Panthers celebrate 46th anniversary

by Morris Turner III, former community worker, Black Panther Party

The Sacramento Chapter of the Black Panther Party hosted a gathering of former Panthers from across the country Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. The event, celebrating Black Panther History Month, was co-sponsored by It’s About Time Archives and Underground Books of Sacramento.

The program included book signings and presentations by Elbert “Big Man” Howard, author of “Panther on the Prowl”; Aaron Dixon, author of “My People Are Rising”; Meres Sia Gilbert, author of “Twirl in the Smoke”; and Steve McCuthen, author of “We Were Free for a While.” Black Panther historical archivist Billy X served as moderator for the event.

Although the Black Panther Party ceased activities in 1974, the programs and ideals of the party continue to permeate the social landscape of America. Concepts like free breakfast for children, community centered schools, free health care resources and citizen advisory boards to monitor the police are now intergral to our everyday lives.

Internationally, from Africa to Central America, Panthers have been invited to come and share strategies for addressing the plight of indigenous peoples. Revolutionary artist Emory Douglas has received requests for his work to be displayed throughout North America, Australia and Europe.

Yes, the organization may have transitioned with the times but the benchmarks that were established will stand forever. The following former Panther members can be reached for speaking engagements and educational displays: Elbert “Big Man” Howard, one of the original founding members, at bigman0138@aol.com, and Billy X, Panther historical archivist, at itsabouttime3@juno.com.

Morris Turner III, a former community worker with the Black Panther Party, can be reached at missnpages@comcast.net.