Last night, the Sundance-lauded documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, made its network television debut on PBS as part of the network’s Independent Lens series. The two-hour doc – directed by Emmy award winner Stanley Nelson – aimed to give commentary and context to The Black Panther Party, using archived footage, pictures, and interviews of people directly involved in the movement.

The documentary was powerful enough in itself, offering glimpses into the lives of founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale and notable member Fred Hampton (who was murdered at a very early age after being betrayed by a friend); and also exposing viewers to the Panthers’ community programs, purpose, and the concerted efforts of the FBI’s COINTELPRO faction to dismantle the Black Panther Party from the outside and from within.

But what made Vanguard of the Revolution impact viewers even more, was the discussion it sparked on social media. On Twitter, especially, the hashtag #BlackPanthersPBS bore not only commentary about the topics addressed in the film, but generated a continual conversation of education on the social network. Director Nelson himself fielded questions from his own Twitter account, and April Reign served as a moderator in “livetweeting” the documentary with PBS.

If you unfortunately missed the documentary last night, then you’re in luck – PBS has put the documentary up for streaming, fittingly on the day Huey P. Newton himself was born. Check up top to watch Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution documentary for yourself. The documentary can be streamed online now through March 17th; and can be purchased on DVD/Blu-Ray here.

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