Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sat, 09/08/2007 - 20:55.

Heard Bobby tonight at 3C - heard him in the 60's too.  We need leadership like his today in Cleveland. 


Mr. Seale addressed a crowd of several hundred at Cuyahoga Community College Saturday evening.   I remember well the Black Panther Party from the 1960’s.  Mr. Seale remembers it well too.   Mr. Seale's visit was sponsored by the Sara J. Harper Leadership Institute.  Retired Hon. J. Harper was at the podium to introduce the evening’s program. 


Originally trained as an engineer, Mr. Seale, now seventy years old , spoke rapid-fire for several hours without notes.   Mr. Seale does not look to religion for solutions, he looks to “programs”, something you can get your hands on and manage day to day. 


Some interesting facts about the movement. 


1.                  2/3 of the members were women in 49 branches around the USA

2.                  One of the “programs” that the Panthers started, and Mr. Seales’ wife - Leslie M. Johnson-Seale   worked on, was the breakfast program for school children.  Some branches (Salem) of the Panthers still provide that program

3.                  9 Panthers are still in jail.

4.                  There are 500,000 elected offices (including everything - like school board, council seats etc etc.)  across the USA and when the Panther Party started there were only 81 blacks holding any elected office.  Today there are apx 15,000 blacks in elected office.

5.                  When the Panthers started in California it was legal to carry firearms right in the city – and Huey Newton – a lawyer – taught the Panthers the rules.  No rounds in the chamber of a carbine, but there could be rounds in the magazine.  This was heavy duty, dangerous, in-your-face work.

6.                  They started armed patrols in Panther uniform to monitor police around the Bay area.  Eventually this lead to a change in California gun laws prohibiting guns anywhere within 150 feet of public property (sidewalks are public property).  This stopped the armed patrols.

7.                  Mr. Seale will be interviewing over 100 Panther members to produce a documentary record of the party.

8.                  Mr. Seale is now developing an environmental program for youth.


Mr. Seale said that the Black Panthers were not a racist black-only political party.   He told the party  members that black people, like white people, and Hispanics, and everyone else, had to be smart enough to discern between racist whites and left leaning whites, and that blacks who were not interested or intelligent enough to make this distinction were not welcome in the Panther party.


About 9:00pm Mr. Seale rounded up his presentation and went to the lobby of the Auditorium where a half dozen books – some published recently and some from the 60’s and 70’s - about the Panthers were on  sale and available for Mr. Seale to autograph.   Many of the audience bought books, had them autographed,  and shook Mr. Seale’s hand. 


A dozen or so Cleveland Panthers were there in uniform.   On the sleeve of their uniforms is a epaulet patch shaped like the continent of Africa in the Panther colors.   Frankly I couldn’t see the connection between the patch of the African continent and the Panther’s political activism here in the USA.  But I could see the common sense and fairness in most, if not all, of the Panther 10 Point Program


It also struck me that over the last 40+ years Mr. Seale had evolved his strategy for making change from a strategy of being ready, willing, and able to use deadly force to a strategy of using his entertaining and eloquent public speaking, combined with writing, documentary research and environmental education, to continue to improve our world. 


Sitting in the auditorium taking it in I thought - there are elements of the 60’s Panther program that would help today.  If we could only get our young people today to discard their guns….and start a newspaper like Seale’s BLACK PANTHER.   




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No, driven by inspiration. Thanks for the report.