Government Awards Major Grant to UC Berkeley to Honor Black Panther Party’s Legacy

Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party, addresses a rally outside the party headquarters in Oakland, Calif., urging members to boycott certain liquor stores. (File/AP Images)
Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party, addresses a rally outside the party headquarters in Oakland, Calif., urging members to boycott certain liquor stores. (File/AP Images)

The U.S. National Park Service announced last week that it will be awarding the University of California, Berkeley, a little under $100,000 for a project dedicated to “truthfully honoring the legacy” of Black Panther Party activists.

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The exact amount in federal funding comes to $97,999.70, according to the official award notice that was posted at the Washington Free Beacon.

Berkeley’s program, titled “Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation & Memory Project,” aims to bring together a multitude of voices and populations to “understand their collective past and inspire a better future.” With regard to the Black Panther Party, this includes identifying important BPP sites around Oakland, Calif., and the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, as well as collecting and documenting how the BPP impacted the “visual arts, music, dance, and styles of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.”

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The Black Panthers continue to be a widely misunderstood group and are often mischaracterized as a terrorist organization. But as this HuffPost article mentions, the BPP helped monitor police interactions in Southern California’s black communities way before the advent of camera phones, as well as launching a free breakfast program for children in impoverished neighborhoods.

According to Okayplayer, the program will be led by Berkeley’s incoming chair of the Department of African American Studies, Dr. Ula Y. Taylor, and will tap consultants like J. Tarika Lewis, the first woman to join Oakland’s BPP.

Berkeley’s Black Panther project is slated to run from Aug. 30, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2019.

Read more at Okayplayer and the Washington Free Beacon.

Staff writer, The Root.

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DISCUSSION

This is needed and so wonderful that it is happening. As an old guy who ate the free breakfasts that the BPP set up, I don’t believe you can find folk who grew up in Oakland during that time who don’t love/admire/respect the Panthers.

And not just breakfast and monitoring the cops. But also vaccinations, elderly services - rides to/from grocery stores and church, reading and tutoring, and so much more that gets lost in the white man’s wrongful telling of history. They were black power advocates - with power meaning self-sufficiency, jobs, addressing police brutality, funding for schools, and on and on.

In fact and even now visits to Oakland churches will present to you leaders who were, in their youth, black panthers or, like me - Jr. Panthers.

We know the history of how the FBI targeted, killed, ruined their reputations and how they fell apart - great minds and writers cover this in many books and think pieces - I’d suggest visiting local bookstores in Oakland and Berkeley for some of the best analysis and review of their impacts and so on.

Finally - one time my friends and I ran into Huey P. Newton at a... Baskin Robbins (lol). We knew who he was - he was an Oakland celebrity - and we geeked out, of course and as one does. He bought us ice-cream (we only went for the free tiny samples, as poor kids did).

And he gave me $5.00 and said: “Always remember to tell people that Huey. P. Newton was nice to you”. So, I have told that story a few times of the years..