Submitted by Diedri Webb.
Last month we met Huey Newton. He and Bobby Seale were partners in the founding of the Black Panther Party. Many young black people today have not had the chance to hear about the party
and there are many Americans who aren’t familiar with what they accomplished.
Introducing Robert George Seale: American engineer, political activist, and author, born in Dallas, TX in 1936. Seale dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Air Force. Three years later, a court martial convicted him of fighting with a commanding officer at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, resulting in a bad conduct discharge. It’s worth noting that most young black activists had to struggle past a troubled beginning, as in Newton’s frequent arrests and Seale’s Bad Conduct discharge which would follow him through life.
When Bobby Seale first heard Malcom X speak it changed his life. That experience inspired Huey and Bobby. Together they founded the Black Panther Party in 1966. Bobby served as the Chairman and
Huey, Minster of Defense. Bobby became Huey Newton’s right hand man.
In 1967 the pair began publishing the groundbreaking Black Panther, which was a four-page newsletter founded by Huey and Bobby in Oakland, California. In less than a year the newsletter grew into a newspaper to inform, educate, organize people, and promote the ten-point program and platform. 500 issues were printed but the output soon grew to 140,000 issues. In 1970 the chapter grew from a store front to the main headquarters, providing free breakfast for schoolchildren, transportation to prison and free medical clinic.
The years that followed were full of headline making troubles for Newton and Seale, including the 1969 Democratic Convention when Seale was indicted in Chicago for encouraging riots at the convention.
There are many people who remember only the riots and arrests but it is very important to remember that they believed themselves to be using the only weapons available. Seattle chapter was up and running for 10 years beginning in 1978.
Diedri Webb is a Buffalo Soldier Living Historian who lives in Tacoma. After forty-two years as a professional cosmetologist, she has now retired from making the outside of people beautiful and is instead sharing the beauty of Black American Stories. You can hear her tell her stories of Legendary Black Heroes on SwimmingUpstreamRadioShow.Com