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I have always said that if you want to understand the nature of a thing, you must research its origin. I would venture to say that the iconic freedom fighter and servant of the people Malcolm X was the first “Prison Panther,” although he was not known officially as such. However, when Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 at Merritt College in Oakland, California, the legacy of their hero, OUR HERO, Malcolm X was on their mind.
Black Panther in a nouveaux peacock chair making deals with the CIA! I am like hold up?! Are you out of your mind? This must be a slapstick thrown in to distract and confuse the audience who do not know their history and who probably believe it’s OK to share secrets with the U.S. government. Like Okoyo, the CIA is all about meddling in international affairs that threaten white supremacy and its economic and military dominance. Wakanda has a seat in the U.N. Council.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party by Bunchy Carter in 1968. Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter was the least known of the iconic Black Panther Party leaders in the turbulent late 1960s but was arguably the most legendary as the leader of the L.A. chapter of the Black Panther Party who was murdered in 1969 at the age of 26, only a year after founding the chapter.
My life began in the Jim Crow South, in Houston, Texas. I remember the segregated world I was born into … the separate water fountains, the back of the bus, the going around to the back door of Mr. Fontnoe’s grocery store to buy milk for my mother and grandmother. I recall the segregated section of the movie theaters – and the long, seemingly endless net partitioning the giant sandy beaches, separating the “Colored” folks from the “Whites.” Can you imagine that it once was a reality, a segregated beach!
Steve Bloom, a comrade and veteran activist, asked me several questions regarding my contribution to “Look for Me in the Whirlwind.” The questions delve into aspects of our political struggle against oppression back in the 1960s and ‘70s and are still pressing concerns. My story is closer to what untold numbers of highly motivated 1960s and 1970s “revolutionaries” usually don’t write about or discuss nowadays. I believe I have answered comrade Steve Bloom’s questions.
I went to San Francisco’s 2017 Dr. King Day celebration riding the same wave that hounded every other participant. As I suspected, a tragic election caused crowd levels to swell significantly compared to a year ago. I’d say at least three times the number of 2016 attendees walked in this year’s march. One ugly cloud loomed: the transfer of federal powers – which finally did arrive four days later – had crept oh so dreadfully near.
I’m not shuckin’ and jivin’ for you! --- I’m not gonna be yo’ house nigger! --- NO. --- I will look you in your eye … --- then drink from that water fountain you’re standing by. --- YES! I will. --- I’m the modern day Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Pauli Murray, Lumumba, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz – that’s Malcolm if you ain’t in the know. I’m Elaine Brown, Bobby Seale, Ericka Huggins, Serena and Venus Williams – with the backhand!
Thursday, Nov. 10, Nate Parker visited historic McClymonds High School for a screening of his film, “Birth of a Nation” (2016). His visit and the screening were a part of Supervisor Keith Carsen’s Community Empowerment Forums which, hosted that evening by Elaine Brown, former Black Panther Party chair, are to create spaces for public discourse and problem solving. In this case, the topic was the importance of knowing one’s history.
The 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party Conference, Oct. 20-23, held at the Oakland Museum of California and in Bobby Hutton Grove at deFremery Park, was a huge success. To see the Vanguards of the Revolution saluted in such elegant surroundings at the banquet Saturday evening was certainly a fitting tribute to the legacy their lives concretely represent. Hats off to the committee that organized the conference.
Oct. 12 is the birthday of one of the most talented and promising young men martyred in the massive state repression against the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter. Unlike Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and George Jackson, Carter has almost been forgotten from the history of Africans in America except for diehards. Carter, then 26 (born Oct. 12, 1942), was assassinated on Jan. 17, 1969 in a Campbell Hall classroom at UCLA in Los Angeles.
To those of us who were alive and sentient, the name Huey P. Newton evokes an era of mass resistance, of Black popular protest and of the rise of revolutionary organizations across the land. To those of subsequent eras – youth in their 20s – the name is largely unknown, as is the name of its greatest creation: the Black Panther Party. It is up to the oppressed of every generation to plumb the depths of history and to excavate the ore of understanding, to teach us not what happened yesterday, but to teach us why today is like it is, so that we may learn ideas to change it.
Nelson’s film documents what those who lived through it already know – that the Panthers quickly became a mass movement throughout the country. Their message of unqualified resistance to racism, armed self-defense and anti-capitalist revolutionary politics galvanized the creation of chapters of the Party in nearly every city and state of the U.S. Much has been written by and about the Panthers. But Nelson’s film is the best short introduction to the Party to date.
On July 29, the Oakland City Council surprised observers by postponing a final vote on the West Oakland Specific Plan (WOSP) without setting a new date. WOSP is a massive redevelopment scheme spearheaded by some wealthy investors planning to gentrify the old Oakland Army Base and major portions of West Oakland that are cynically being called Opportunity Sites, and at first reading on July 15, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve it, with only Desley Brooks abstaining.
I was working at Central Headquarters of the Black Panther Party (BPP) when George Jackson was murdered by guards in San Quentin Prison in 1971. George Jackson was one of the leaders of the developing Prison Rights Movement at the time. He helped develop a new consciousness among prisoners based on political education, service to the community and the destruction of the evil capitalist system.
The award winning play, “The Mountaintop,” looks at the everyday divinity of ordinary folks and places Martin King right there with them. His greatness is not a greatness which is inaccessible or isolated. In the Lorraine Motel that night, King listens and even agrees at some point with the young maid, Camae, a Malcolm X radical in an apron.
Shouting “Inside, outside, we’re all on the same side” and “Here comes Oakland,” five full buses and two vans left Oakland to meet up with marchers from as far away as Portland and Seattle who had already arrived at plantation San Quentin for one of the largest anti-slavery rallies in California history.
Students learned many things about African and African American history, ranging from the classical African civilizations of Kemet (ancient Egypt), Songhai and Mali to the Black Arts Movement and the Harlem Renaissance. The African-centered curriculum is designed to encourage youth to read during the summer while building self-esteem and a strong cultural identity.
Inmate beatings by prison guards occur across Georgia following an eight-day peaceful protest to highlight inhumane conditions in the prisons. These protesting prisoners must be silenced because a whole range of corporate interests has found that they can profit from caging human beings.
On or about Dec. 16, Terrance Bryant Dean was severely beaten by guards at Macon State Prison. The Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners' Rights asserts this brutal beating was in retaliation against the multiracial group of prisoners who staged a peaceful protest demanding their human rights.
"Since the start of the Dec. 9 peaceful work stoppage and appeal for reform and respect for human rights, some inmates have been targeted and others have simply disappeared. We are urging the Department of Corrections and Governor-Elect Nathan Deal to act now to halt these unjust practices and treat these men like human beings,” said Ed Dubose, President of the NAACP of Georgia.
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