During the month of February, BRTW ensemble members are selecting personal Black heroes to highlight everyday. These heroes may have spoken the magic words that first made them see their Black beauty, the people who inspired them to become artists, or even the person who taught them how to make proper mixed greens.
Jamal Joseph is a writer, director, producer, poet, educator and activist. Jamal was also a member of the illustrious Black Panther Movement. He is arguably one of the most successful members of the Panthers, one who has endured on and enhanced his legacy in the years after the fall of the movement. A member of the original Panther 21, Jamal was incarcerated for 6 years where he earned two degrees and wrote the first of many books.
Before Jamal fully knew what a Black militant was, he already knew he wanted to be one, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He put in his bid to be a Black Panther hoping to receive guns and ammunition, but, instead received books. Joseph has written many books himself including, his best known memoir entitled, “Panther Baby” which has garnered mass attention and praise. He has also given back to the youth in a pedagogical way. He is currently a full-time professor at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division and founder of the Impact Youth Theatre in Harlem. I personally know members of that theatre company who have nothing but amazing things to say about Joseph and the organization he created. He is the embodiment of a truly evolved being. He started out on a mission to kill a white man, and has ended up becoming a truly inspiration man. One who has done much to transform kids from unaware to conscious.
Here is a brief clip about Jamal Joseph’s path from Panther to Professor: