The story

Fredrika Newton

Fredrika Newton

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Fredrika Newton joined the Black Panther Party (BPP) in 1969. She met Huey Newton in 1970, marrying him eleven years later in 1981. They lived together until Newton was killed in 1989.

In 1993 Fredrika Newtonjoined with David Hilliard to establish the Huey P. Newton Foundation, a non-profit educational organization. Serving as the Foundation's President, she operates the community-based programs, which include literacy, voter outreach and health-related components.

Widow of Black Panther founder Huey Newton fights for monument in West Oakland

Fredrika Newton (left) sits in conversation with DJ scholar Lynnee Denise at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, Calif. Saturday, February 15, 2020. Fredrika Newton is the wife of the late Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Her conversation with Denise surrounding her husband's cultural significance and their personal relationship coincided with the deYoung Museum's exhibit "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983". Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Every week or so, Fredrika Newton receives a flyer with an offer to buy her home.

Newton, widow of Huey P. Newton, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, lives in West Oakland.

She sees a connection between the Black Panthers&rsquo fight for social justice for African Americans in the late 1960s and the battle she and her neighbors face just to stay in West Oakland, where home prices are skyrocketing and wealthy buyers are moving in.

Founded in the city in 1966, the Black Panthers are remembered for wearing black leather jackets and black berets while patrolling West Oakland streets armed with rifles and pistols.

In 1969, the group began feeding children at St. Augustine&rsquos Episcopal Church on 29th Street before school. By the end of the year, they were feeding 20,000 kids in 19 U.S. cities in what would later become the blueprint for the federal government&rsquos school breakfast program.

That&rsquos a nugget of black history to chew on.

Oakland&rsquos history is inextricably linked to the Black Panthers, but you wouldn&rsquot know it if you recently moved here. There are no commemorative plaques or statues.

&ldquoNothing to show the breakfast programs, nothing to show the free food giveaway, nothing to show the presence,&rdquo Newton said.

Newton, president of the Huey P. Newton Foundation, is on a quest to erect a monument to the Black Panthers and, eventually, a Black Panther museum. Think about it: Here we are near the end of another Black History Month and there&rsquos little in Oakland to mark the compelling and complex legacy of the Black Panther Party.

Fredrika Newton hugs Melvin Newton, brother of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton, after speaking at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, Calif. Saturday, February 15, 2020. Fredrika Newton is the wife of the late Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Her conversation with DJ scholar Lynnee Denise surrounding her husband's cultural significance and their personal relationship coincided with the deYoung Museum's exhibit "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983". Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Here&rsquos more food for thought. A half century ago, West Oakland was a low-income, black neighborhood populated by families who migrated to California to work in the bustling wartime shipyards. West Oakland was one of the few areas blacks could live because of redlining, the systemic and discriminatory practice of refusing to issue them loans in certain neighborhoods.

Redlining enforced neighborhood segregation, and the practice crippled black neighborhoods by denying crucial investment dollars needed to purchase property and develop neighborhood resources.

The Black Panthers are known for fighting police brutality and racial inequality, but they also fought against the destabilization of the black community.

The organization was confrontational in the early years when members openly carried firearms legally. It led to violent clashes and the death of Oakland police officer John Frey &mdash Huey Newton, who was also shot in the incident, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the case but the verdict was reversed on appeal and the charges eventually were dropped.

But when the Black Panthers put down their weapons, the organization focused on education, health care and self-reliance.

Fredrika Newton shakes hands with supporters and audience members after speaking at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, Calif. Saturday, February 15, 2020. Fredrika Newton is the wife of the late Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Her conversation with DJ scholar Lynnee Denise surrounding her husband's cultural significance and their personal relationship coincided with the deYoung Museum's exhibit "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983". Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Long neglected, West Oakland today is where the hot property is &mdash at prices inaccessible to many of the neighborhood&rsquos longtime residents. And for the folks who own their homes like Newton, they just have to open their mailboxes for offers to leave so they can make room for someone else.

&ldquoWe&rsquore looked upon as strangers in our own community,&rdquo Newton said. &ldquoIt&rsquos like people are moving into the neighborhood and not even being neighborly. So the people that have lived there all their lives are treated as though they don&rsquot even belong in their own neighborhoods.&rdquo

I met Newton last weekend at the de Young Museum, where she appeared to discuss the cultural resonance of her late husband. The talk coincided with &ldquoSoul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,&rdquo an exhibition that unflinchingly approaches racial turbulence in this country.

Newton, who was born in Oakland, spent part of her childhood on Bateman Street, a short block in Berkeley. Her mother was a white, Jewish activist and her father a black musician. Their neighbors included Tom Hayden, an anti-war and civil rights activist who later became a politician, and Robert Scheer, the former editor of Ramparts, a political and literary magazine. Jane Fonda would host political education classes on the block. Newton&rsquos mother introduced her to Huey Newton.

Fredrika Newton sits in conversation with DJ scholar Lynnee Denise at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, Calif. Saturday, February 15, 2020. Fredrika Newton is the wife of the late Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Her conversation with Denise surrounding her husband's cultural significance and their personal relationship coincided with the deYoung Museum's exhibit "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983". Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

About five years ago Newton, a retired addiction nurse, took on a more active role in the foundation she co-founded in 1995 with David Hilliard, former chief of staff for the Black Panthers. She envisions a monument near Lake Merritt, and a traveling exhibition of Black Panther archives. The foundation is raising money for the monument.

We talked about the tension in Oakland caused by housing insecurity that was punctuated when a group of mothers moved into a house in West Oakland without the owner&rsquos permission. Moms 4 Housing was protesting the companies they see as profiting from the displacement of people in black and brown neighborhoods.

On Properly Laying the Black Panthers to Rest

Fredrika Newton, widow of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. Photography by Aubrie Pick. Mural by Refa One and AeroSoul.

“At noon today, it was pitch black outside,” shares Fredrika Newton, a civil rights activist and former Black Panther, before glancing towards her dining room window in early September 2020. Just a few miles away, California’s wildfire season has already proven to be record-breaking, the destruction surging into the tens of millions of miles while spanning the entire West Coast. “Yeah, I’m a little scared.”

As the widow of none other than Huey P. Newton, the revolutionary co-founder of the Black Panther Party, she is no stranger to confronting her fears, wildfires included. This all started at a young age. “We were marching before we were walking!” laughs Newton. “My mother was a realtor and housing rights activist. She took a firm, strong stance against redlining and discrimination.” Her father was a musician and the two met at a political event for the Communist Party. “My mother was Jewish, and my father was Black, and it was against the law at that point to marry. And so, I think they had to marry in Mexico.” Although California legalized interracial marriage in 1948 (Perez v. Sharp), it wasn’t widely put into practice until 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled in its favor with Loving v. Virginia.

Despite not being activist-minded or politically-motivated throughout high school, Newton became familiar with many activists of the day thanks to her mother’s activism. They would travel far and wide to congregate at her mother’s home in Berkeley, California. “She was actually the one responsible for getting [Huey] a secure place to live after he was released from prison. I didn’t know she was doing that kind of work.” Newton continued to reflect, “And so, I came home from college and she said ‘Yes, [Huey’s] coming over for lunch.’” It was during this fateful meal that the stars aligned, and at 19 years old, Newton found herself in a relationship with one of the most iconic men of the century.

“It wasn’t really ‘dating’ in the sense of the word because he had to be cloistered,” Newton explained. “We’d have stolen moments in an attempt to have normal relationship patterns.” Surprisingly, despite being continuously watched and surveilled, solitude found a way to creep in. “He was lonely a lot. He was really isolated up in his apartment it felt like a prison for him. So, there weren’t a lot of shared times with the public, it was mostly trying to steal moments alone.” Newton recalls a telescope that Huey kept by the window, its scope aimed at his former jail cell, which was visible just across Lake Merritt atop the Alameda County Courthouse. During these first few months of her relationship, Newton felt herself growing more politically active, specifically within the Black Panther Party.

