Rest in power, Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard, founding father of the Black Panther Party

by Carole Hyams-Howard

This photo is a favorite of Big Man’s wife, Carole. – Photo: Jeff Kan Lee, Sonoma Press Democrat

At 6:13 a.m. on July 23, Big Man joined the ancestors. Above all else, Elbert “Big Man” Howard loved his comrades and all oppressed people, who he never stopped fighting for.

He was the love of my life and I will miss him forever. I am grateful to have been able to have these years with him and happy he (and I) got to spend time with his comrades. I have wonderful memories to cherish and take comfort in knowing that he is at peace.

I guess I am still doing what Big Man would have wanted me to do, posting and sharing all these wonderful, heartfelt messages – condolences, impressions, memories, stories and tributes (copied below). I know he would be so very moved and honored reading them.

The posts which would be the most meaningful to him are the ones from all of you, not the obits in the press. You, sharing your remembrances and feelings about what Big Man meant to each of you – how you experienced him, what you may have learned by knowing him, and how you loved him.

Big Man was able to share both his deep and profound love of music and his determined struggle for human rights for all oppressed people, here, in this county. Thanks to all of you who helped him, encouraged him, were patient with both of us, and loved him.

A huge thank you to those who have been here for both of us through some very painful and difficult times. Know that he so loved being here with all of you and that you gave him gifts every day, each one of you, each in your own way. Thank you so much and peace and love to all of you. Hold your loved ones close.

Big Man’s Celebration of Life

You are invited to celebrate and honor the extraordinary life of Elbert “Big Man” Howard, a founding father of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and first editor of its newspaper, The Black Panther. His Celebration of Live will be on Saturday, Aug. 25, 1 p.m., in the Bobby Hutton Grove inside of DeFremery Park, at 18th and Adeline – 1651 Adeline St. – Oakland, California 94607. Speakers will include Emory Douglas and Kathleen Cleaver.

For more information, contact It’s About Time/BPP at 916-455-0908, It’s About Time/BPP on Facebook or Please send any donations to It’s About Time, P.O. Box 221100, Sacramento, CA 95822 by mail or via GoFundMe at

Big Man posted this photo, taken in Bobby Hutton Park, where his Celebration of Life will take place on Aug. 25, on his Facebook page in April 2018 when Kiilu Nyasha passed with this caption: “It is with great sadness, we say goodbye 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 BPP Breakfast for School Children program there. 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. 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. Love, Big Man” – Photo: Carole Hyams-Howard

Tributes to Big Man

From Bobby Seale

Elbert “Big Man” Howard is one of the original founding members of the Black Panther Party. He was a Black Panther from 1966 to 1974. During that time, he served as Deputy Minister of Information and was a member of the Central Committee and the International Solidarity Committee. Born in Tennessee in 1938, Howard was also the first editor of the Black Panther Party’s newspaper.

As the Black Panther Party grew in numbers, their programs grew in depth. “Big Man” Howard held several positions and worked on many projects.

“Big Man” Howard himself was responsible for a free medical clinic for sickle-cell anemia and a work-study program for parolees at the college. The Black Panther Party also created a free-breakfast program, piqued by poor children’s inability to succeed in school due to malnutrition. This latter operation has actually been the unstated model for generations of government-run breakfast programs.

“Big Man” Howard himself was responsible for a free medical clinic for sickle-cell anemia and a work-study program for parolees at Merritt College. … As the first editor of the Black Panthers’ newspaper, “Big Man” Howard helped build its circulation to 200,000 copies per week. He traveled the world as the Black Panthers’ deputy minister of information. – Bobby Seale

In efforts to appeal to the community and voice their cause, the Black Panthers decided to found a weekly newspaper – and looked for an editor. “Big Man” Howard was the first editor of the Black Panther Party newspaper and Party international spokesperson.

As a Black Panther Party spokesman, he traveled and lectured on the conditions and treatment of African-Americans and other minorities in America. “Big Man” Howard helped build Solidarity Committees in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

As the first editor of the Black Panthers’ newspaper, “Big Man” Howard helped build its circulation to 200,000 copies per week. “Big Man” Howard traveled the world as the Black Panthers’ deputy minister of information and internationally and established a community medical clinic and an educational program for ex-offenders at Merritt College.

