(Seattle, Washington) About 400 people attended a reunion of Black Panther Party members this past weekend at Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, and Garfield Community Center. They came to participate in teach-ins, hear speeches, watch films, and listen to music. Members and former members came to trade war stories, to proudly glorify their violent history, and to keep the 'movement' alive. Shamseddin Williams, the son of a Seattle party member, and Sylva Jones, a legal-aid worker, organized the event with thinly-veiled intentions of recruiting impressionable youngsters.
Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Panthers, was there and called the Seattle chapter of the party "probably the most dynamic and most profound" because of its humanitarian work. He cited examples including: founding a food and clothing bank; giving free rides for inmate visitation; providing summer schools for revolutionary thought and black struggles; and training themselves to use pesticides to kill roaches. Seale also praised the 1999 riots in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, stating:
"I was hoping this new movement would start. That's what we need. We need another high-profile, progressive movement."
Unfortunately, Seale didn't compare notes with former Panther party captain Aaron Dixon, who stated
"We are not here to reorganize the Black Panthers, let's be clear about this -- we're too old and don't have the energy," said Dixon, 56, a father of four girls. "We're here to share our knowledge and our methodology and with your exuberance, we can then look forward."
Nonetheless, they are hoping that young people get mentored and tutored in anti-colonialism, the Civil War, and slave revolts.
With respect to the violent past of the Black Panthers, former captain Dixon stated that the reason the Panthers shot up police/fire stations and committed arson was to prevent race riots. By "ambushing" the police and fire departments, individual white people were not attacked so a race riot was prevented. Apparently, there are those that believe, through this odd rationalization, that the Black Panthers were doing a public service.
My take is that the Black Panthers are in an alternate universe. Teaching the young about slave revolts while justifying attacks on police and fire stations as a public service will probably not benefit society.
Companion post at Interested-Participant.