Founded in Oakland, California, in 1966 by Dr. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the Black Panther Party (BPP) was a revolutionary socialist political organization with chapters across the United States, UK, and Algeria. With membership numbering in the thousands, the party platform was organized by the Ten-Point Program, which laid out range of demands and beliefs including the “power to determine the destiny of our Black community," full employment for Black people, and free healthcare for all Black and oppressed people. Unfortunately, the BPP was targeted by the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover and regularly attacked via his illegal COINTELPRO missions. Unable to withstand these external conflicts, the BPP was officially dissolved in 1982.

But by late 1971, Newton found herself regularly attending BPP events on weekends, which included political education classes, learning the Ten-Point Platform, and diving deeper into the BPP's overall culture. “I felt that I was really a party member when I started pulling watch, which is to say there was never a time when there wasn’t somebody awake and making sure that we were protected.” She continued, “There were about 28 members who had been murdered by the police. And there were often raids of our headquarters and where we lived.”

“I felt that I was really a party member when I started pulling watch, which is to say there was never a time when there wasn’t somebody awake and making sure that we were protected.”

“It was really stressful for all of us, because not only did you have to look for the police on the outside of the party but the inside of the party, too. You didn’t know who was infiltrating and who was not.” She sighed. “You didn’t know, and that was by design. The police sent letters to Huey saying it’s from different party members or different organizations, exposing this person or that person. So, it set up this whole atmosphere where it was possible for anybody to be the police.”

Newton doesn't recall that there was much room for fun—there were constant raids by police, volunteers pulling 24-hour shifts, and repeated attacks on their lives. Yet, she had to find joy in the process, understanding that the work she was doing mattered. Working on the distribution of the BPP’s weekly newspaper stands out to her. “I liked it because a large group of party members you don’t normally see from San Francisco and Oakland and Berkeley would be all over, working to get these papers packed up and shipped out.” The spirit of community and love for the people kept everyone tied together, each finding their sense of purpose to uplift the race.

As if the rigorous pace of the Panther life and the constant threat of death that hung heavily in the air weren’t enough, by 1973, relations between Newton and Huey had turned a bit cold. After Newton’s father boldly confronted Huey, demanding that Huey “either marry [Fredrika] or leave her!” Newton discovered Huey had moved on to another woman he would later go on to marry. “I was just heartbroken!” Newton exclaimed. “This guy was so public. He had the adoration of thousands and thousands of women. It was just too much for me,” her voice trailed.

“This guy was so public. He had the adoration of thousands and thousands of women. It was just too much for me.”

Newton will never forget the day, shortly after their split, that she laid eyes on her own FBI files via the Freedom of Information Act. “There were FBI agents right on the other side of [Huey’s] apartment—they had rented the apartment next door. So many of our intimate moments and moments together were recorded, all the way until I left [the Party] and went to Tanzania… I was tracked there through the FBI files.” She paused. “They were relentless.”

After spending a deeply entrenched two years with the BPP, by 1973, Newton was ready to move on. She packed her bags and enrolled in Wesleyan University in Connecticut. “I’d done a little research and saw that there had been a history of activism on that campus… I’d never been there before, but it was an attempt to do something different and really start fresh.”

After graduating, Newton returned to the Bay Area, and while she’d occasionally cross paths with Huey, nothing became of it until nearly ten years later in 1984. Huey rang her one fateful day out of the blue, professing his love and undying devotion. “That was on a Monday. That Friday, we were married.” Truly the definition of soulmates, the two enjoyed five years of marriage before Huey was murdered in 1989.

In the years immediately following, aside from dealing with the incredible weight of grief and loss, she was also left with much of Huey’s archives, nearly all BPP files. “How did I wake up and have this legacy of this man and this whole history of this organization in my hands?!” To put it mildly, she was overwhelmed. "And so, it took many, many years before I felt like I was up to the task.” When Stanford University reached out to help document and organize the files, Newton saw this as a godsend.

“How did I wake up and have this legacy of this man and this whole history of this organization in my hands?!”

Along with David Hilliard, a former Black Panther, she co-founded the Huey P. Newton Foundation in 1993. “So many people were distorting the history and revising the history, so we wanted to make sure there was a center that had an educational mission,” she explained. “We created a nonprofit to maintain and promote the history and legacy of the Black Panther Party. We did that through lectures and republication of the books. There is a photographic pictorial essay that traveled internationally, and we did tours and talks and movies and that sort of thing.”

In recent years, Newton has taken on a more proactive, forward-facing role within the foundation. As she looked around the city of Oakland, birthplace of the Panthers, what stood out to her was that there was no public presence honoring that important legacy. She thought, “Because I do art, how can I combine my love of art and this history?” Her response was to advocate for a campaign of BPP-inspired public art—today she’s fighting to create public art installations, erect monuments, and get new street names adopted.

“Thousands come here every year to see some evidence of the Black Panther Party in Oakland and there’s been nothing to show them,” she explained. “So, I decided that I wanted to do a monument, a gift that pays homage to the legacy of the party.”

And today, Newton has a whole new generation of artists and activists on her side. After the murder of George Floyd and amidst the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that followed, hundreds of murals went up all over the city of Oakland Across the street from site Huey’s death, there is a huge mural in works commemorating the women of the Black Panther Party. “So I thought, I’m going to get the street name changed! Let’s change the street to Dr. Huey Newton Way and put some kind of public piece there at the site of where he died. On the corner of Mandela Parkway and Dr. Huey Newton Way.” If Newton has it her way, this will all be done by 2022. The street name changed has already been approved by the Oakland City Council.

Newton wants to take things a step further. As she continues to raise her public profile as the face of the Foundation, she sees the immediate need to educate the masses on BPP history. Much of this lies within the Black Panther Party weekly newspapers that were published for 13 years. “That history isn’t accessible to anybody—there are a couple of places where they’re online digitally, but they’re not indexed or searchable.” Currently, all the newspaper and Black Panther Party archives are physically located at Stanford. Newton is fundraising so that one day, hopefully by 2021, these papers will be entirely indexed and digitized, thereby making them accessible to everyone. Finally, Newton also sees the need for a physical BPP museum in Oakland that can also be accessed online. The Black Power Museum for the People is being slated for a 2026 grand opening.

Newton has had to lean on many committed volunteers to help bring many of these initiatives to fruition. She credits Xavier Buck, a doctoral student at UC Berkeley, Damien McDuffie, the Foundation’s archivist, and Dana King, a sculptor who will be creating a Huey bust to be displayed on the street named after him one day, for being especially grounding and helpful during this time. “For over a year we’ve been working side-by-side, putting in many, many hours a week on a volunteer basis, trying to make these initiatives happen. These guys I work with give me life!”

“I know it sounds trite, but I think that's one thing that [the Panthers] didn't do. We didn't have a spiritual life, and we did not take care of ourselves well, and I think it definitely impairs your thought process and impairs your relationships.”

With so many items to tackle, it’s a wonder how Newton can maintain a level head. “I’m 68 years old, only have so much capacity, and we’re working long hours daily with these projects. I feel so invigorated by it all!” To decompress, she has learned how to start prioritizing the act of self-care. “I know it sounds trite, but I think that's one thing that [the Panthers] didn't do. We didn't have a spiritual life, and we did not take care of ourselves well, and I think it definitely impairs your thought process and impairs your relationships,” she reflected. “You know I'm sure there were many things we could have done differently, and that was one of them. It’s still a struggle for me to balance work, and work-life balance tends to be a lot of work.”