All Power to All the People! #blackpantherparty #bobbyseale #elberthoward #blackpanthers #bigmanhoward


The man who could speak truth to power this fearlessly is the man who was largely responsible for the phenomenally fast recovery of the Black Panther Party every time the FBI’s COINTELPRO attacked, murdering 28 Panthers. Big Man carried the message – “All power belongs to the people,” he would say – and the struggle for freedom and justice across the country and around the world, creating new and stronger chapters and alliances everywhere he went. – Photo: Stephen Shames

From Kwazi Nkrumah

Elbert “Big Man” Howard (born Jan. 5, 1938), founding member and leader of the Black Panther Party, has joined the ancestors today!

Big Man spent several years in the United States Air Force in Europe. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Howard moved to Oakland, California. While attending Merritt College, Howard met Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. In 1966, at the age of 28, he became one of the six original founding members of the Black Panther Party. The others were Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, “L’il” Bobby Hutton, Reggie Forte and Sherman Forte.

Big Man was an active member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense from 1966 through 1974. He served as the original Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party and was the original editor and organizer of the Black Panther newspaper. When Eldridge Cleaver joined the BPP, Big Man stepped down as Minister of Information, taking on the title of Deputy Minister of Information.

Big Man represented the Black Panther Party in a number of international settings in Asia and Europe. He headed the defense efforts for BPP Chairman Bobby Seale when Bobby was framed up on false murder conspiracy charges in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1969.

Big Man headed the defense efforts for BPP Chairman Bobby Seale when Bobby was framed up on false murder conspiracy charges in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1969. In 1970, Big Man took on the effort to rebuild Black Panther chapters in every region of the country in the wake of violent attacks by police and the FBI … In 1971, Big Man joined Bobby Seale in efforts to negotiate on behalf of the prison inmates who had seized control of Attica State Prison, New York. – Kwazi Nkrumah

In 1970, Big Man took on the effort to rebuild Black Panther chapters in every region of the country in the wake of violent attacks by police and the FBI, which had left 28 members dead and many imprisoned on false charges. These raids, jailings and killings were part of the COINTELPRO assault on the entire Black freedom movement in the United States.

In 1971, Big Man joined Bobby Seale in efforts to negotiate on behalf of the prison inmates who had seized control of Attica State Prison, New York, in that historic uprising against the inhuman conditions that prevail throughout the U.S. prison systems.

After leaving the party in 1974, Big Man Howard returned to Tennessee. In Memphis, he served on the boards of directors of several African American progressive educational institutions.

In 2001, Howard self-published his memoir, “Panther on the Prowl,” covering the rise and fall of the Black Panthers. In 2003, he was a coordinator for the All of Us or None Ex-Offender Program and also was a member of the Millions for Reparations committee.

Big Man married Carole Hyams in 2007. They have lived in Sonoma County, California, for some years. He was a founder of the Police Accountability Clinic & Helpline of Sonoma County and a board member of KWTF, a community radio station. As a lifelong lover of America’s original musical art form, Jazz, he hosted jazz and blues programs at several radio stations.

The Smithsonian Institute and the National African-American Museum recently produced a documentary interview with Big Man on DVD, which has not yet been released. A major article on his life is scheduled to be published in an East Coast magazine in August.


From Aaron Dixon

Aaron Dixon headed the Panthers in Seattle. – Photo: Carole Hyams-Howard

I heard the news today, that Big Man, Elbert Howard, had passed away. A part of me felt relief and a bit of happiness for him that he could now rest and softly transition to the other world.

Many of us had thought that he would have departed over 10 years ago. But an angel named Carole came along and nursed him back to health and, with a renewed energy, he became a jazz DJ on the Late Night Show. He wrote articles for the local newspaper, continuing the fight for social justice just as he had done back in the day as the Deputy Minister of Information.

Then he organized the 47th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party celebration in Santa Rosa, which was a phenomenal three-day event. I remember how exhausted he was after it was over. It took a lot out of him and his health began to decline again.

Big Man organized the 47th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party celebration in Santa Rosa, which was a phenomenal three-day event.

Last year, I sought him out for an interview for a project that I was working on. Carole did not know if he could or would be able to do the interview.

Big Man is a hero who left a priceless legacy, but he was not a man who dwelt in the past. Look at his enthusiasm as he stands with a young man, Damion Square, probably about the age Big Man was when he joined the Black Panther Party. Big Man is a hero for the future, and it is our obligation to introduce his courage, brilliance and wisdom to our youth. – Photo: Carole Hyams-Howard

Just as I was in town, Carole called me and said he wanted to talk with me. I was elated as well as relieved. I knew he did not have much time left. I waited as he prepared to come out.

