Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Movement, the Maroon Tigers were pounced upon by the Black Panthers for a Crown Forum After Dark panel experience.
Students, faculty and the public overfilled the seats in the Bank of America Auditorium Wednesday night as they awaited the appearances of Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panthers, and fellow members Bob Brown and Kathleen Cleaver.
“Are you down with the revolution?” program director and Morehouse student Je’lon Alexander eloquently asked the audience to begin the event.
Recent times have definitely reflected the memorable decade of the 1960s, when Black people fought against racism and police brutality, and instead demanded equality and civil rights. The Black Panthers were established as a political party to combat the injustice Blacks constantly faced on a daily basis.
Similarly today, police brutality against Blacks seems to have heightened in America, which has resulted in the creation of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in 2012 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watch officer who allegedly murdered 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin in Florida. Since the death of Martin, unarmed Blacks killed by White police officers has become the themed headline across media outlets in the United States.
“This is your moment in history, this is your time in history,” said Brown, the former Chicago Black Panther organizer. “And Morehouse has contributed so much to the history of African people in every corner of the world and in the history of oppressed humanity.”
During his presentation, Brown spoke with a stern passion defending the malicious myths and portrayals of the Black Panthers by the media. He further revealed that on Oct. 10, 1964, the Black Panther logo was borrowed from Clark Atlanta University’s panther logo in the early stages of the party.
Civil rights activist and now Emory University professor Kathleen Cleaver emphasized the theme of liberation, a term she said was adopted by the Congo in Africa, which was dominated by European control. Cleaver asserted that segregation was colonialism in the United States and that for Black people to regain their freedom and liberation, they must model and identify themselves with the history of the African people because “Africa’s pride must be our own,” quoting civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis.
Highlighting the significance of the night’s program, Cleaver also revealed that this event was the first time the three panelists had shared a forum together since 1969. Brown professed that he has only met or spoken with Cleaver and Seale twice in 50 years.
However, the panelists exemplified great chemistry together when sharing the historical moments of their lives.
Seale, the most famous of the Panthers, stole the show by telling some important, horrific stories but in comedic fashion. The time length restraints – two minutes per answer – placed on the speakers by the two student moderators could not regulate the loaded substance of Seale’s discourse. For instance, he humorously told how a Dr. King speech he attended in Oakland in 1965 inspired his activism endeavors, and he recounted an hilarious story about him being gagged and chained to a chair during the infamous court trial of the “Chicago Eight” in 1969.
The revolutionary and resistant Seale elaborately explained why he left behind his tech-savvy career to fully commit to the mission of the Black Panthers. Despite the media and the government’s negative depiction of the Panthers as hoodlums, Seale said that he and his colleagues were well read and researched. Working as the community liaison for the City of Oakland’s Department of Human Resources, Seale’s attention became more focused on the study of politics after researching the profound history of America’s immoral laws.
Highlighting Seale’s educational presentation, he reflected on a conversation between himself and some Black youth from a Oakland neighborhood back in 1965. He urged that the real power for Black people essentially rested in their election to political offices because in 1965, according to his self-conducted research there were only 50 Black people in office out of an estimated 500,000 total available seats in the U.S.
“You don’t have no political seats you don’t have no political power,” Seale said.