“You’ve got to take care of yourself, nurture yourself, nurture your loved ones, nurture your love relationships because if you don’t, you’ll be so off-balance. I am so grateful for the love and support that I receive from my partner, Herb King, my son- and daughter-in-law, Kieron and Alice Slaughter, and all of my close friends.” Besides spending time with loved ones and creating a Black Sanctuary Garden in her yard with the help of Leslie Bennett, she utilizes a holistic approach to health to maintain her youthful spirit. “I don't eat sugar and I don't eat flour, and I meditate each morning.” That, coupled with an active spiritual life, allows her to “trust God every step of the way.”

As she acknowledged, the current state of government affairs within the country doesn’t help. “It was difficult then, and it's very difficult now—the trauma much more publicly accessible to you,” she remarked when reflecting on the pervasiveness of live videos and social media that sheds light on police brutality. One of her strategies to overcome these injustices is to fight back at the ballot, on the local as well as the national front. “Too much bloodshed was spilled over the right for us to vote. It's imperative that we vote!”

How Some Elders are Working to Preserve the Legacy of the Black Panther Party in Oakland

Buffalo Sojourn, who just goes by Buffalo, has been a community advocate for decades. He&rsquos also a former member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and has served as a medical advocate for the past 15 years.

Lately, he's focused in particular on pushing for co-housing models for seniors.

The Bay Area, where Buffalo has lived for over 40 years, can be a challenging place for seniors to find affordable housing. &ldquoGenerally speaking, this is no place for old folks and it's a hard place for old Panthers,&rdquo he said. Buffalo, 73, has been unhoused on and off for the past 20 years.

About three years ago, housing lawyer Beilal Chatila moved to West Oakland from Detroit. Chatila said he first met Buffalo while he was hanging out on the porch &mdash they would sit and talk for hours. Eventually, Buffalo told Chatila about the many Black Panther Party-related documents he had in storage.

&ldquoWhen I found out that he was without shelter, it came as a shock because I knew at the time that he was helping people who had cancer,&rdquo Chatila said.

Chatila recently started a GoFundMe on Buffalo&rsquos behalf, detailing his financial situation.

&ldquoBuffalo receives about $700 a month in government aid, but he spends $480 of that per month on a storage unit, where he has preserved thousands of important documents and other memorabilia related to the Black Panther Party,&rdquo Chatila wrote on the page.

Buffalo and attorney Beilal Chatila on Center and Ninth streets in Oakland on May 6, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

In Buffalo's view, one of the most important things he can do is continue to preserve the legacy of the Black Panther Party for the generations to come.

Buffalo&rsquos story brings up a larger issue of ownership, power and historical narrative when it comes to preserving and sharing the legacy of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, and the broader Bay Area. He's one of many people eager to ensure the history of the Black Panther Party is accessible and available to the public.

Buffalo and the Black Panther Party

Buffalo&rsquos relationship with the Black Panther Party spanned the course of several years.

&ldquoMy higher education came through the Ministry of Information as led by the multimedia master and free speech developer [Leroy] Eldridge Cleaver,&rdquo Buffalo said. "Mumia [Abu-Jamal] is my junior brother.&rdquo

Buffalo also helped start a Black Panther Party chapter in Portland, Oregon, but eventually returned to San Francisco, where he last served the party.

&ldquoI'm an alumnus of Grove Street College,&rdquo he said. In the late '60s and '70s, the Grove Street College student body included Black Panther Party co-founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Grove Street eventually turned into Merritt College, and a version of this evolved into what is now North Peralta Community College.

When considering his own documentation of his years in the party, Buffalo spoke to the idea of value &mdash who is valuing what, and the broader need to train the next generation of archivists. "I'm part of a group that we're training people, persuading people to gain knowledge in library and information science so that we have a group of archivists,&rdquo Buffalo said.

Who is telling the story, and how heavily police documents and FBI files are consulted, also forms the lens through which the story of the Black Panther Party is told. &ldquoThere's a number of additions and corrections to history as we know it,&rdquo Buffalo said.

Chatila added, &ldquoIt's basically the concept of controlling the narrative at least as it relates to the value of these artifacts," with the idea to pass along the lessons to people today.

While Buffalo has many different documents in his storage unit, he highlighted a few specific pieces: &ldquoWe have two or three collage posters about Mumia made in three cities, in three decades, on two coasts,&rdquo he said.

Buffalo holds a Mumia Abu-Jamal poster on Center and Ninth streets in Oakland on May 7, 2021, in front of a mural honoring the women of the Black Panther Party by Oakland-based muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

&ldquoI have a number of things that, either Mumia gets out alive, and I give to him, or else he dies and I give to his kinfolks,&rdquo Buffalo said. He also noted that since Abu-Jamal's birthday, earlier this year, there&rsquos been renewed efforts to call for his freedom. Abu-Jamal is a journalist and author currently serving a prison sentence for the alleged murder of a police officer in 1982 after a trial that failed to meet international standards, according to rights group Amnesty International. Many national and international celebrities believe he was framed.

Cases like Abu-Jamal&rsquos continue to highlight the importance of having a reliable place to find information about the Black Panther Party.

Buffalo added that they'd "love to release it all and put it on the digital archive." Then the public would be able to see any discrepancy &mdash specifically with what may have been reported by COINTELPRO, the FBI counterintelligence program that aimed to discredit individuals considered subversive to the U.S. government. COINTELPRO used tactics such as psychological warfare, harassment and had extensive files on many Black Panther Party members.

Making the Black Panther Party's History More Accessible in the Bay Area

In the late '90s, shortly after Dr. Huey P. Newton&rsquos papers were acquired by Stanford University for an undisclosed amount, Billy X Jennings started "It's About Time," an online archive with a physical space in Sacramento.

&ldquoI made a promise at the time that we were going to start our own archives, and we did,&rdquo he told KQED.

For Jennings, access is the main issue. He wants people to be able to find the information wherever they are, especially those in Oakland. His own interest in archiving and preserving is in part because the history has been &ldquodistorted,&rdquo he said, referring to COINTELPRO.

&ldquoI'm still participating in the struggle because in the Black Panther Party it was 'each one, teach one.' I have knowledge and experience to pass on,&rdquo Jennings said. &ldquoIt's very important to have the correct information to educate people about the legacy of the party . even though the party is not here today, the party has lessons to be taught."

Fredrika Newton, widow of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton, said the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation is working to digitize more archives and create public art to share the party's history. She also said librarians have told her the Black Panther Party archives at Stanford libraries are some of the most visited.

Members of the party, as well as their supporters, often have a "false narrative courtesy of COINTELPRO," Fredrika Newton said. &ldquoLives were destroyed, relationships were destroyed, when people talk about: Did they just end? The party was destroyed."

Displaying some of this history as public art is a major project of the foundation, to help reclaim the narrative.

"It's exactly what we did in the Black Panther Party: using art as education,&rdquo she said.

Rebalancing History Through Public Art

For some supporters, that also means rebalancing the narrative, including the important role that women played in the party. Jilchristina Vest is the visionary and owner of the house with a mural honoring those women. She said balancing the narrative doesn't take anything away, but provides a more holistic story.

"What we need to understand, and the reason why I created the mural, was I was in such a deep place of grief and rage last summer," Vest said, "and I needed to find balance and I needed to find joy.&rdquo

Beilal Chatila, Buffalo and Jilchristina Vest look at Buffalo's Black Panther Party memorabilia on Center and Ninth streets in Oakland on May 7, 2021, in front of a mural honoring the women of the Black Panther Party by Oakland-based muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith. (Beth LaBerge)

She recently launched a new website, and tickets are now available for a new pop-up exhibit open for the first time Juneteenth weekend.