When he did, he sat in his chair with the air of an old warrior carrying memories of one of the grandest and most powerful times for our people. The interview went well, but I could tell he was not doing well. I knew this may be my last time laying eyes on him.

As a fellow Capricorn, we both had similar ways. We also share the stubbornness of a Capricorn. When I heard of his passing, I was dealing with my own health issues, as many of us old soldiers are.

Well, Big Man is free now. He is free to move on into the sunlight with his big smile looking down upon us. Free from the long years of suffering.

So long, Big Man! Soon many of us will join you in the dust of eternity. Maybe we will all come back together again for one last try. One more ride to save humanity.

With undying love, Aaron.


From Elmer Dixon

A tribute to our comrade Elbert “Big Man Howard,” a co-founder and original member of the Black Panther Party who transitioned to the ancestors on Monday:

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

Carole Hyams-Howard took this picture of Big Man speaking at The Lamppost in Oakland in 1969. They went separate ways and reunited 37 years later.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

– Maya Angelou


From Tolbert Small

Like George Jackson, Fred Hampton, Doc Satchel and Bobby Seale, Big Man was a real Panther. He was the real deal. He was not a paper panther, crazy panther or gangster panther.

This is a page from Jet Magazine of May 21, 1970.

His towering spirit of resistance will always be with us. In the spirit of Crazy Horse, our struggle continues. Big Man’s spirit will fight on through us.


From Charlotte Hill O’Neal

It is with great regret that we announce the passing of another icon of the Black Panther Party, Brother Elbert “Big Man” Howard. He was one of the first founding members and he was a good community servant for decades. May Big Man rest in peace in the Realm of the Ancestors and may we honor him with our own continuing good works! May all who knew him be comforted by the good memories!


From Bill Jennings

Elbert Big Man Howard. my comrade friend, mentor, passed away today. His legacy will live on. An Original member of the Black Panther Party.

Carole’s comment: BJ is responsible for helping Big Man reclaim his legacy before he came back to California and after. He was truly his “best man” at our wedding and in our lives. Their friendship and the history they share was so deep that I cannot really do it justice here.


From Steve Long

I still am in a sad state. A man I have looked up to for over 40 years is no longer among us.

I first met Big Man, as he was known, in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1970. I was a naive, enthusiastic teenager from the projects of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, assigned to the New Haven branch of the Black Panther Party to help free Bobby Seale, Ericka Huggins and the New Haven Panthers.

It was a scary situation, meeting the people I had only read about, from the West Coast origin of the Party. Many of us were barely out of high school, and Big Man and a few others were already grown men. He, along with Robert Bey, exuded the confidence and power of free Black men.

Big Man, along with Robert Bey, exuded the confidence and power of free Black men.

Big Man was the first editor of the Black Panther newspaper, the international spokesman of the Party, traveling all over the world bringing the message of the oppressed people of America, forging alliances with many sympathetic to the cause of liberation.

A powerful man with the quiet confidence and peace not known to many.

Through the many posts, many can tell he was a well loved and dedicated servant of the people who will truly be missed.

The late James “Bubber” Young, Elbert “Big Man” Howard and Steve Long get together at Big Man and Carole’s home shortly before BPP 50th Anniversary commemoration in October 2016. – Photo: Carole Hyams-Howard

One picture I will cherish always is a picture of the late James “Bubber” Young, Big Man and myself. This picture was taken at Big Man and Carole’s home in Santa Rosa, California, in the lead up to the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party.

He, Big Man, was one of the Original 6!

Maximum Respect and Love!


From Joan Tarika Lewis

I am deeply saddened to hear of Big Man’s passing … a gentleman and a heart bursting with love for Liberation and our people. Rest in Peace. Thank you for Serving Humanity.


From JR Valrey

RIP Black Panther elder Elbert Howard! A giant among men. Rest easy.


From Ericka Huggins

My friend, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, passed on today after a long illness. I was honored to know and love him over the years, and he’ll always hold a special place in my heart. Blessings on your journey, my friend.


From Clarence ‘Stretch’ Peterson

To Black Panthers everywhere: Elbert Howard, our Big Man, has passed onto the ancestors. He was a tireless fighter for the people, whom he loved. He always strove to bring people together.

