Black Panther Party Co-Founder to Speak at Madison College
Setting the Record Straight
|Bobby Seale will speak as a Madison College
Talks guest speaker on Tuesday, February 25, 6
p.m., in the Mitby Theater on the Truax campus.It
is a free event, but tickets are required.
The police officer got in his squad car and left.
“40-50 people were all over the sidewalk,” Seale said. “I said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Bobby Seale. I’m chairman of a new organization called The
Black Panther Party for Self Defense. This is my friend Huey Newton and he is our minister of defense. He was the one reciting the law here to the cop. He’s in law
school. We’re getting ready to have a new organization here in town in Oakland, Berkley and other places. We’re going to organize a political electoral machine. We’
re going to get registered to vote and we are going to take over some political power seats so that we can get our fair share of equity out of all of the multi-millions of
dollars that city council has and manages, that the county board of supervisors has and manages. We need the right to fair shares of equality and we have to have
those political power seats to see to it that we as an oppressed people in our community get that.’ That’s what I told the people. My objective was not just to patrol
the police and say we did a good job. My objective was to capture the imagination of the people so I could organize them into a political electoral machine with
voting registration and the whole gauntlet.”
While The Black Panther Party had been born in October 1966, it was given life on that street in Oakland in January 1967. The Black Panthers conducted 7-8 more
patrols and garnered a lot of attention while exercising their legal rights. This did not sit well with the political establishment. And so the Mulford Act was proposed
to make the Black Panther’s armed monitoring illegal. The bill was under consideration in the State Capitol in Sacramento in May 1967. The Black Panthers decided
to protest militantly, but legally. Seale led an armed delegation to the State Capitol and was later arrested for it and jailed.
Seale served five months of a six month sentence, getting out for good behavior. He lost his job with the city of Oakland. And he began to lose his reputation on a
“Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, called us hoodlums,” Seale said. “We weren’t hoodlums. When I read that crap 2-3 weeks later after I led an armed
delegation to the California State Legislature, I said, ‘Hoodlums? This son-of-a-b***h called me a hoodlum. I worked at the Gemini missile program. What the hell is he
talking about? I’ve helped B-52 bombers carrying nuclear weapons above the ground in the U.S. Air Force. I’m not a hoodlum. I’ve got skills, professions, etc. And I’
m a young man and I have all of this stuff, stuff to repair a high-performance aircraft.”
After Seale was released from jail, he continued to lead and organize through The Black Panther Party, a party he intended to use to gain political power. And then
April 1968 turned the world upside down.
“When the people start rioting between the time that Dr. King is murdered, killed, assassinated, April 4, 1968 and Nixon is elected in November, that is seven
months,” Seale said. “Imagine, I have 400 members up and down the West Coast prior to Dr. King getting killed and seven months later when Nixon is elected
president, I have 5,000 members in chapters and branches all across the country.”
The political tension was ramping up. In July 1968, Seale was arrested and accused of helping to incite the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
“J. Edgar Hoover first announced in December 1968, before Nixon was sworn in, on national television that ‘the Black Panther Party was a threat to the internal
security of America,’” Seale said. “And I’m saying to myself, ‘This son-of-a-bitch is getting ready to attack us.’ I didn’t take that lightly. In my city, someone is going to
Seale decided that the Black Panther Party needed to take measures. He held a series of retreats in Oakland.
“I said to all those up and down the West Coast, ‘Get your asses in here,’” Seale said. “’You’re going to be here for 8-10 days.’ The first retreat I had was in
December. I called a retreat. I told every chapter and branch that I had developed and organized across the country, ‘I want no less than two people and as many as
five to be out here 1-2 weeks. You’re going to democratize the party newspaper. You’re going to develop the Ministry of Information bulletin. You’re going to learn
how to fortify your offices. Get your asses out here. Get ready. You’re going to sleep on floors with sleeping bags. You’re going to be here and go to meetings and
sessions. We’re going to cook food for everyone to eat. Get out here.’ And I had this big retreat right there in December for almost two weeks. And this was all
preceding Christmas. I had to do that. I taught them how to fortify their offices, putting sandbags up to the windowsills. I did all of that. I told all of these party
members. People run around here and Huey writing six years later after he got out of jail talking about how he started everything. Bulls**t. You have to understand
In May 1969, several members of the New Haven Black Panther Party were accused of murdering one of their members whom they thought was a police informant.