&ldquoWe've gone too long with this negative false narrative of who the Black Panther Party was,&rdquo Vest said. &ldquoThe Black Panther Party was systematically destroyed in ways in which that is still happening to people today.&rdquo

Black Panther photos and posters at at the home of Jilchristina Vest on Center and Ninth streets in Oakland on May 7, 2021. Vest is making the ground floor of her home into a Black Panther Museum. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

She echoes both Jennings and Buffalo in her view that much could be learned from the party's legacy today.

&ldquoThere was nothing that we were doing then, that cannot be done times 10 today,&rdquo Vest said. &ldquoThey were a group of humanitarians that were trying to save people, feed people, clothe people, house people, educate people, protect people."

Shortly after unveiling the mural in February, Vest called her friend Lisbet Tellefsen, who she describes as &ldquothe cream of the crop archivist for the Black Panther Party.&rdquo Tellefsen brought over some banners that had been sitting in storage.

Buffalo tours the future site of a Black Panther Museum to be opened by Jilchristina Vest at her home on Center and Ninth streets in Oakland on May 7, 2021. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Vest would like to see a permanent museum in Oakland, a permanent staff and dedicated researchers preserving the legacy of the party.

"If we continue to allow somebody else to tell us where we come from, then we'll never know where we're going," she said.

In the meantime, Vest said she'll see how the pop-up museum goes and potentially keep it up longer.

"It's our opportunity right now to unpack our own history and look at these archives and these photographs and the essays and speeches and remind ourselves that we're descendants of," she said, "in my opinion, one of the greatest groups of humanitarians that ever existed."

Since Chatila launched the GoFundMe on behalf of Buffalo, they've raised nearly $25,000 of their goal of $100,000. As Chatila wrote in a recent update, "For now, he [Buffalo] is staying at Airbnb's and is looking to buy a wheelchair accessible van for his medical advocacy work."

Chatila said he's going to make sure Buffalo has everything he needs and they'd like to be able to put money toward a house that can be used as an example of the collective senior housing Buffalo envisioned.

"Without us as a society providing health care and housing, and taking care of the basic needs of the elders, we&rsquore losing a part of history,&rdquo Chatila said.

And since starting the GoFundMe, a company called Ripcord has offered assistance in digitizing the Black Panther Party documents.

As KQED took photos in early May, Buffalo and Vest, who used to be neighbors, chatted about their time in the party.

She joked that perhaps he should sit in one of the rooms of the pop up &mdash as a part of the museum.

Buffalo, 73, stands on Center and Ninth streets in Oakland on May 7, 2021, in front of a mural honoring the women of the Black Panther Party by Oakland-based muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

10 Members of the Black Panther Party You Should Know

Black history is a level of intelligence that requires consistent daily acknowledgement. One month is not enough.

Founded in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California, The Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP) became known as one of the most notorious organizations in black history. Armed with mighty knowledge bound to revolutionary acts in the face of activism and community leadership, the young men and women of The Black Panther Party were eager to establish a change in their communities. Taking authoritative measures in a notably militant stance, members started to promote a sense of black liberation with consciousness on the structure of white supremacy. The organization’s slogan “all power to the people” was a mental commonality among founding members which was a strict demand for social equality as black men and women in America. A mentality that eventually brewed the context of hip-hop lyricism.

When it comes to members of the Black Panther Party, many often recall greats such as Fred Hampton, Assata Shakur, Stokely Carmichael, and countless more as being the most influential members. But, what about those who often go unsung? Those Black Panthers who became political prisoners, social activists, or renowned figures in black history, who are they? The following list is a selection of 10 members of the Black Panther Party you should know in order to have a well-rounded knowledge of the historical collective.

1. Mumia Abu-Jamal

At the young age of 14, Mumia Abu-Jamal found his way into the ropes of the Black Panthers after he was beaten down by white racists and policemen for making an attempt to protest at a George Wallace presidential campaign rally back in 1968. His presence pioneered the Black Panther Party Philadelphia chapter, and he was quickly appointed the position, Lieutenant of Information. In December 1981, his brother William Cook was stopped by Philadelphia Police Officer, Daniel Faulkner and the instance quickly escalated into a physical matter. Mumia, who was stationed in the area as a Taxi driver, reportedly saw the confrontation, and ended up being arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Officer Faulkner leading to a unanimous death sentence in 1982. Mumia is currently a renowned world journalist, activist, and certified political prisoner who continues to fight for his freedom and right due justice that has been masked with racial bias.

2. Pete O’Neal

Known as the founding Chairman of the Kansas Chapter, Pete O’Neal has spent the last 46 years of his life living exile in Tanzania in the name of the Black Panthers. In October of 1969, just months into his profound duty, O’Neal was sentenced to a two-four year prison term by a Federal judge for transporting a gun across state lines. He was arrested shortly after he interrupted a Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington piercingly accusing a Kansas police chief of supplying multiple white supremacist groups with weapons. Once O’Neal was released on bail, he decided to flee out of the country and ended up making his first stop in Sweden. Then he swayed over to Algeria, and in late 1972, O’Neal finally landed into the country of his new residency, Tanzania. His wife Charlotte, certified as his comrade fled with him, and the couple has since developed a true high culture in Tanzania. Together, the O’Neals have purchased four acres of land, and have also started the United African American Community Center (UAACC), a center focused on tying the culture gap between blacks in America and African through the arts. The UAACC also stands as an orphanage where he houses and nurtures nearly 100 local Tanzanian children a day.

3. Robert Hillary King

Being a body of the Angola Three, a collective of three former prison mates who were all kept in solitary confinement for over 25 years, also Black Panthers, Robert Hillary King successfully managed to aid his said innocence. An avid radical, his steady activism lead him to the land of Angola, Louisiana, which became the stomping ground of his Black Panther coming. In 1973, King was accused of the murder of another inmate shortly after his move to Angola. He was immediately convicted and placed in solitary confinement. After several attempts at appealing, King’s conviction was overturned in 2001. The furious former Black Panther became the first out of the Angola Three to be released to the general public.

4. Charlotte Hill O’Neal

Charlotte Hill O’Neal defines the phrase “ride or die chick.” Known to be the wife of founder and former Chairman of the Kansas Black Panther Party branch Pete O’Neal, who fled the country after being sentenced two-four years for transporting a gun across the state lines in 1969, Charlotte is a living example of an action prone Panther. In 1972, the couple went exile to the North African Swahili speaking country of Tanzania. Stamped by Arusha natives as Mama C, she is uplifted as an African American pioneer who has embraced her ancestral homeland and developed her homestead. Mama C continues to reflect the Black Panther principal of “We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine The Destiny Of Our Black Community,” as a co-founder of the United African American Community Center (UAACC). The UAACC is a non-profit organization that propels programs that aid in the intellectual excellence of Arusha youth.

5. Geronimo Pratt

Without a doubt, the case of Ji-Jaga is a solid account to approach when it comes to making an exhibition about the process African Americans faced when being wrongly convicted of a crime. Considered to be one of the most prominent members of the Black Panther Party, Geronimo “Ji- Jaga” Pratt respectively held the title of Deputy Minister of Defense of the Southern California Chapter. In 1972, Ji-Jaga was tested and eventually convicted of the murder of elementary school teacher Caroline Olsen, serving 27 years in prison with 8 years in solitary confinement. With the helping hand of the late Johnnie Cochran, Pratt was released from prison in 1997 after his conviction was vacated due to concealed evidence that owned mass potential at affecting the verdict. During his time in prison, Pratt’s identity to many was symbolic to the cords of injustice plagued against blacks in America, influencing like acts all over the world. One year after his release, Cochran helped Pratt file and win a federal civil lawsuit against the FBI and LAPD over malicious prosecution and false imprisonment, a 4.5 million settlement. Pratt relocated to Tanzania in his later years and prematurely passed away from a heart attack in 2011. He is also known to be the godfather of late hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur.