But we who are left behind will rejoice in his legacy of dedicated service to the people. Our Big Man will be remembered for his strong, stern yet gentle demeanor around all the young Panthers he came into contact with. Guidance was his way of making a Panther out of you.

Our thoughts and love go out to Carole, his wife and the family.


– National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party

Big Man holds a news conference in Philadelphia on Sept. 7, 1970, with Afeni Shakur, mother of Tupac and a Black Panther, and BPP Minister of Education Ray “Masai” Hewitt.


From Skip Shockley

Big Man, I will and we will always love you.

– Dallas Chapter Alumni


From Steve McCutchen

Big Man. He cast a giant shadow. Truly, an ox for the people to ride.


From Stephen Shames

Elbert Big Man Howard passed away today. Big Man was the heart of the Panthers and a warrior for justice. I had the honor of being his friend and I will miss him. His legacy will continue to inspire all of us.


From Henry L. Wallace

In this iconic Black Panther Party photo, Panthers drill at a Free Huey Rally in Lil Bobby Hutton (DeFremery) Park in West Oakland in July 1968. Big Man, a military veteran who taught other Panthers how to handle guns, is on the right. Here, in what’s now called the Bobby Hutton Grove in DeFremery Park at 18th and Adeline, Oakland, is where Big Man’s Aug. 25 Celebration of Life will be held. Panthers and supporters have called on Oakland to rename the entire park, central to many Panther activities, for Lil Bobby Hutton the party’s first martyr and first and youngest member, assassinated by Oakland police at age 17 on April 6, 1968, two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Recently, after 50 years, the city took the first step by naming the grove of trees in the park for Hutton. – Photo: Pirkle Jones

My prayers go out to the family of one of the strongest Comrades that I had the privilege of knowing. Elbert Howard (Big Man), one of the original founders of the Original Black Panther Party for Self Defense, passed away. He’s the brother on the far right side of this picture. As he would say, “ALL THE POWER BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE!”


From Rickey Vincent

There are OG’s and there are OG’s. Elbert “Big Man” Howard was an original member of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. He drove the cars in some of the first police patrols, and traveled the world as a trusted international spokesperson for the BPP. Meeting him changed my life and the direction of my work. Mourning the loss of this great man that passed away today.


From Min Stretch Sanders

Rest in Power, Big Man. You were a legend, and your legacy will live on.

Thank you for serving the people Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. All Power to the People!

God bless the family.

Kathleen Cleaver, now a law professor, poses with Big Man and Angela Davis. Kathleen is coming to speak at Big Man’s Celebration of Life on Aug. 25.


From Baba Zayid

Elbert “Big Man” Howard passes at 80! He was one of the “Original 6,” one of the six founding members of the Black Panther Party!

First deputy Minister of Information, editor of the Black Panther newspaper, top international diplomat, organizer and people’s soldier. Devoted to his last breath!

On the gallant wings of his giant heart, “Big Man” has left us for “The Land of the Ancestors”!


From Jonathan Melrod

RIP Comrade Big Man, co-founder of the Black Panther Party and editor of the Party paper. I am so proud and honored to have become your friend and comrade after you moved to Sonoma County and joined the local struggle for justice.

I sold the Panther paper on the street corners of Madison, Wisconsin, some 45 years before we met. You and your fellow Panthers are a continuing inspiration for all of us who strive for a better world – and in your death, we salute your courage and dedication to the people.

I can’t tell you how many days I sold the Panther paper on the street corners of Madison, Wisconsin, some 45 years before we met. You and your fellow Panthers are a continuing inspiration for all of us who strive for a better world – and in your death, we salute your courage and dedication to the people. RIP!


From Tory Ware

#Black #Panthers paid the cost. These guys paid the ultimate sacrifices.

I’ve listened to the elders and I’ve watched the elders. They would always make it so clear how they will fight for freedom for all people – in particular, Black people and for political prisoners who’ve been railroaded through the courts.

The caption for this photo, taken in October 2006, on Dr. Tolbert Small’s website reads: “Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard, the fourth person to join the Black Panthers, presents Dr. Small with a newspaper article about him from the Memphis Tri-State Defender at the BPP 40th reunion. From left: Howard; Bert Small; Emory Douglas, former BPP Minister of Culture.” Emory and Kathleen Cleaver will be speaking at Big Man’s Celebration of Life on Aug. 25.

