Issue date: 3/31/08
Bobby Seale marched with 30 armed activists into the California
legislature on May 2, 1967. They proclaimed the right to bear arms in
protest of the Mulford Act, which called for a ban on the public
display of loaded firearms.
The bill became law, but in the process, Seale and the Black Panther
Party started gaining national prominence.
Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, will be in the Student
Center Grand Ballroom tonight at 7, for a discussion titled "An
Evening with Bobby Seale." It is free and open to the public.
"Bobby Seale is an icon in the history of the civil rights movement,"
said Veleashia Smith, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural
Center, which is hosting the event. "It's important that students
understand who he is, the importance of the Black Panther Party and
the impact they have on society today."
Smith said that she expects Seale to speak on his "thoughts of the
civil rights movement and where we are today."
"Come because you don't know," said Valerie Clay, a recent UK
graduate and head of public relations at the MLK Cultural Center.
"It's a chance for the campus to learn about the true workings of the
Black Panther Party because there are misconceptions of what they stood for."
The Black Panther Party, which operated on a 10-point program,
emerged from Oakland, Calif., in the mid 1960s, in the midst of the
Vietnam War and less than two years after the assassination of civil
rights leader Malcolm X.
Seale was one of the original leaders of the party, which aimed to
combat police brutality, establish leadership in black communities
and reverse the vicious cycles of poverty and oppression in America.
"I researched the Black Panthers and the 10 points," said Geoffrey
Griggs, an agricultural communications sophomore who plans to attend
the event. "Many of the problems they demanded to address then are
still problems now."
The organization's 10 demands included "decent housing, fit for the
shelter of human beings," "decent education for our people," "free
health care for all black and oppressed people," and "an immediate
end to all wars of aggression," according to www.blackpanther.org.
The Black Panthers protested when those goals were in danger, as they
did in 1967 in the California General Assembly and again in 1968 with
Vietnam War protestors at the Chicago Democratic National Convention.
Seale was arrested during that protest and became one of the "Chicago
Eight," who were put on trial for conspiracy to incite a riot, and in
1970 Seale was tried for the murder of a fellow Black Panther. All of
the charges in both cases were eventually dropped.
But the organization also worked within the community and implemented
a free breakfast program at an Oakland church, according to www.bobbyseale.com.
Tonight's event was originally scheduled for Feb. 21 but was
postponed because of inclement weather.