The Forgotten L.A. Panthers

Director Gregory Everett didn't know his father growing up. But he did know that he had been a Black Panther. Everett would sometimes mention that when he wanted kids to back off on the playground. And they did.

In 2001 Everett reconciled with his father, and began to work in earnest on a film about him and the other members of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party. The result is 41st and Central: The Untold Story of the L.A. Panthers
. A weeklong run of the film begins Friday in Los Angeles, after two oversold screenings at the recent Pan African Fim Festival.

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Director Everett says his film is unique in its focus on Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter, who founded the Southern California Branch of the Panthers. Carter was a leader in the Slausons gang and its spinoff the Slauson Renegades. He spent four years in
prison, where he became a Muslim. He started the Panthers chapter in early 1968. Carter and another Panther were shot dead a year later on the UCLA campus. Soon after, the Southern California Chapter was no more.

Gregory Everett says he began to think about the project when he met former Panther Roland Freeman in the early 1990s. Freeman told him about his mother's scrapbook about the Southern California Chapter. Those materials would be the foundation of the
elements Everett used to bring the Panther story to life.

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Everett went on to interview a number of former Panthers, including his own father Jeffrey Everett, about the Southern California Panthers' founding and philosophy -- especially its commitment to self-defense and weaponry. In this clip, Jeffrey
Everett recalls the August 6, 1969 shoot out at Adams Boulevard and Montclair Avenue where police killed two Panthers.

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Other interviews include eyewitness accounts of the deaths at UCLA, and the December 9, 1969 shoot out with the LAPD's new SWAT unit at Panther headquarters at 41st Street and Central Avenue in Los Angeles. Everett also talks to former LAPD Police Chief
Bernard Parks and members of US, a black nationalist group also prominent in LA at the time.

Everett, who works as a producer for TV One, hopes a television network will broadcast the project, perhaps as a four-part mini-series. It's chock full of historic clips that make it costly to air, so he'll need to extra funding. But he's already seen
the film's broad appeal. A recent panel at the Pan African Film Festival brought together former Panthers, US members, and LAPD brass to discuss -- and enjoy -- the film.
41st and Central: The Untold Story of the L.A. Panthers opens Friday, March 26, 2010 at the Culver Plaza Theatres, 9919 Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles. For more info about the film, click here.

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