“Won’t stop till my heart stops,” they would say till their last breath. Young folk, write, lend hands, send money and do whatever you can to help anyone who has paid the ultimate sacrifices. These are y’all’s duties on Earth as well.

These guys are my friends. They are my elders. My joy. My earthly foundation. Panthers in Peace: Elbert “Big Man” Howard and Richard Brown. One Love!


From Susan Shireen Kanga

Thank you for sharing these beautiful words, Carole. Evan, Lucia and I are honored to have known Big Man and very glad for the good times we’ve all shared over the years. Our condolences to you, Tynisa, Jaylen, Amin and all your family. We grieve Big Man’s passing but know his spirit will soar, just as it did during his lifetime.


From Cyril Innis Jr.

Sister Carole, thank you for those words of love and respect. You and the family have an extended family here with Panthers here in New York, as I stated earlier. Big Man was a True Revolutionary Warrior and Servant of the People and will always be with all of us who are real to the struggle for Liberation and Freedom.


From Stephen Gross

It was a privilege and an honor getting to know you both and I was thrilled that the interviews and story we did for the Press Democrat allowed me to nose into Big Man’s history and learn about where his heart and spirit were at – and how honest and caring he was. I loved whenever he asked me to fill in for him when he couldn’t be there to do his KGGV radio show – he said we had similar tastes. I feel honored to have been touched by him.


From Robert Edmonds

Elbert “Big Man” Howard

Elbert Howard, you will be missed in this world by so many, and by me. I’m so sorry I didn’t come to visit you like I had intended these past couple of months.

When I first got the opportunity to meet you 11 years ago, I was so starstruck and in awe of this amazing person who had founded the BPP and was doing revolutionary work in the community two years before I was even born. I didn’t know what to expect or feel like I was worthy of sitting at the table with such a social justice giant to work on issues of police brutality in our community.

You and Carole Hyams both made me recognize how important it was to be at that table – and to keep showing up in the street to do the work. You both continued to show up at all the things we worked at for as long as was possible.

As I had the opportunity to work with you over the years, I understood so many things by your example. You often had an economy of words, quietly taking in the conversations, weighing the arguments, then dispensing with the official bullshit narratives with incisive and often blistering commentary on the way things needed to be, and what was really going on in this world.

From you, more than any other, I learned that there is a time for quiet, kind, good-natured countenance, but there is also a time to fiercely gnash teeth and lay bare the truth, come what may. If someone does not take the risk, then neither will the next.

Passive indifference is a learned behavior, just as much as revolutionary practice. There are too many teaching the former, and so few examples from which to learn the latter.

You were a true example of what it means to resist, to revolt and to lead with quiet, consistent strength and humility.

You were a true example of what it means to resist, to revolt and to lead with quiet, consistent strength and humility. Thank you for always supporting your community and for the support you showed me in the work I’ve been involved in over the years, much of which was modeled after the work you did with the BPP. It has truly been an honor to learn from such a great man. Rest in power, Big Man.


An invitation came from Japan for Panthers to come discuss forming a Solidarity Committee. Big Man and Roberta Alexander responded and were welcomed warmly in Japan.
Professors Darius Spearman and Roberta Alexander of Pillars of the Community welcome Big Man to San Diego in June 2015. – Photo: Carole Hyams-Howard

From Roberta Alexander

After a long illness, Big Man (Elbert Howard) passed away in Santa Rosa on Monday morning, July 23. Born in Tennessee in 1938, he dedicated most of his life to the struggle for justice for the African American community.

He was one of the six founding members of the Black Panther Party. He never sought the spotlight; rather he was the man who took care of essential Panther projects. He served as the editor of the newspaper, the minister of information, and the central strategist for community programs such as massive food distributions.

He travelled, representing the Party, to Japan and Europe. After retiring and moving to Santa Rosa, he organized against police brutality against Latinos. In the summer of 2015, Big Man came to San Diego to meet with community members. He was enthusiastic about the work of Pillars of the Community, and when asked what advice he would give to young activists today, he answered, “Organize.”

Pillars would also like to give a shout out to Carole Hyams, the incredibly strong sister who supported Big Man in every way for so many years. They were a powerful couple, and with Carole’s support, he was able to realize many of his projects and organizing efforts.


From Desiree Poindexter

With a heavy heart, we honor our dear friend and hero, the amazing and kind Elbert Howard who passed away yesterday. Elbert “Big Man” Howard was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party and involved in so many amazing community projects throughout his life.