6. Fredrika Newton

The legacy of the historic party’s fallen founder, Huey P. Newton was left in the palm of her hands. In 1969, as a certified youth, Fredrika Newton joined the Black Panther Party and met her future husband one year later. Eleven years after their initial meeting, the pair got married and lived harmoniously until his disquieting murder in 1989. In 1993, Mrs. Newton established the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, an association dedicated to sustain and proclaim the positive history, potent ideals, and legacy of the Black Panther Party and its significant founder Huey Newton through the development of progressive educational resources.

7. Elbert Howard

Sanctioned as a pioneer of the Black Panther Party, Elbert Howard aka Big Man is a man whose heart has always been sincere to the goal of black liberation. It was the cries he heard in his community of Oakland, California that drew him into the Black Panther Party. After serving a couple of years in the United States Air Force, Howard met Huey Newton and Bobby Seale while he underwent studies at Merritt College. The three scholars spent time studying revolutionary theories and practices with a common cause to deal with the wavering misfortunes of their community. This desire to achieve black liberation lead to the birth of the Black Panther Party, making Howard one of the six founding members. Howard is instrumental in the history of Panther journalism as the first editor of its newspaper, The Black Panther Party Community News Service. Today, Big Man continues to achieve party goals by serving as an advisor to several groups in the country to improve the conditions of health care and education.

8. Ericka Huggins

Ericka Huggins’ journey into dedicating her heart, mind, and soul to black liberation makes her a beyond qualified figure to speak about black women in the struggle to nation zenith. Inspired by the 1963 March on Washington, Huggins became active in the black liberation movement and joined the Black Panther Party in 1968 at the age of 18. One year prior to joining, she married the leader of the Los Angeles Chapter, John Higgins who was later murdered by members of black nationalist group US Organization just two years into their marriage and after the birth of their first daughter in 1969. Higgins, alongside her husband, was also the leader of the Los Angeles chapter but she eventually became the leader of the New Haven chapter later that year, where her most memorable panther moment rests. She was arrested after allegations surrounding the murder of Black Panther member Alex Rackley were pointed in her direction along with Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale. A newly widowed and single mother, Higgins spent two years in solitary confinement awaiting trial, with the charges eventually getting dropped. Such experience has turned Higgins into a notable poet, educator, and human rights activist in light of her continuous effort to conduct social change.

9. Malik Rahim

A founding member in the development of Louisiana’s Black Panther chapter, Malik Rahim is a force who owned an unapologetic approach towards community building. Just months into developing the Louisiana chapter, Rahim became the defense minister due to his bold stance during police raids and overall racist encounters. The focal point of Rahim’s political activism was for the rights of political prisoners. He was determined in assuring political prisoners received adequate survival resources and housing upon release. Such desire was fueled after he was released from his five-year sentence for a Los Angeles armed robbery in the early 80’s. Over the past 40 years, he has been active in improving the housing conditions for blacks in New Orleans by working closely with the city’s housing authority, keeping the original motives of the Black Panthers, alive.

10. Sundiata Acoli

As the persona of a true black revolutionary totes freedom, justice, and equality, Sundiata Acoli is a man who is bound to the aforementioned principles due to his refusal to fall victim. Following years of civil rights work and a degree in Mathematics, Acoli joined the Harlem Black Panther Party chapter in 1968 as the branch’s finance minister. An active community devotee in issues surround police brutality, housing, employment, child care, and education, he contributed to the Black Panther’s elite status amid the black communities of New York City in the 1960s. Just one year after joining the party, Acoli was arrested under the notion of the Panther 21 conspiracy case where 21 members of the BPP were accused of fabricating a bombing and rifle attack on two police stations and one education building in New York City. After being held in jail without bail for nearly two years, Acoli was finally acquitted of all charges. Acoli is well acclaimed for his involvement in the fatal 1973 New Jersey Turnpike shooting of state trooper Werner Forester, which left Black Panther member Zayd Mailk Shakur dead, the iconic Assata Shakur to escape away to Cuba, and himself, a life sentence plus 30 years consecutive years at Trenton State Prison. Despite maintaining a stellar record on prison work, academics, discipline, employment offers, Acoli has been denied parole. The opposed have made several attempts to trigger him to denounce the Black Panther Party and his revolutionary, pro-black political profile, but, he has effortlessly dodged them. His refusal has caused New Jersey courts add a 20 year hit to his sentencing, affecting his likelihood of getting a chance at parole.

The intensity displayed in hip-hop lyricism is a product of the Black Panther Party. During the civil rights era, the demand for equality in the black community was understood on an extreme level due to being the direct experience of black youth in America. Consciousness about the reception opposed parties may brew was at large, giving birth to the mentality of transparent militancy and brazen expression. Such behavior is evident during the infancy of the hip-hop emcee when catchy lines showcased faulty times, yet demanding change and justice. The Black Panther Party is responsible for the activism found in several civil rights notables who reign from a variety of backgrounds where each member has their very own distinct experience. These experiences shall never go unsung, but instead, enlighten future generations about the depths of this historical collective’s iconic presence.


Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1942 during World War II, the youngest child of Armelia Johnson and Walter Newton, a sharecropper and Baptist lay preacher. His parents named him after Huey Long, former Governor of Louisiana. Monroe was located in Louisiana's Ouachita Parish, which had a history of violence against blacks since Reconstruction. According to a 2015 report by the Equal Justice Institute, from 1877 to 1950, a total of 37 black people were documented as lynched in that parish. Most murders had taken place around the turn of the 20th century. [7] This was the fifth-highest total of lynchings of any county in the South. [8]

As a response to the violence, the Newton family migrated to Oakland, California, participating in the second wave of the Great Migration of African-Americans out of the South. [9] The Newton family was close-knit, but quite poor. They moved often within the San Francisco Bay Area during Newton's childhood. Despite this, Newton said he never went without food and shelter as a child. As a teenager, he was arrested several times for criminal offenses, including gun possession and vandalism at age 14. [10] Growing up in Oakland, Newton stated that he was "made to feel ashamed of being black." [9]

In his autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, he wrote,

During those long years in Oakland public schools, I did not have one teacher who taught me anything relevant to my own life or experience. Not one instructor ever awoke in me a desire to learn more or to question or to explore the worlds of literature, science, and history. All they did was try to rob me of the sense of my own uniqueness and worth, and in the process nearly killed my urge to inquire.

Newton graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1959, without being able to read, although he later taught himself The Republic by Plato was the first book he read. [11] Newton attended Merritt College, where he earned an Associate of Arts degree in 1966. After Newton taught himself to read, he started "questioning everything." In his autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, he states: "Most of all, I questioned what was happening in my own family and in the community around me." [12]

Newton continued his education, studying at San Francisco Law School, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma. He later continued his studies and in 1980, he completed a PhD in social philosophy at Santa Cruz. [13]

As a student of Merritt College in Oakland, Newton became involved in Bay Area politics. He joined the Afro-American Association (AAA), became a prominent member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity's Beta Tau chapter, and played a role in getting the first African-American history course adopted as part of the college's curriculum. Newton learned about black history from Donald Warden (who later would change his name to Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al-Mansour), the leader of the AAA. Later Newton concluded that Warden offered solutions that didn't work. In his autobiography, Newton says of Warden, "The mass media, the oppressors, give him public exposure for only one reason: he will lead the people away from the truth of their situation." [14] In college, Newton read the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Mao Zedong, Émile Durkheim, and Che Guevara.

