Black History Month–Bobby Seale

When I was a much younger man I was a political activist, early to mid 70’s, during my travels I got to Oakland, California….I had heard about the work of the Black Panthers and wanted to see how they were pulling off their mini revolution…..about here some will be rolling their eyes but those are the people that have NO ideas what the Panthers were doing other than the propaganda crap that the government and the media was feeding the country.

When we got permission we were introduced to Bobby Seale and a quick hand shake with Huey Newton……we were told that we could walk around and talk to people freely…..I witnessed an amazing co-operative going on with food banks, clinics, pre-school, legal help…I witnessed many programs designed to help the community….I was impressed but the tour was far too short.

I think the people like Bobby Seale do not get the historic coverage they deserve simply because someone did not like their politics.  I will attempt to change that with every opportunity……that is why I am highlighting Bobby Seale here on IST…..

Bobby Seale and Huey Newton founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense at a community center in North Oakland, California, in October 1966, and acknowledged it was a living testament to the Work of Malcolm X. The Black Panthers practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the U.S. government, and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community based programs. The party was one of the first organizations in U.S. history to militantly struggle for ethnic minority and working class emancipation. The Black Panther agenda was the revolutionary establishment of real economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines. The FBI labeled Seale and his colleagues in the Black Panthers as “Public Enemy Number One”.

Robert George Seale was born on October 22, 1936, to a poor African American carpenter and his wife in Dallas, Texas. The Seale family moved to Port Arthur, Texas, and then to San Antonio, Texas, before finally settling in Oakland, California, during World War II. Attributing his failure to make the basketball and football teams to racial prejudice, Seale quit Oakland High School and joined the U.S. Air Force. After three years in the Air Force, Seale was court-martialed and given a bad conduct discharge for disobeying a colonel at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Read more on this unique civil rights activist……

Source: Civil Rights Leaders- Bobby Seale

History does not teach many Americans about “Black Nationalism”……there is more to it than the negative headlines…….whether one agrees with the ideology is of no concern…it still should be taught and understood.

It is a political and social movement prominent in the 1960s and early ’70s in the United States among some African Americans. The movement, which can be traced back to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association of the 1920s, sought to acquire economic power and to infuse among blacks a sense of community and group feeling. Many adherents to black nationalism assumed the eventual creation of a separate black nation by African Americans. As an alternative to being assimilated by the American nation, which is predominantly white, black nationalists sought to maintain and promote their separate identity as a people of black ancestry. With such slogans as “black power” and “black is beautiful,” they also sought to inculcate a sense of pride among blacks.

Time to learn more about the real work people were doing in their communities and Bobby Seale is a fine example.

Do not dismiss what you do not understand.

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20 thoughts on “Black History Month–Bobby Seale

  1. Excellent post, amigo. It’s always a joy when you go historical; i would wager you were a good researcher…

    As an anti-war demonstrator & student at UC Berkeley 1968-72, I marched alongside Panthers on numerous occasions, though never working or playing with them specifically. They were, indeed, a strong unifying force for black Americans, who desperately needed it at the time. Moreover, the greatest number of those I met & knew were much more inclusive than many of their ‘white’ counterparts, such as the SDS and others. Their dedication to the ‘people’ included all people; they just focused on their black brethren who needed the lift in their wings….

    gigoid

  2. You know, maybe this thought is all about my business roots and marketing and promotion, but if you want to promote a grass roots effort it’s good to give some thought as to how you might want to promote it to the world.. develop what image you wish to convey. All too often these initiatives are formed out of some level of anger and angst and then that’s the image that’s conveyed to the world. You said it yourself, chuq….

    “The Black Panthers practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the U.S. government, and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community based programs.”

    Well, hell, man, that might be great in finding support inside the ghettos of the day but all I remember from this bunch was the militancy and the threatening appearance of these guys. Is there any surprise one bit that they scared the crap out of white America back in the day? Add to that image the “race riots” in the major cities at the time.

    It was the late 70’s and I was driving down one of the expressways and took a wrong turn and ended up in one of those neighborhoods you thought rolling up your windows would protect you from. I ended up at a stop light and looked to my right and there was the store front of Black Panther HQ in Chicago. It was closed down and dark and the outside was totally pock-marked with bullet holes because of some police shootout years prior. That might suggest someone inside had been shooting back. So while I totally understand that to understand our future we have to understand our past, nasty as it may be at times… this organization wasn’t as pure and benevolent and a crowning achievement in the black struggle.. Bobby Seale or not. But to recognize it as one of many “growing pains” of the 60’s civil rights movement, I will agree has a place in that history.

    1. Like I said….I was impressed at how they put together the programs for their community…I was not that interested in their politics just what they were doing to help the people around them….the day care and clinics were functioning well and efficiently…chuq

      1. Sometimes the good some organizations do is minimized by their political affirmations and overall public image. Hindsight is always 20/20, but maybe the talent that organized the civic programs should have been allowed to run the organization… and forget the politics. But then again.. if there never was a “Black Panthers” there never would have been “The Grey Panthers”. 🙂

      2. Grey Panthers? I had forgotten about them from the day….many of the programs were the brain child of Seale and Newton among others….I think they let politics get in the way…but that was the time they were in….chuq

  3. I must say I never heard of any of the good works the Panthers did, my narrowly focused world consisted of only the bad press, I’m sorry now to say. This is an enlightening piece chuq. ~~dru~~

    1. dru…I was truly impressed at the programs they put into place…..kinda made me think of the Paris Commune of the 1800’s…..glad you liked it….chuq

  4. I recall the coverage that the Panthers got over here. Pictures of fierce-looking men carrying guns, and advocating separatism for black people using violence if necessary. There was some mention of their community work, but it mainly talked about their ‘violent aims’. It is an important part of your history though, and should be viewed from both sides in the context of those times.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. That is exactly what the government wanted out there….I am working on a piece about black nationalism….being a white guy I need to do some research as to not offend….I will let you know when it is finished….chuq

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