Power Hungry: Women of the Black Panther Party and Freedom Summer and Their Fight to Feed a Movement

Suzanne Cope. Lawrence Hill, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-64160-452-9
NYU writing professor Cope rescues two female activists from obscurity in this intriguing look at the role that food played in the civil rights and Black Power movements. Contending that preparing and serving food provided a crucial means of fostering a sense of community necessary to fight for change, Cope spotlights Cleo Silvers, who cooked for the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast for Children program in New York City, and Aylene Quin, who served meals to Freedom Riders and held secret voter registration meetings at her restaurant in McComb, Miss. Cope draws on the work of historian François Hamlin to explain how both women performed “activist mothering,” finding their power “in roles socially modeled and considered acceptable for them to embrace within society at large,” and weaves in harrowing details of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s crackdown on Black activism (FBI agents destroyed food intended for the Black Panthers’ breakfast program, alleging that there were “drugs or guns hidden among the eggs and grits”) and the reign of terror white supremacists directed against the civil rights movement in the South. Incisive sketches of other female activists, including Fannie Lou Hamer and Afeni Shakur, add depth to Cope’s contention that sexism limited the recognition of women’s contributions to the cause. The result is a worthy tribute to the unsung heroines of the fight for racial equality. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/24/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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