Zendaya: ‘My aunties held Black Panther Party meetings’


Actress Zendaya’s family members used to hold meetings for revolutionary socialist organization the Black Panther Party.

The Black Panther Party or the BPP (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was a socialist organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966, to challenge police brutality in Oakland, California, the San Francisco city where Zendaya was raised.

The Greatest Showman actress, who has earned a reputation for using her voice to address racial and social injustice, shared that activism has always been a part of her family’s make-up, especially having grown up in “the hood”.

“Listen, I was born and raised in Oakland, all my family is from there – multiple generations of Colemans. And they’re not from the Oakland Hills, we are from the hoods of Oakland,” she explained in a cover interview with CR Fashion Book. “It’s something that I’m proud of and I’m lucky to be where I’m from.

“My aunties held Black Panther party meetings in the downstairs basement of our house that I grew up in. You learn so much from those experiences and from those stories,” she added.

The controversial party was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982. Scholars have called the Black Panther Party the most influential black movement organization of the late 1960s, while other commentators described the Party as more criminal than political.

Zendaya, who first rose to fame on Disney Channel show Shake It Up before making her big screen debut as Michelle Jones in Spider-Man: Homecoming, has made it her mission to encourage others to call out injustice. But she admitted that sometimes she experiences doubt over whether or not she is making the right decisions.

“Sometimes, as a young person in this industry, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do the right thing,” she sighed. “I think this is a flaw of mine. I get so afraid to make the wrong decisions, but I have to understand that I’m only 21 years old. I’m not going to always be perfect.”