During his time at Merritt College, he met Bobby Seale, and the two co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP) in October 1966. Based on a casual conversation, Seale became Chairman and Newton became Minister of Defense. [15] The Black Panther Party was an African-American left-wing organization advocating for the right of self-defense for black people in the United States. The Black Panther Party's beliefs were greatly influenced by Malcolm X. Newton stated: "Therefore, the words on this page cannot convey the effect that Malcolm has had on the Black Panther Party, although, as far as I am concerned, the testament to his life work." [16] The party achieved national and international renown through their deep involvement in the Black Power movement and the politics of the 1960s and 1970s. [17]

The party's political goals, including better housing, jobs, and education for African-Americans, were documented in their Ten-Point Program, a set of guidelines to the Black Panther Party's ideals and ways of operation. The group believed that violence—or the threat of it—might be needed to bring about social change. They sometimes made news with a show of force, as they did when they entered the California Legislature fully armed in order to protest a gun bill. [18] Many BPP members were accustomed to violence as they were from families that had left the South, where lynchings against blacks had caused thousands of deaths.

Newton adopted what he termed "revolutionary humanism." [19] Although he had previously attended Nation of Islam mosques, he wrote that "I have had enough of religion and could not bring myself to adopt another one. I needed a more concrete understanding of social conditions. References to God or Allah did not satisfy my stubborn thirst for answers." [20] Later, however, he stated that "As far as I am concerned, when all of the questions are not answered, when the extraordinary is not explained, when the unknown is not known, then there is room for God because the unexplained and the unknown is God." [21] Newton later decided to join a Christian church after the party disbanded during his marriage to Fredrika. [22] [23]

Newton would frequent pool halls, campuses, bars and other locations deep in the black community where people gathered in order to organize and recruit for the Panthers. While recruiting, Newton sought to educate those around him about the legality of self-defense. One of the reasons, he argued, why black people continued to be persecuted was their lack of knowledge of the social institutions that could be made to work in their favor. In Newton's autobiography Revolutionary Suicide, he writes, "Before I took Criminal Evidence in school, I had no idea what my rights were." [24] [25]

Newton also wrote in his autobiography, "I tried to transform many of the so-called criminal activities going on in the street into something political, although this had to be done gradually." He attempted to channel these "daily activities for survival" into significant community actions. Eventually, the illicit activities of a few members would be superimposed on the social program work performed by the Panthers, and this mischaracterization would lose them some support in both the white and black communities. [24] [25]

Newton and the Panthers started a number of social programs in Oakland, including founding the Oakland Community School, which provided high-level education to 150 children from impoverished urban neighborhoods. Other Panther programs included the Free Breakfast for Children Program and others that offered dances for teenagers and training in martial arts. According to Oakland County Supervisor John George: "Huey could take street-gang types and give them a social consciousness." [26]

In 1982, Newton was accused of embezzling $600,000 of state aid to the Panther-founded Oakland Community School. In the wake of the embezzlement charges, Newton disbanded the Black Panther Party. The embezzlement charges were dropped six years later in March 1989, after Newton pleaded no contest to a single allegation of cashing a $15,000 state check for personal use. He was sentenced to six months in jail and 18 months probation. [27]

Newton had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for repeatedly stabbing another man, Odell Lee, with a steak knife in mid-1964. He served six months in prison. [28] [29] By October 27–28, 1967, he was out celebrating the release from his probationary period. Just before dawn on October 28, Newton and a friend were pulled over by Oakland Police Department officer John Frey. Realizing who Newton was, Frey called for backup. After fellow officer Herbert Heanes arrived, shots were fired, and all three were wounded. [30]

Heanes testified that the shooting began after Newton was under arrest, and one witness testified that Newton shot Frey with Frey's own gun as they wrestled. [31] [32] No gun on either Frey or Newton was found. [32] Newton stated that Frey shot him first, which made him lose consciousness during the incident. [33] Frey was shot four times and died within the hour, while Heanes was left in serious condition with three bullet wounds. Black Panther David Hilliard took Newton to Oakland's Kaiser Hospital, where he was admitted with a bullet wound to the abdomen. Newton was soon handcuffed to his bed and arrested for Frey's killing. [34] A doctor, Thomas Finch, and nurse, Corrine Leonard, attended to Newton when he arrived at the hospital, and Finch stated that Newton was "agitated" when asking for treatment and that Newton was given a tranquilizer to calm him. [35]

Newton was convicted in September 1968 of voluntary manslaughter for the killing of Frey and was sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison. In May 1970, the California Appellate Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. After two subsequent trials ended in hung juries, the district attorney said he would not pursue a fourth trial, and the Alameda County Superior Court dismissed the charges. [36] In his autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, Newton wrote that Heanes and Frey were opposite each other and shooting in each other's direction during the shootout.

Hugh Pearson, in his book Shadow of the Panther, writes that Newton, while intoxicated, boasted about having willfully killed Frey. [37] Charles E. Jones, in the introduction to The Black Panther Party (Reconsidered), states that this claim has not been corroborated by others. [38]

Newton was arrested on the day of the shooting on October 28, 1967, and pled not guilty to the murder of officer John Frey. The Black Panther Party immediately went to work organizing a coalition to rally behind Newton and champion his release. In December the Peace and Freedom Party, a majority white anti-war political organization, joined with the Black Panther Party in support of Newton. [39] This alliance served the dual purpose of legitimizing Huey Newton’s cause while boosting the credibility of the party within the community of more radical activists. [40]

Under the leadership of the Black Panther Party and the Peace and Freedom Party, 5,000 protesters gathered in Oakland on Newton's birthday, February 17, 1968, in support of Newton. They garnered the attention of international news organizations, raising the profile of the party by astounding measures. The phrase “Free Huey!” was adopted as a rallying cry for the movement, and it was printed on buttons and t-shirts. Prominent Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver claimed the goal of the Free Huey! Campaign was to elevate Newton as a symbol of everything the Black Panther Party stood for, creating something of a living martyr. [41] The trial, which began on July 15, quickly ascended beyond the scope of Newton himself, evolving into a racially-charged political movement. Over the two year course of Newton’s original trial and two appeals, the coalition continued to offer its support until the charges were overturned and Newton was released on August 5, 1970.

In 1970, after his release from prison, Newton received an invitation to visit the People's Republic of China. On learning of Nixon's plan to visit China in 1972, Newton decided to visit before him. Newton made the trip in late September 1971 with fellow Panthers, Elaine Brown and Robert Bay, [42] and stayed for 10 days. [43] At every Chinese airport he landed in, Newton was greeted by thousands of people waving copies of the "Little Red Book" (officially titled Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung) and displaying signs that said "we support the Black Panther Party, down with US imperialism" or "we support the American people but the Nixon imperialist regime must be overthrown." [44]

During the trip, the Chinese arranged for him to meet and have dinner with an ambassador from North Korea, an ambassador from Tanzania, and delegations from both North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. [44] Newton was under the impression he was going to meet Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China, but instead had two meetings with the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, Zhou Enlai. One of these meetings also included Mao Zedong's wife Jiang Qing. Newton described China as "a free and liberated territory with a socialist government." [45]

Following Newton's Asian trip, the Black Panther Party began incorporating North Korea's Juche ideals into the party's ideology. [46] [47]

On August 6, 1974, Kathleen Smith, a 17-year-old Oakland native working as a prostitute, was shot [48] she died three months later. According to the prosecutor handling the case, [49] Newton shot Smith after a casual exchange on the street during which she referred to him as "Baby", [50] a childhood nickname he hated. [51]

Newton is also alleged to have assaulted his tailor, Preston Callins, after Callins called him "Baby." Newton posted bond after being arrested for pistol-whipping Callins, a crime for which he was later acquitted. [52] Newton was subsequently arrested a second time for the murder of Smith, but was able to post an additional $80,000 bond, thus securing his release until trial. [53]

