April 18, 2008
Written by Emily Snyder '11
David Hilliard, author and one of the founding members of the Black
Panther Party, will present a convocation address on Friday, April 25
at 10:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Entitled "This Side of
Glory: The Story of the Black Panther Party," Hilliard's presentation
will focus on his participation in the Black Liberation Movement in
the 1960s and 1970s, an organization designed to fight police
brutality and social injustice.
Following the convocation, Hilliard will sign copies of his books,
including "Black Panther Party: Service to the People Programs"
(University of New Mexico Press, 2008), "The Black Panther" (Atria,
2007) and "Huey: Spirit of the Panther" (Thunder's Mouth Press,
2006); copies of these titles will be available for purchase at the
event, which is free and open to the public.
An internationally recognized authority on Huey P. Newton and the
Black Panther Party, since 1993 Hilliard has directed the Dr. Huey P.
Newton Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving
Newton's intellectual legacy. The Foundation has collected Newton's
writings including the "Huey P. Newton Reader" (Seven Stories, 2002)
and his early work "To Die for the People," in addition to reissuing
Newton's autobiography, "Revolutionary Suicide." A photographic
history of the Party, "The Legacy of the Panthers," has also been
published. Hilliard's work with the Foundation has been featured in
The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Los Angeles Times,
as well as on National Public Radio and the Pacifica Radio Network.
Hilliard also teaches at Merritt College, Laney College, and New
College in California, and frequently delivers lectures throughout
the United States on Newton and the Black Panther Party.
After several riots erupted in black communities throughout
California in 1966, Hilliard opted to join childhood classmate Newton
in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, a group initially
focused on the prevention of police harassment. When Newton was later
jailed for murder, Hilliard assumed chief responsibility for
maintaining order within the Panthers, and for speaking at public
protests. Although Hilliard preached that "The nature of the panther
is that he never attacks," the assassination of Martin Luther King
Jr. in 1968 provoked attacks on the police led by members of the
Black Panther Party. This shootout led the United States government
to adamantly resist the work of the Panthers.
In 1969, Hilliard launched a program sponsoring free breakfasts and
free clinics for struggling black communities. However, these reforms
came at a time when the nation was shifting its focus to pacifism and
protesting the Vietnam War. As the Panthers struggled to regain
support, Hilliard was brought to trial in 1971 for his role in the
police shootout. Although the prosecution could not link him to a
weapon, he was found guilty and jailed until 1974. Even during jail
time, Hilliard worked to educate other prisoners and instill an
activist spirit fostering political and social reform. Many of the
programs initiated by the Panthers are now considered viable models
for addressing the persistent, basic social injustices and economic
problems of today's American cities and suburbs.
Hilliard has written several historical works on Newton and the
Panthers, in addition to his own memoir, "This Side of Glory: The
Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther
Party" (Lawrence Hill Books, 2001). He was an advisor on the feature
film, "Panther," and on the Spike Lee-produced, "A Huey P. Newton Story."
Copies of "The Black Panther," "Huey: Spirit of the Panther," and
"Black Panther Party: Service to the People Programs" are currently
available at the Carleton bookstore at a 15% discount. The titles
will also be sold at the discounted price at the event. For more
information, including disability accommodations, contact the
Carleton office of college relations at (507) 222-4308 or the
Carleton bookstore at (507) 222-4153.