Cross-posted from Wine & Bowties.

As Elaine spoke, I tried not to blink. My eyes, welled up with water, were about to burst and I didn’t want her to see a tear stream down my face in the middle of a Q&A. “What the hell you cryin’ for?” She’d probably ask. The moment was real, and I felt it. But I wasn’t the only one.

Last Thursday night, we partnered with our friends at Oakland Surf Club to present a screening of The Black Power Mixtape. After some brief technical difficulties, we screened the film to a beautiful audience of artists, creatives and thinkers. The room was so thick that people were standing, it was a squeeze to even find a place to be. A few moments before the film, we were blessed by Elaine Brown, the former Chair of the Black Panthers and still an activist at heart. With her dynamic voice loaded with purpose, she spoke to us about the 1960s, contextualizing the film through a searing history lesson of race relations in Oakland and abroad.

Playing to a packed house, the captivating film ended to a round of applause from our beautiful crowd. Then Elaine returned. Opening the room up to a round of Q&A, we soon discovered that with Elaine Brown in the room, a Q&A session can quickly turn to an “answer-and-question” session real quick. And that’s what happened.

Speaking to us about her experiences within the Panthers, Elaine dropped the rare wisdom that left a bunch of 20-somethings on the edge of their seats. It was beautiful moment for a lot of reasons. From the diversity of the crowd to the quality of discussion, the inner-generational connection Elaine’s presence brought was tremendous. Highlighting the importance of organizing, putting action to words, and the relevance of the Panthers work today, Elaine talked late into the night to a captivated room.

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This article was originally published on Wine & Bowties, an Oakland-based art and culture publication dedicated to celebrating art and creativity. Keep up with our articles, interviews and events through Instagram, Facebook and our main publications.

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