Newton and his girlfriend (later his wife) Gwen Fontaine then fled to Havana, Cuba, where they lived until 1977, [54] which prevented further prosecution on the two charges. Elaine Brown took over as chairperson of the Black Panther Party in his absence. [55] Newton returned to the United States in 1977 to stand trial for the murder of Smith and the assault on Callins. [53]

In October 1977, three Black Panthers attempted to assassinate Crystal Gray, a key prosecution witness in Newton's upcoming trial who had been present the day of Kathleen Smith's murder. Unbeknownst to the assailants, they attacked the wrong house and the occupant returned fire. During the shootout one of the Panthers, Louis Johnson, was killed, and the other two assailants escaped. [56] One of the two surviving assassins, Flores Forbes, fled to Las Vegas, Nevada, with the help of Panther paramedic Nelson Malloy. [57]

In November 1977, Malloy was found by park rangers paralyzed from the waist down from bullet wounds to the back in a shallow grave in the desert outside of Las Vegas. According to Malloy, he and Forbes were ordered by "higher-ups" to be killed to eliminate any eyewitness accounts of the attempted murder of Crystal Gray. Malloy recovered from the assault and told police that fellow Panthers Rollin Reid and Allen Lewis were behind his attempted murder. [57] Newton denied any involvement or knowledge, and said that the events "might have been the result of overzealous party members." [49]

During Newton's trial for assaulting Preston Callins, Callins changed his testimony several times and eventually told the jury that he did not know who assaulted him. [53] Newton was acquitted of the assault in September 1978, but was convicted of illegal firearms possession. [58]

After the assassination attempt on Crystal Gray, she declined to testify against Newton. After two trials and two deadlocked juries, the prosecution decided not to retry Newton for Smith's murder. [59]

In January 1977, Jim Jones, leader of the Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ (commonly shortened to the Peoples Temple), visited Huey Newton in Havana, Cuba. [60]

That same year after Jones fled to "Jonestown," a commune he established in Guyana for his followers, Newton spoke to Temple members in Jonestown via telephone expressing support for Jones during one of the Temple's earliest "White Nights." [61] Newton's cousin, Stanley Clayton, was one of the few residents of Jonestown to escape the area before the 1978 mass murder of over 900 Temple members by Jones and his fanatics through forced suicide. [61]

Newton received a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1974. In 1978, while in prison, Newton met evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers after Newton applied to do a reading course with Trivers as part of a graduate degree in History of Consciousness. He and Trivers became close friends, and they published an analysis of the role of flight crew self-deception in the 1982 crash of Air Florida Flight 90. [62]

Newton earned a Ph.D. in the Social philosophy program of History of Consciousness from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1980. [63] [64] His doctoral dissertation entitled War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America "analyzes certain features of the Party and incidents that are significant in its development", [65] [63] among which are how the United States federal government responded to the BPP as well as to the assassinations of Fred Hampton, Bunchy Carter, and John Huggins. Sources for material used to support the dissertation include two federal civil rights lawsuits. One suit was against the FBI and other government officials, [66] while the other was initially against the City of Chicago. [67] [68]

Later, Newton's widow, Fredrika Newton, would discuss her husband's often-ignored academic research during C-SPAN's American Perspectives program on February 18, 2006. [69]


  • Huey Newton Speaks — oral history (Paredon Records, 1970)
  • Newton, Huey P. (1972), To Die For The People : The Writings Of Huey P. Newton, ISBN978-0394480855 , Franz Schurmann (Introduction) (Random House, 1972)
  • Newton, Huey P. Herman Blake, J. (2009), Revolutionary Suicide, ISBN978-0143105329 , with J. Herman Blake (Random House, 1973 republished in 1995 with introduction by Blake)
  • Newton, Huey P. Huggins, Ericka (1975), Insights and Poems, ISBN978-0872860797 , with Ericka Huggins (1975)
  • The Crash of Flight 90: Doomed by Self-Deception?, with Robert Trivers (Science Digest, 1982)
  • Newton, Huey P. (1996), War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America, ISBN978-0863162466 (Harlem River Press, 1996: the published version of Newton's PhD thesis)
  • Newton, Huey P. (2002), The Huey P. Newton Reader, ISBN978-1583224663 , edited by David Hilliard and Donald Weise (Seven Stories Press, 2002) , Black Panther Party, 1968, Oakland (pamphlet) , Awesome Records (June 1, 1993)
  • The original vision of the Black Panther Party, Black Panther Party (1973) (The Movement, 1968)
  • Newton, Huey (September 28, 2009), To Die for the People, ISBN978-0872865297 , edited by Toni Morrison, foreword by Elaine Brown (Random House, 1972 City Lights Publishers, 2009)
  • Newton, Huey P. (2019), The New Huey P. Newton Reader, ISBN9781609809003 , edited by David Hilliard and Donald Weise, introduction by Elaine Brown (Seven Stories Press, 2019)

On August 22, 1989, Newton was murdered at the corner of Tenth and Center Streets in the neighborhood of Lower Bottoms in West Oakland, California. Within days, Tyrone Robinson was arrested as a suspect he was on parole and admitted the murder to police, claiming self- defense — though police found no evidence that Newton was carrying a gun. [70] In 1991, Robinson was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to a prison term of 32 years to life. Robinson stated that his motive was to advance in the Black Guerrilla Family, a Marxist–Leninist narcotics prison gang, in order to get a crack franchise. [70] [71] Newton's funeral was held at Allen Temple Baptist Church, where he attended following his conversion. [22] Some 1,300 mourners were accommodated inside, and another 500 to 600 listened to the service from outside. Newton's achievements in civil rights and work on behalf of Black children and families with the Black Panther Party were celebrated. Newton's body was cremated, and his ashes were interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland. [72]

  • In the song "Changes" by Tupac Shakur, Newton is referenced in the lyrics "It's time to fight back, that's what Huey said. Two shots in the dark, now Huey's dead"— although the lyrics were mistaken about the number of times Newton was shot when he was murdered. [73]
  • In the song "Propaganda" (2000) by Dead Prez, on their album Let's Get Free, Newton is referenced in the lyrics "31 years ago I would've been a Panther. They killed Huey cause they knew he had the answer. The views that you see in the news is propaganda." As well as in the Outro of the song, which samples an interview with Newton:

[Outro: Huey P. Newton] Uh, we view each other with a great love and a great understanding. And that we try to expand this to the general black population, and also, people-- oppressed people all over the world. And, I think that we differ from some other groups simply because we understand the system better than most groups understand the system. And with this realization, we attempt to form a strong political base based in the community with the only strength that we have and that's the strength of a potentially destructive force if we don't get freedom. [74]

African American Museum and Library at Oakland Features Writer Clifford L. Williams Reading from His New Novel, “Pimps to Pops: A Journey to Fatherhood”, Aug. 24

On Saturday, August 24 at 1:00 p.m., Oakland-based journalist Clifford L. Williams will read excerpts from his new novel, “Pimps to Pops: A Journey to Fatherhood,” which explores how a conference on parenthood transformed boys to men. Williams, a father of four and grandfather to six, has worked extensively in the field of public, media, and community relations. He says, “My writings on fatherhood are based on personal experiences, as well as interviews and interactions with other father figures.”

Following the reading, Williams will engage in a question/answer session with the audience, then a book-signing. Copies of the book will be available for purchase on site.

What: “Pimps to Pops: A Journey to Fatherhood”
When: Saturday, August 24, 2019 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: AAMLO (659 14 th St. Oakland, CA 94612)

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations. The archives include over 160 collections documenting prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations. AAMLO has a unique non-circulating reference library for researchers, students and anyone interested in African American history, in addition to a second-floor museum that regularly hosts traveling and original exhibitions exp[loring the art, history and culture of African Americans. Highlights of AAMLO's collections include the Ronald V. Dellums Congressional Papers, the Oakland Post Photograph Collection documenting African American politicians, entertainers, athletes and community leaders from the Bay Area during the 1960s, '70s, and 80's, studio portraits of Oaklanders by the photographer E.F. Joseph, and the papers of Oakland cartoonist and illustrator Morrie Turner. Located at 659 14th St., AAMLO is housed in the former Charles S. Greene Library, a historic 1902 Carnegie building.

