Bobby Seale: The story of a Black Panther then and now

Bobby Seale: The story of a Black Panther then and now
Civil rights activist Bobby Seale. Photo by Charles Barry
by Santa Clara Magazine |
Stories and a Q&A session with the 1960s civil rights activist and founding member of the Black Panther Party

What’s wrong with free breakfasts for kids? Plenty, would be the answer if you asked that question in 1969 of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover—at least if the free breakfast was coming from the Black Panthers. On Nov. 1, a man whose name is synonymous with the Panthers, Bobby Seale, spoke at the Saint Clare Room on the SCU campus.

The event was standing-room only, and the stories covered a lot of territory and 50-plus years, from Seale's work in aerospace and youth jobs programs in Oakland—to the Panthers' free breakfast programs and health clinics. There were tales of carrying guns (legally) into the California statehouse and of trials where he was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Framing much of the stories was Seale’s discussion of a feature film project he hopes to see through. Certainly the roads and stories looped and swerved. But among the simple points that Seale wanted listeners to take away was this: “Hitch your wagon to the human liberation star.”

One of the questions Seale fielded after his talk was about what message he has today for young African American men. “Make sure your beliefs and understanding correspond correctly to reality,” he said.

Watch the video: Watch Bobby Seale’s talk in its entirety, along with the Q&A, below.

Want to see one take? SCU Professor of Economics Bill Sundstrom writes about Bobby Seale’s talk in his blog.

Read more details about the evening with Bobby Seale in the announcement and flyer for the program.

Dianeh said on Jan 5, 2013

It would be interesting to hear from Mr. Seale regarding his views on the The New Black Panther Party and two of its members, Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson, charged with voter intimidation for their conduct outside a polling station in Philadelphia.

Also, it would be interesting to hear Mr. Seale's response to the life of Eldridge Cleaver, a Marxist activist "who moved in among the blacks to promote direct action by violence." Mr. Cleaver, in 1967, became the Black Panther's Minister of Information. In describing the reasoning behind their philosophy of violence, Mr. Cleaver explained that "it was to destroy the whole economic and social structure of the United States so that blacks could enjoy equal rights under an American Communist regime."

Eldridge Cleaver returned after eight years spent in exile in Communist and Socialist countries. He was no longer Communist or atheist; "those bitter years behind the iron and bamboo curtains had dispelled all the propaganda concerning "equality" and "justice" under Communism. He went on to say "I would rather be in jail in America than free anywhere else." Additionally, from Mr. Cleaver's own words: "I was wrong and the Black Panthers were wrong . . . We (black Americans) are inside the system and I feel that the number one objective for Black America is to recognize that they have the same equal rights under the Constitution as Ford or Rockefeller, even if we have no blue-chip stocks. But our membership in the United States is the supreme blue-chip stock and the one we have to exercise." (Laile Bartlett, "The Education of Eldridge Cleaver," Reader's Digest, Sept. 1976, pp. 65-72.) Quite enlightening and very unlike the same old tired message from Bobby Seale.

I guess Santa Clara U is promoting the Progressive (Communist, Socialist, Statist) movement by providing him a platform to campaign for Obama, and promote anti-Constitution (Progressive) propaganda. The primary purpose of a university education is to develop critical thinking. Hopefully, Santa Clara students can see past your manipulation and indoctrination.

Summer 2014

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