On Tuesday, February 25, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Black Panther Party members Henry “Hank” Jones and Gene Washington will speak on what they feel is the misunderstood history of the Black Panther movement and the free programs the movement provided which benefited local communities.
Jones had been a community organizer before he joined the Black Panther Party in San Francisco/Oakland. Washington joined the party in 1970 and worked with the liberation schools and black student unions in south L.A. They believed in the Panthers’ social programs; the Free Children’s Breakfast Program (something similar now exists in schools all around the nation), free medical clinics, free schooling, free clothing, and “decent” housing, which were all part of the Black Panther’s Ten Point Plan.
The Black Panther Party (BPP), originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a revolutionary political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California. The party was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982, with chapters in numerous major cities, and international chapters in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, and in Algeria from 1969 to 1972.
At its inception on October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party’s core practice was its armed citizens’ patrols (“copwatching”) to monitor the behavior of officers of the Oakland Police Department and challenge what they saw as police brutality in the city.
In 1969, a variety of community social programs became a core activity.
The Party instituted the Free Breakfast for Children Programs to address what it viewed as “food injustice,” and community health clinics for education and treatment of diseases including sickle cell anemia, tuberculosis, and later, HIV/AIDS.
The Party’s history is controversial. Scholars have characterized the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organization of the late 1960s, and “the strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American imperialism”.
Other commentators have described the Party as more criminal than political, characterized by “defiant posturing over substance”.
This event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Hastings Ranch Branch Library, 3325 E. Orange Grove Blvd. For more information call (626) 744-7262 or visit www.cityofpasadena.net/library.