Showdown in Desire

The Black Panthers Take a Stand in New Orleans
Orissa Arend
April 2009

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Paper: $19.95 (978-1-55728-933-9)
Cloth: $29.95 (978-1-55728-896-7)


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Showdown in Desire portrays the Black Panther Party in New Orleans in 1970, a year that included a shootout with the police on Piety Street, the creation of survival programs, and the daylong standoff between the Panthers and the police in the Desire housing development. Through interviews with Malik Rahim, the Panther; Robert H. King, Panther and member of the Angola 3; Larry Preston Williams, the black policeman; Moon Landrieu, the mayor; Henry Faggen, the Desire resident; Robert Glass, the white lawyer; Jerome LeDoux, the black priest; William Barnwell, the white priest; and many others, Orissa Arend tells a nuanced story that unfolds amid guns, tear gas, desperate poverty, oppression, and inflammatory rhetoric to capture the palpable spirit of rebellion, resistance, and revolution of an incendiary summer in New Orleans.

Orissa Arend is a mediator, freelance journalist, and psychotherapist in private practice in New Orleans. She has written for the Louisiana Weekly, the New Orleans Tribune, and the Times-Picayune.

Charles E. Jones is associate professor and founding chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University. He is the editor of Black Panther Party Reconsidered.

Curtis J. Austin is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Black Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party.

“Orissa Arend’s Showdown in Desire is a fascinating story that documents the history of the Black Panther party chapter in New Orleans. The author’s objective, which she accomplishes, is to allow former participants to tell the story of the New Orleans Panthers to provide a more holistic perspective of the party and the issues (racism, police brutality, and poverty) that it combated. In addition, the author tells this story to generate greater awareness of a post-Katrina New Orleans that is still ravaged by the same problems that the Panthers fought forty years ago. One of the standout features of this work is that Arend uses over twenty interviews to help tell the story of the New Orleans Panthers. Arend’s interviews range from former Panthers to high-ranking city officials to police officers (including two who infiltrated the party). Furthermore, the work fills a void in the historiography on the Black Panther party, as very few works examine southern chapters of the party.”
Journal of American History, March 2010

“An illuminating look at the Black Panther Party’s history in New Orleans, the turbulent racial climate of New Orleans in the 1960s, and the founding of the local party, which was committed to challenging discriminatory white political-power structures.”

“An admirably researched manuscript that illuminates an important yet overlooked chapter of African American history in New Orleans.”
—Lance Hill, author of The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement

“Orissa Arend has done her homework . . . she has managed to help disseminate and preserve the legacy of the Black Panther party, more specifically, the New Orleans chapter.”
—Robert H. King, a.k.a Robert King Wilkerson, freed member of the Angola 3 and author of From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King

“Orissa Arend has forced us to see these self-defense militants from every point of view imaginable. Moving, informative, and in places side-splittingly funny, Showdown in Desire restores to Technicolor memory a chapter of civil rights history too often neglected. The book deserves a wide audience.”
—Lawrence N. Powell, Tulane University

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