In remembrance: Kiilu Nyasha

by Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard

It is with great sadness we say good-bye to a truly remarkable revolutionary, Kiilu Nyasha. I first met Kiilu in New Haven, Connecticut, around 1969. She was serving as a coordinator, advocate and cook for the Black Panther Party Breakfast for School Children program there.

Big-Man-and-Kiilu-in-park-2011-by-Carole-Hyams-300x225, In remembrance: Kiilu Nyasha, Culture Currents
Big Man and Kiilu enjoy a day in the park in 2011, the park the people call Lil Bobby Hutton Park, named for the amazing teenager who was the Black Panther Party’s first member and first martyr, murdered by Oakland Police on April 6, 1968, two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King. It’s officially DeFremery Park in West Oakland. – Photo: Carole Hyams

In addition, Kiilu was working as a legal secretary for the law firm of Charles Garry during the Bobby Seale-Ericka Huggins trials. She allowed Panthers, myself included, full use of her home, providing us with the solid base which was so necessary during our struggles for organizing to free Bobby and Ericka.

Some years later, Kiilu moved to California, where she continued to devote her life to the people, the struggle for human rights and freedom for all political prisoners. Although confined to a wheelchair and despite constant life challenges, Kiilu’s spirit, dedication and fierce passion never wavered and she continued the fight armed with her amazing, creative talents for art and writing, also hosting a television program.

After I returned to California in 2005, we would reunite at events frequently and I was happy to be able to appear on one of her TV programs. It was always a joy for me to see her again.

It is with great sadness we say good-bye to a truly remarkable revolutionary, Kiilu Nyasha.

My comrade, Kiilu Nyasha, was an uncompromising, revolutionary force. We will forever miss her courage and strength of character, her determination, her talents and her absolute devotion and love for her comrades and the people. Kiilu Nyasha, rest in peace.


Big Man

Elbert “Big Man” Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party and is an author, lecturer and community activist in Sonoma County. He can be reached at