Bill Whitfield, a member of the Black Panther chapter in Kansas City, serves free breakfast to children before they go to school in this April 16, 1969, file photo. (William P. Straeter, File/AP Images)

After pushback from conservative news outlets as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Park Service has taken back $98,000 in funding for a seemingly green-lit project by a University of California, Berkeley, professor documenting the Black Panther Party.

As reported by The Root, the NPS said that the project, “Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation & Memory Project,” was to “memorialize a history that brought meaning to lives far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area” and was slated to run from Aug. 30, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2019.


But after the FOP sent an Oct. 19 letter to President Donald Trump, the governmental agency quietly reneged, saying, in part, that the funds were never finalized.

“At present, I can confirm that the project in question will not receive funding from the National Park Service,” Park Service spokesman Craig Dalby said.

Chuck Canterbury, national FOP president, wrote in his letter to the president that U.S. Park Ranger Kenneth Patrick was killed by Veronza Leon Curtis Bowers Jr., who was affiliated with the Black Panther Party. Patrick was shot and killed in August 1973.


Canterbury called the Black Panther Party—an organization that fought against rampant police brutality and provided free breakfast to children—“a violent and repugnant organization” that “Ranger Patrick’s own agency now proposes to partner with.”

According to the original proposal, the project sought to document “how the BPP impacted the visual arts, music, dance and styles of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s and underscore the vastness of its impact on American culture.”


According to the East Bay Times, Ula Taylor, the incoming chair of Berkeley’s African-American-studies department and lead investigator for the project, is co-author of Panther: A Pictorial History of the Black Panther Party and the Story Behind the Film and served as a historical consultant on the Mario Van Peebles film Panther.

No word on where the project now stands.

Read more at the East Bay Times.

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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