I was lucky enough to call him a friend and work with him on several community projects, including as a co-founder of local community radio station KWTF Sonoma County. A true community activist, inspiration, hero and friend, he taught me a lot about community and the importance of community activism and participation.

You are with us always, Big Man. My love and hugs go out to his family and friends. We love you, Big Man.

Big Man is at the controls hosting his show, Jazz Connections, on KRCB-FM in Rohnert Park. He played jazz on several stations, eventually helping to found KWTF Sonoma County. – Photo: Gabe Meline


From Caitlin Childs

Really hard to know what to say right now when words feel inadequate to really share what an incredible human the world lost today. Elbert Howard was one of my personal heroes, along with being my friend.

He was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party and had an amazing message to share of how communities can pitch in to take care of one another. And a few years ago, he co-founded KWTF Sonoma County with our friends.

I loved having a chance to get to know him better. My heart goes out to his family and everyone who loved him.


From Jørgen Johannes Dalitz Dragsdahl

For many people in Scandinavia, Big Man will be remembered as the international face of BPP, because he in the early ‘70s stayed here in Denmark for many months – organizing solidarity activities, speaking etc. I am so happy two of my daughters met my old friend at the 2016 reunion. We will remember him as a warm and strong human being, and we also send you, Carole, our best wishes.


From Stan Mckinney

These are the “Original 6,” the founding fathers of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense: Elbert “Big Man” Howard, Huey P. Newton, Sherman Forte, Bobby Seale, Reggie Forte and Lil Bobby Hutton.

Big Man is standing right of co-founder of the Black Panther Party Minister Huey P. Newton. Big Man was one of the original founding members and a leading member of the party’s leadership Central Committee, a great soldier and servant of the people.


From Rashad Byrdsong

Bro. Big Man Howard made transition and is with the ancestors. An original Panther who had a national and international presence.

May Allah grant him paradise!

Rest in power, comrade!


From Dave Stroud

R.I.P. Big Man. An inspiration to many for his commitment, participation and leadership through action. I was lucky to have known him. A kind, gentle, but firm gentleman who could hold court with only a few words. My heart goes out to you, Carole.


From JoNina Abron-Ervin

R.I.P., Comrade “Big Man.” All Power to the People!


From Matthew Izen

With a heavy heart, we say goodbye to Elbert “Big Man” Howard. A leader, an inspiration and an unflinching advocate for marginalized communities. I’m thankful for your willingness to put up with a random white boy from the suburbs hounding you about music and making t-shirts. Here is Big Man, pictured on the front of the Bohemian, wearing a shirt I helped design and print. Rest in power, Big Man. The fight for equality continues and your legacy lives on.”


From Michael Hale

Rest in Power, Big Man Elbert Howard, one of the original Black Panther leaders. I consider myself extremely lucky to have met you and Carole shortly after I moved to Santa Rosa. Like the Panthers’ overall leadership style, I was always impressed by your kindness, your generosity and your ability to cut through the nonsense in a political conversation with sharp, plainly spoken analysis. You will be missed, but not forgotten.

Big Man’s daughter and cousin

From Tynisa Wilson

Today I lost someone so special, so great – my daddy, Elbert Howard. May you rest in power! Words alone cannot express how much you will be missed. Thank you for all you have sacrificed to make the world a better place for us as a race. I will forever be grateful. Love you, Big Man!

I want to take this time to thank everyone for their condolences and for honoring my father by sharing his story and praising his greatness. Elbert Howard has done so much for his community and for his people, but for me he made his presence known and taught me that education is the only thing nobody can’t take from you and it’s your most lethal weapon.

He also taught me to follow my heart and for every problem there is a solution; you just have to organize and execute fearlessly. Words alone cannot express how much he will be missed. He was my hero. R.I.P., Daddy.

Big Man proudly embraces his daughter Tynisa and grandsons Amin and Jaylen in a photo taken in 2015. – Photo: Carole Hyams-Howard


From Tammi Moore Miller

My cousin, a quiet man, who lived his life with passion for people and a great love of music and family, has joined the ancestors. My heart was saddened for the loss.

However, my spirit is overjoyed with love, honor and respect for the man who lived a life that illustrated to the world that each of us has the power to impact change. He spent his life fighting for the people … all over the world. He encouraged me to believe that I could make a difference and change my world by holding steadfast to my values.

