Skip to comments.Black Panther: We Weren't About Violence; Ex-leader Seale says Party Fought Racism
Posted on 03/17/2007 7:14:44 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
The Black Panthers tried to fight institutional racism with grass-roots action and coalition-building, not violence, said Black Panthers Party co-founder Bobby Seale at a presentation at Edgewood College Thursday night.
Donning a black beret, Seale dismissed the one-dimensional image of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense as a militant group to a crowd that filled up the bleachers and spilled out to the sidelines of the Edgedome. Seale, now 70, has written several books on the Black Panthers and has starred in a barbecue cooking show with his wife.
The Black Panthers "crossed all racial lines," Seale said. The organization was about raising consciousness and being a part of America's "continuing democracy project," he said.
The organization's policy in its early days urged members not to resist arrest, Seale said. He panned the 1995 feature film "Panther," calling it "cheap fiction" because its portrayal perpetuated the Black Panthers' macho, violent image.
Rather, the organization's program was to "capture the imagination of the people," Seale said. The Black Panther Party believed that legislation institutionalized racism, and the goal was to win people to its cause and get them to vote out racist politicians, he said.
At one point, Seale impersonated former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Mimicking Daley's Chicago accent, he quoted the mayor as saying the Black Panthers' agenda was to "shoot and kill white people."
Weapons, he said, were necessary to carry out the organization's original mission to patrol after racist police officers in the San Francisco area, and Seale added that if members were shot at, they'd shoot back.
"Because we had guns, it equalized us," Seale said.
The black berets, black jackets and shiny boots evoked the image of discipline, an essential trait for a group dedicated to policing. They didn't need so-called "blippies" - black hippies who wouldn't take baths, Seale said.
Seale and Huey Newton formed the Black Panther Party in 1967 while attending Merritt College in Oakland, Calif. Seale's social awakening had begun five years before when he joined the Afro-American Association and researched African history.
"It blew my mind," Seale said. "Tarzan doesn't run Africa."
Although Martin Luther King Jr. inspired him, it was the influence of Malcolm X that spurred Seale to action. After Malcolm X was killed in 1965, Seale and Newton began the preliminary planning of the Black Panther Party.
In order to monitor the legislative process, the Black Panthers marched into California's state capitol in 1967, shortly after formally organizing. Brandishing weapons, they entered the capitol and followed incorrect directions, Seale said. The members mistakenly marched onto the floor of the state Assembly instead of the spectators' area. Frightened legislators ducked under their desks, he said. He led the Black Panthers off the floor and apologized. The press coverage that followed established the organization's international notoriety, he said.
Since its inception, the Black Panther Party has focused on community programs, Seale said. The organization began a breakfast program that provided free meals to children and a health care program that offered free sickle cell anemia testing for African Americans.
At its height, the organization had 5,000 members in 49 cities, and by 1968, two-thirds of Black Panther Party members were women, or as Seale put it, "sisters."
Seale denied that the Black Panthers were racist and said the organization welcomed coalitions with groups that understood and supported its cause. One white supporter even formed the ally group the White Panther Party.
Today, the movement must continue to build coalitions, he said. Together, members of congressional minority caucuses number more than 100, he said, adding that a "broad political progressive movement" must evolve to be successful.
"We're not living in the '60s anymore," he said.
Ed Taylor, director of public relations for Edgewood College, said about 500 tickets were sold for the event. The presentation was sponsored by the Bob and Carroll Heideman "Crossing Educational Boundaries" Fund and was a part of the Edgewood College History Club's Distinguished Lecture Series.
I was working in Oakland when this bunch was getting started. They were criminals.
Yeah, and OJ didn't do it.
Watch for a concerted media effort to rehabilitate the image of the Black Panthers - Hillary was a strong supporter of the group during her college years and was a campus activist who demonstrated for them - by the time the whitewash is done, they will come across looking like followers of Ghandi, and she will be a hero who was far ahead of her time.
This is a Stalinist type rewriting of history. The MSM will be sure to jump on board.
Wow. Anyone who reads David Horowitz's book "Destructive Generation" or I suppose the many other accounts of the BP's drug-running and prostitution rings, might feel otherwise.
This is going to be a shock for Betty Van Patten.
Well, I really need a good laugh for the start of my weekend. I was there and they are at the least thugs at worst criminals and degenerates.
You nailed it. The big boys and girls in the MSM are clearing the decks for Hillary. They are going to have to go back and rewrite small parts of the history of the sixties and seventies.
And if it doesn't work, their fall back position is Obama.
Hey they look real peaceful to me....
Why not lie? The DBM sure as hell won't tell the facts... and the pol's are too scared to.
It's possible that this will have unintended consequences. If people start really thinking about the sixties and seventies, they may realize that the hippy baby boomer folks did a lot of damage. And all the media hand-waving about how good those folks were may not be able to hide the reality from the sheeple.
Another history re-write that will probably make it into the books that children are forced to learn.
Too many drugs alters one's perception and memory.
The Media has signed up for the duration of this campaign. They are going to have to be a lot more clever then just forging documents this time. They underestimated the internet in '04. Look for a Stalinist type cleaning up of Hillary's college and years as Bill's wife. They have a big job to do.
You got one dang good crystal ball.
That woman slipped, banged her head against a rock a dozen times, then fell in a river. Any other story is just a neo con fable /sarc
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