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Summary

  • Huey P. Newton endorsed Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 presidential campaign as seen in Netflix’s Shirley.
  • Newton’s life was marked by criminal allegations, including the involuntary manslaughter of a police officer.
  • Newton, first Black Panthers leader, was murdered in 1989 at 47 by Tyrone Robinson, a member of a prison gang.
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Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton was briefly portrayed in the Netflix political biopic Shirley. Newton is shown endorsing Shirley Chisholm’s historic 1972 presidential campaign in the film as she became the first black woman to ever run for President of the United States. Newton is one of many real-life figures portrayed in Shirley’s cast, which also includes depictions of Congresswoman Barbara Lee and prominent attorney Robert C. Gottlieb, both of whom had been early supporters of Chisholm’s trailblazing political efforts.

Newton is portrayed by actor Brad James in Shirley, who is known for his roles in Prisoners (2013), Osiris (2011-2012), The Choice (2016), and Parental Guidance (2012). The real-life Newton was the first official leader of the Black Panthers Party and co-wrote the organization’s ten-point manifesto with co-founder Bobby Seale in 1966. An upcoming series titled The Big Cigar is set to chronicle the life of Huey P. Newton in greater detail, with André Holland, who played Walter Fauntroy in Shirley, set to star as Newton.

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Newton Received Several Allegations Of Violence & Criminal Activity

Newton received several allegations of criminal activity throughout his life. After already serving six months in prison for assault with a deadly weapon, and having been convicted of involuntary manslaughter of a police officer in 1968 before being acquitted, Newton had allegedly become a frequent drug user and was reportedly prone to more violent behavior. In 1974, Newton was suspected of murdering a sex worker named Kathleen Smith in Oakland but was ultimately not convicted.

Newton was arrested two more times in 1974 for assaulting a tailor named Preston Callins and allegedly murdering Smith. He was able to post $80,000 bail before fleeing to Cuba with his girlfriend. He remained in Cuba until 1977 and Elaine Brown took over as the leader of the Black Panthers in his place. He was forced to face trial for both incidents involving Smith and Callins in 1977. A key witness in Smith’s case was allegedly targeted to be killed by the Black Panthers and the trial was dropped.

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What Happened To Robert Gottlieb After Netflix’s Shirley Movie

Robert C. Gottlieb played an integral part in Shirley Chisholm’s historic presidential campaign and has since become a highly sought-after attorney.

Newton Was Murdered In 1989 At The Age Of 47

Regina King as Shirley Chisholm at a press conference in Shirley

Newton was acquitted of the assault on Callins but served 9 months in prison on a possession of illegal firearms charge in 1987. After his release, Newton returned to Oakland, California, where he was murdered by Tyrone Robinson, who began a minimum 32-year prison sentence in 1991. Robinson admitted to the crime and was a member of a prison gang known as the Black Guerrilla Family. As depicted in Shirley, Chisholm did receive a public endorsement from the Black Panthers in 1972.

Shirley 2024 Movie Poster
Shirley (2024)

Shirley is a biographical drama film written and directed by John Ridley and was created for Netflix. The film explores the life and career of political icon Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to reach Congress successfully and continue to aim higher – as high as running for the office of the President of the United States.

Director
John Ridley
Release Date
March 22, 2024
Studio(s)
Participant , Royal Ties Productions
Distributor(s)
Netflix
Writers
John Ridley
Cast
Regina King , Lance Reddick , Lucas Hedges , Brian Stokes Mitchell , Dorian Missick , Amirah Vann , W. Earl Brown , Brad James , Andre Holland
Runtime
117 Minutes

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