As the family, community, nation and world recognize the contributions of Elbert Howard and one of his favorite sayings “All Power to the People”… remember, we are those People and the Power is ours!

We all have the opportunity to speak and act when we see that change must come. As the family, community, nation and world recognize the contributions of Elbert Howard and one of his favorite sayings “All Power to the People”… remember, we are those People and the Power is ours!

Big Man in the mainstream media

Black Panther Party Deputy Minister of Information Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard holds a sidewalk news conference in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 27, 1970. This is the photo chosen by the New York Times and the Associated Press for their obituaries. Paul Coates, owner of Black Classic Press and father of Ta-Nehisi Coates, describes it this way on Big Man’s Facebook page: “Big man in DC. I think this in front of or a little down from the Headquarters where people were moved for this press conference on the Constitutional Convention. If you were there, please correct me. That’s my memory. I had to post because of Big Man and all the others that this photo captures: Robert Bey, Robert Webb, Audrey Jones, Micheal Torrance, and I’m pretty sure that’s Jim Williams in the background and so many others.” – Photo: Charles W. Harrity, AP

Associated Press: This story was published in The San Francisco Chronicle; The San Jose Mercury News; The Washington Post; The Scotsman, Scotland’s National Newspaper; The Los Angeles Times; The Press Herald of Portland, Maine; The Sunday Herald of Scotland; The Province of British Columbia; The Arizona Daily Star and more. A quote from the story that has now been enjoyed around the world reads: “He (Big Man) was a beloved member (of the Black Panther Party),” (Billy X) Jennings said. “People might have had different grudges against Bobby (Seale) or Eldridge (Cleaver), but nobody got a grudge against Big Man.”

A quote from the Associated Press obituary that has now been enjoyed around the world reads: “He (Big Man) was a beloved member (of the Black Panther Party),” (Billy X) Jennings said. “People might have had different grudges against Bobby (Seale) or Eldridge (Cleaver), but nobody got a grudge against Big Man.”

New York Times:

Democracy Now:

Santa Rosa Press Democrat:; also, a reprint of a December 2012 Press Democrat tribute to Big Man with some little known information that is no longer available on their site:

This photo of the same news conference shows how many reporters Big Man could attract on a moment’s notice. The original BPP minister of education, he had become “deputy” to Eldridge Cleaver, but when Cleaver was forced into exile, Big Man resumed the role of principle party spokesperson. That day, Nov. 27, 1970, was the opening day for the Black Panther Party Revolutionary People’s Convention in Philadelphia that has been called one of the most significant events of the Black Power period. – Photo: Stephen Shames



People’s World:

Stuttgarter-Zeitung, Germany:


MinuteNews of France:


Big Man’s journalism

On the Bay View’s first Black Media Appreciation Night on Nov. 26, 2012, a highlight of the night was Big Man’s acceptance of the Black Resistance Media Legacy Award on behalf of The Black Panther newspaper; he was its founding editor. – Photo: Bill Jennings, It’s About Time

A compilation of his stories published by the Sonoma County Gazette:

Article on Big Man’s radio career playing his favorite jazz:

Stories by and about Big Man published by the Bay View:

Big Man played a major role in the struggle for justice for Andy Lopez, helping to form a strong Black-Brown coalition led by Latino students. Andy was murdered at the age of only 13 by a sheriff’s deputy in Santa Rosa who saw Andy walking to a friend’s house carrying a toy gun that other witnesses said was obviously a toy. – Photo: Susanna Lamaina

A message to us from Big Man

“Settle and forget petty arguments that provide no answers or positive steps toward solutions. There may not be any easy answers. To move forward takes trust, a willingness to listen and open mindedness.” – Big Man, Aug. 13, 2017

Big Man’s loving and beloved wife, now widow, Carole Hyams-Howard, can be reached at

Elbert Big Man Howard Oral History)

Elbert “Big Man” Howard at 47th Black Panther Reunion: Closing remarks made by Elbert “Big Man” Howard at the end of the 47th reunion of the Black Panther Party, Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct 19, 2013

Elbert “Big Man” Howard Speech for Martin Luther King Jr Day 2012)

How the Black Panthers Revolutionized Healthcare in the U.S.: The Black Panther Party is still in the news; this is Al Jazeera with a story about the Panthers’ revolutionary health care innovations. Big Man founded a free medical clinic for deadly sickle-cell anemia, a terrible disease ignored by mainstream medicine that afflicts mainly Black people.