from new technologies and the failure of the War Against Drugs.
Witnesses include not only Party veterans and other Black Power pioneers and political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dr. Mutulu Skakur and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, but also “establishment” figures like former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, CIA officer Philip Edward Agee, and retired FBI agents.
Whether or not one is sympathetic to the Black Panthers, the film is an important historic look at the political and racial turmoils of the 1960s and an up-close look at the leading players.