D’Angelo and Bobby Seale Look Backwards to Move Forwards in Race Relations (Video)

The city of Oakland, California, has served as the geographical genesis for much of African-American political history. As the home of the Black Panther Party, its decades-long presence in the consciousness of many Black Americans is inextricably linked to its contemporary socio-political climate. The city once again leaped into headlines across the country in 2009, when Oscar Grant was killed by police on New Year’s Day. In the years since, the city has rallied against injustices in other places, holding vigils for the pain being felt in Sanford, Florida; Staten Island, New York; Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; and North Charleston, South Carolina, in a sign of solidarity.

As the painful memories of the tragedies which took place in those cities still remain palpable, the country was again rattled by a tragedy in South Carolina, this time resulting in the loss of nine Black lives in Charleston. A week prior, D’Angelo performed in Oakland, where he traced the city’s deep and progressive roots with Bobby Seale, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party. Along with Huey P. Newton, Seale helped to organize what had always been a disenfranchised and powerless demographic, one that birthed the generation to which D’Angelo belongs. The New York Times documented the meeting of the two minds, which resulted in a compassionate and cathartic introspection into the racial climate of this country, not just today but also throughout its history.

With the release of his most politically charged work to date, Black Messiah, D’Angelo has re-emerged from a nearly 15-year hiatus with a yearning to help heal the collective wounds of many Americans and with Mr. Seale’s half-century of political activism, their meeting beautifully captured a moment of profound gravity, but also optimism. You can read their full New York Times feature here and in the video below, you can find a moving visual component to not only their meeting but also to the city of Oakland.

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