Bobby Seale is the founding chairman and national organizer for the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and ‘70s, which he and Huey P. Newton formed as a response to the police brutality in Oakland’s poor Black communities. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” he will share his insights on his experience with social movements then and his thoughts on social movements now, especially in light of the recent verdict of the Trayvon Martin case, attacks on ethnic studies programs and the minimum wage victory led by students and workers in San José.
About Bobby Seale: As a student at Merritt College in Oakland, California in 1962, Bobby Seale was inspired to join the Afro-American Association and launch his own research into the history of Black America and the larger civil rights movement. In 1966, Bobby Seale along with Huey P. Newton led the formation of the Black Panther Party, beginning with organizing the community against police brutality and institutionalized racism. In addition to their programs for self-defense, the Black Panthers ran medical clinics and provided free food to school children. The Panthers were successful in expanding across the United States, reaching tens of thousands of diverse members during the Black Power advocacy period. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, denounced the Black Panthers as “the greatest threat to internal security of the country,” and attempted to dismantle the organization through counter-intelligence measures. Over the last few decades, Bobby Seale has continued to be a progressive social activist, speaking at various universities across the nation on social justice and contributing to nonprofit organizations and educational programs that help low-income communities.