Seale was implicated. He went on to stand trial in 1970 and a mistrial was declared after the jury hung at 11 to 1 to acquit Seale. Eventually he was cleared of
conspiracy to riot charges brought against him for the 1968 Chicago riots.
And on December 4, 1969, Freddie Hampton and Mark Clark of the Chicago Black Panther Party were murdered in their home by law enforcement.
Seale insisted that he started The Black Panther Party as a political party and it was Huey Newton who stoked the revolutionary brand.
“I created the Black Panther Party,” Seale insisted. “Later, about 5-6 years later, Huey tried to write his dumb book. He had the audacity to name something
‘Revolutionary Suicide.’ But he came out of jail before I came out of jail, over a year before I go out. He was trying to write a book. And he put in his book that he
started everything. He’s a liar. He’s an outright liar. He did not start it. I’m the one who started everything.”
In Seale’s view, his intent was primarily mainstream, while Newton and others took a more revolutionary — and criminal — track.
“Now Huey was a cheap little criminal in law school,” Seale said. “And I had a big problem with him during the early days when he started hanging around me and
announcing that s**t. I told him one time, ‘Don’t even come around me no more, robbing a bank.’ Huey said to me, ‘I told you we need to rob this bank for $500,000.’ I
said, ‘F**k that. Are you out of your mind? Huey, I told you over, over and over, we are going for the political seats so we can manage the $3-400 million in the city
Part 3 of 3
By Jonathan Gramling
Editor’s note – Any material in this series of articles may not be reproduced, copied or used in whole or in part
without the expressed, written consent of Bobby Seale.
Who exactly were the Black Panthers? Was their reputation deserved or was it an effort by the FBI COINTELPRO
to discredit the organization and give it ‘justification’ for assassinating its leadership? The history of the Black
Panther Party and its leadership is much simpler as well as complex than that. And Bobby Seale is on a
mission to make the record straight.
In January 1967, the newly-formed Black Panther Party did its first legally-armed street patrol to observe police
behavior in Oakland. They had begun to observe a lone police officer and a crowd had begun to form as the
police officer began to notice their armed presence. The officer told them they had no right to monitor his
activities. The Panthers, who had researched their legal rights, disagreed.
“The tall Black guy was scratching his head saying, ‘What kind of Negroes are these,’ Seale said about a
member of the crowd that had gathered. “ It was a disciplined group with our little uniforms, blue shirts and
blue blouse for the female. Black and blue were our colors. I did all of that stuff. I wrote everything down. Huey
didn’t write anything down except his little points about researching the law. With that little act that night, that
cop turned around and he said, ‘Is it loaded?’ Huey jacked around his shotgun pointed at the ground and said, ‘If
I knew it’s loaded, it’s good enough.’ Then the other young people pointed their rifles to the ground because I
trained them. And they jacked a round into the chamber. Remember, you cannot ride in the car with a live round
in the chamber of a rifle or a shotgun. In the penal code, it did not apply to a handgun. It was a fish & game code
law. While riding in the car, there were no rounds in the chamber allowed. So that’s when they pumped it into
the chamber. When the cop saw all of this, he was shocked. He looked to his right and there were 14 of us. And
he walked over to get his arrestee standing at the back of the car, opened the back door, gets his arrestee in,
shuts two doors and as he is getting ready to go around the back of the trunk of his car, he stopped and looked
at a woman with some earrings she had on for whatever reason were twinkling in the night life.”
council and also get some county seats because the county seats manage more
than the city council. It’s stupid running around here talking about robbing a bank.
Don’t even come around me no more Huey, F**k you man.’ And I walked off.”
Seale is bound and determined to set the public record straight about himself
personally and about the Black Panther Party. While some say that Huey Newton was
the co-founder and leader of The Black Panther Party, Seale begs to differ.
“I have all of this stuff in my screen play,” Seale said. “All of this other stuff that
people are trying to do a movie on us and me is bullcrap. I already know it because I’
ve been through a problem with most of these people. But this is my story and my
screen play that I have copyrighted that belongs to me. As other idiots out here —
even former party members — try to hustle a dollar to steal my rights. I am putting
myself up to do my feature film on my story because it is a long story.”
No matter who gets credit, The Black Panther Party left an indelible mark on civil
rights and American history. And Bobby Seale was in the nexus of it all.