About OPL
The Oakland Public Library is a part of the City of Oakland in California and has been in existence since 1878. Locations include 16 neighborhood branches, a Main Library, a Second Start Adult Literacy Program, the Oakland Tool Lending Library, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO). On April 1, 2019, OPL expanded its hours for the first time since 2004 thanks to the passage of Measure D. Starting July 1, 2019, OPL will no longer collect fines for overdue materials. The Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow.

Oakland street renamed after Black Panther Party co-founder Dr. Huey Newton

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Ninth Street at the intersection of Mandela Parkway in Oakland has been renamed after the revolutionary founder of the Black Panther Party: Dr. Huey P. Newton Way.

On what would be his 79th birthday, a three-block stretch of 9th street in West Oakland now bears Huey P. Newton's name.

Fredrika Newton, founder of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation and Newton's widow, was filled with joy.

"I'm overwhelmed. It's our first tangible result of so much effort and not the last," said Newton.

"Huey made Oakland a place for revolutionary organizations to come together," says Xavier Buck, Deputy Director of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation.

Doctor Newton is one of the co-founders of the Black Panther Party. He was shot and killed at this street corner in 1989.

A small crowd was on hand for the ceremony and the unveiling that followed, which included city and community leaders and some former party members.

Acori Honzo handcrafts sculptures of Black heroes like Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X and Tupac Shakur.

For decades the narrative surrounding the Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland in 1966, has centered around images of party members in black leather jackets carrying guns for protection.

But what about the Black Panther's breakfast program that became the blueprint for the federal government's school breakfast program?

Why were those positive images of the party's history largely non-existent until now?

They only like to show sinister videos or pictures of us carrying guns. That was not what the Black Panther Party is about," said Newton.

"We fed (children), we clothed them, we made sure they were healthy with free clinics. That's based on love and those were the positive things of the Black Panther Party the media never showed," she said.

Newton, who spent part of his childhood in Oakland, went to college in the Bay Area, earning his Ph. D. from the UC Santa Cruz in 1980. He co-founded the Black Panther Party in response to incidents of police brutality and racism. He advocated for Black self-

Under Newton's leadership, the party established numerous community support programs, medical clinics, food banks, and a newspaper.

"Decent housing, quality education, access to health care, all the things the current black lives matter movement and people out here in the bay area support, they were doing that back in the 60s," says Buck, who spoke at the event.

The street renaming honoring Newton comes less than a week after the release of the film "Judas and the Black Messiah" featuring the life, and killing by law enforcement, of Chairman Fred Hampton.

Hampton led the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party until he was killed by police in 1969.

Daniel Kaluuya of "Get Out" fame plays Hampton in the movie.

He recently appeared on Good Morning America and discussed the push to rewrite the narrative of the party's legacy.

The movie "articulates what a lot of people are feeling in this country in the moment. And seeing the Black Panther Party and Chairman Fred Hampton had the ideas and philosophies and strategies in order to help the Black community," Kaluuya said to GMA's Robin

Chairman Fred Hampton Junior made the trip from Chicago for the renaming in a show of solidarity.

"Power to the people. Long live Minister Huey P. Newton. Freedom All," Hampton shouted to the crowd.

Glover: "The history of the Black Panther Party is Oakland history and for so long that's been denied. And now it can't be. What does that mean to you?"

Newton: "It means everything to me. Now children will grow up to see images that look like them to give them hope to know that they too can make a difference, they too can make a change in their community."

Two more events are scheduled in Oakland to honor Newton at the end of February.

On October 24, a bronze bust of Huey P. Newton will be unveiled on a granite slab at the intersection of Dr. Huey P. Newton Way and Mandela Parkway.

Part Of Ninth Street In West Oakland Renamed For Black Panther Leader Huey P. Newton

OAKLAND (BCN/CBS SF) — A three-block stretch of a West Oakland street was renamed Wednesday after the co-founder of the Black Panther Party Huey P. Newton.

The street sign for Dr. Huey P. Newton Way, in honor of the late activist, was unveiled on Ninth Street near Mandela Parkway.

Numerous people attended the gathering including Newton’s widow Fredrika Newton and newly-elected Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife.

“This place is both darkness and light,” Fredrika Newton told a crowd of perhaps 100 people who gathered to see the unveiling.

Huey Newton took his last breath nearby in 1989. He was born on this day in 1942.

Fredrika Newton is now the president of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, which seeks to preserve and promote the history, ideals, and legacy of the Black Panther Party.

She initiated Wednesday’s street-naming, which was carried forward to the City Council.

In October, for the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party, a bronze bust of Huey Newton will be unveiled at the head of the street that was named for him Wednesday morning.

Work is also underway to create a Black Panther Party monument in Oakland like the Rosie the Riveter monument in Richmond. The foundation has received $100,000 per year for two years toward the monument, a museum and the archival of The Black Panther newspaper, the foundation announced in June.

“This is a very special holiday,” Fife said, and challenged the crowd to work for change in the city.

The bronze of Newton is being created by sculptor Dana King.

“The Panthers were about people,” King said on Wednesday. “Huey is coming home for the people,” she said.

The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 in Oakland by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.

Newton was fatally shot by Tyrone Robinson, a member of the group Black Guerilla Family. Robinson was convicted of murder in 1991 and sentenced to 32 years in prison.

FEB 15 Fredrika Newton & DJ Lynnée Denise: On Healing and Survival

Join Fredrika Newton in conversation with DJ scholar Lynnee Denise on love, survival, and healing. Ms. Newton is the thought partner and widow of Dr. Huey P. Newton, one of the most influential revolutionaries of the 20th century. The conversation touches on her challenges, her healing, and her triumphs as a complex human being living within her own unique circumstances. The conversation opens with a musical essay and archival slideshow curated by DJ Lynnée Denise, archivist Lisbet Tellefsen, and MATATU art director Julie Munsayac.

This program is presented in collaboration with the de Young Museum and the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation in support of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983.

Fredrika Newton was introduced to the young political icon, Dr. Huey P. Newton, in 1970 by her mother, Arlene Slaughter, a housing activist and real estate agent for the Black Panther Party. Soon after their meeting, Newton elected to join the Black Panther Party where she served as a teacher in the Samuel Napier Youth Institute, helped establish the George Jackson Free Medical Clinic, and briefly worked on the Black Panther Party Newspaper. She and Dr.Newton were married several years later and lived together until he was killed in 1989. As the president of the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, which she co-founded with David Hilliard, Newton works to preserve and promulgate the history, ideals, and legacy of Dr. Newton and the Black Panther Party. Newton is currently working with the Oakland Mayor’s Office towards a prominently placed historical monument, a series of plaques located throughout the city, and a touring (and permanent) museum to commemorate the Black Panther Party’s historical legacy.

Lynnée Denise’s work on DJ Scholarship has been featured at prestigious institutions such as the Broad Museum, the Tate Modern, Savvy Contemporary Gallery Berlin, Goldsmiths University of London, Iziko South African Museum, Stanford, Yale, NYU, and Princeton University. Her writing has been featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Black Scholar Journal, The Journal of Popular Music Studies, and as part of anthologies including Women Who Rock, and Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity. She’s was a lecturer at California State University’s Pan African Studies Department and the Chicano Studies Department for four academic years 2015–2019.

Watch the video: Fred Hampton interview - October 9th 1969 old (June 2022).


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