Just days after I delivered a paper on the mass media's distortion of the Black Panther Party, I read Kate Coleman's effort to discredit a conference on the "Black Panther Party in Historical Perspective" at Wheelock College in Boston ("Just a Pack of Predators," Opinion, June 22). Coleman's piece is a transparent effort to sustain a media distortion that has been around for decades. Namely, that the Panthers were a "bunch of thugs."
Coleman reduces the nationwide Black Panther Party to the actions of Huey Newton and members of his Oakland coterie who engaged in criminal and violent conduct well after the national Panthers went into decline.
What's missing from this picture could -- and does -- fill volumes. Thanks to recent books on the Panthers and to the Wheelock conference, your readers can have access to documented history that refutes Coleman's silliness.
Far from being the whitewash Coleman claims, the conference discussed and debated at great length and in detail all aspects of the Panthers, including their "dark side." Maybe she would have learned something if she had attended.
Edward P. Morgan
Professor, Political Science, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.