Sunday, May 28, 2017
By Kiilu Nyasha (a.k.a. Pat Gallyot)
This year of 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, October 1966, in Oakland, California.
In 1968, prior to joining the Party, I was employed by Community Progress, Inc. (CPI), the nation’s pilot program of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” also euphemistically called “The Great Society.”
I became one of the “Field Trainers” deployed in each of the seven impoverished neighborhoods of New Haven, Conn. Assigned to the predominately Black area of Newhallville, I worked at the Teen Center, a government facility that eventually became the cite for the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program; launched by a town hall meeting and a popular vote.
Monday, February 13, 2017
IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT -- "IOLA," PRINCESS OF THE PRESS & Feminist Crusader for Equality and Justice, by Kiilu Nyasha
A tireless champion of her people, Ida B. Wells was the first of eight children born to Jim and Elizabeth Wells in Mississippi in 1862, six months before chattel slavery was ended with the Emancipation Proclamation.
Her parents, who had been slaves, were able to support their children because Elizabeth was an excellent cook and Jim a skilled carpenter. But when Ida was only 16, her parents and youngest sibling died of Yellow Fever during an epidemic. In keeping with the strength and fortitude she demonstrated throughout her remarkable life, Ida took responsibility for raising her six younger siblings with her grandmother’s help. Educated at nearby Rust College, a school run by white missionaries, Ida was forced to drop out; she got a full-time teaching job by lying about her age, and spent weekends washing, ironing and cooking for her large family.
Wells eventually moved to Memphis, Tenn., where she taught school in a small town called Woodstock and continued her education by attending Fisk University and Lemoyne Institute during the summers.
Ida’s career as a writer was sparked by an incident that occurred in 1884, while riding a train back to her job in Woodstock. Wells was asked by the conductor to move from her seat in the ladies' car into the smoking car.
"I refused," she later wrote, describing how the conductor tried to drag her out of the seat: "the moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand. I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn’t try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggage man and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out."
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Women of the Black Panther Party Reflect on Today's Struggle, Staying Engaged and Why Trump's Win Might be a Good Thing
The Black Panther Party just closed out its 50th anniversary year. On this occasion, the Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project spoke with Panther women about leadership, electoral politics and what we should be doing today.
The year 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party (BPP). Facing repression and at great sacrifice, more than 5,000 mostly young Black people joined the BPP between the 1960s and ‘70s to work for “land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.” They built institutions, ran electoral campaigns, created social programs, transformed culture and tried to create a framework of justice that would impact oppressed people worldwide.
One often-overlooked component of the Panthers was the leadership of women. At one point, women made up the majority of the BPP’s membership but their contributions are frequently written out of history.
We at the Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project believe there is value in amplifying the voices of Black women who served on the front lines of the BPP. We asked former members of the now-defunct organization to provide guideposts for activists responding to this political moment and to share their thoughts about how Donald Trump’s election could impact communities of color.