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On Saturday, September 3, there was an event celebrating the unity, love, and peace of two organizations called the Black Panthers and the Brown Berets.
The Black Panther Party is a political operation that was founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in 1966. They were challenged by the police brutality against African Americans and the discrimination Black people faced during those times and even now. Their uniforms consist of wearing black leather and black berets jackets and the organization consisted of organized armed citizen patrols of Oakland and other U.S. cities.
They peaked in 1968 when they recruited about 2,000 new members. Slowly the operation’s members started declining because of international tension, Federal Bureau Investigation of security intelligence activities aimed at weakening the operations, and deadly shootouts. The Black Panthers were part of an even bigger movement called the Black Power Movement, which emphasized Black pride, community control, and unification for civil rights. Although the Black Panthers were portrayed as a gang their leadership saw the organization as a political party whose goal was to get more African Americans elected to political offices, but they were unsuccessful till this point. By the early 1970s, FBI security intelligence efforts, criminal activities, and an internal rift between group members weakened the party as a political impact.
The Brown Berets were founded in Los Angeles by Chicano Youth in 1967, they modeled themselves after the Black Panther Party. The Brown Berets mostly concentrated on battling police brutality and fighting racism and they demanded education, jobs, and housing equality. In 1969, there were 29 chapters, mostly in California and n Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexican, Michigan, Washington, and Texas. The Brown Berets were dispersed by Prime Minister David Sanchez in 1972, and a total of 36 chapters had been founded first and foremost by colleges and universities.
Back in 1967, the YCCA opened the Piranya Coffee House as a site from which to promote community consciousness and recruit members. The YCCA adopted a brown beret as a part of its uniform and thus became known as the Brown Berets. Emphasizing the right of self-determination and defense against aggression, the Brown Berets considered themselves nationalists— that is, they identified themselves first and foremost as Chicanos and rejected the idea that they should adjust their traditions and culture to assimilate (blend in) with the mainstream U.S. culture. They had a formal code of conduct and ethics.
The event on Saturday, September 3, was about celebrating the unity between these two groups who had more in common than they originally believed. The event had lots of members from each community along with the White Panther’s leader joining the celebration as well. If you do not know who the White Panthers are, they are an organization similar to the Black Panthers. They helped support the Black Panthers and helped promote the anti-war movement and decriminalize marijuana. Later on, the White Panthers would rebrand themselves as the Rainbow People’s Party.
As we interview some of the important members of the community, we later learn about the history of what these members personally faced and what they would do to change the community to better it for the next generation. Many wise words were given, advice was taken, and with many words exchanged they all believed that what it takes to be a good leader is to listen to your people, your education is what’s important, especially in a world of ignorance, stand up for others who need a voice, come out to support your community and talk to elders, be involved, have humility and help others, be patient, as well as show you care bout what you believe in, care enough to show up and make the change you want to see in the community. With food being shared, handing out bread and milk for people to take home, music playing, and seeing everyone who came to the event talk and shares their lives it shows how much the community is stronger together than they are alone.
By: Zaylah De La Torre
History: Black Panthers
Washington.edu: Mapping American Social Movements Project – Brown Beret Chapters 1969-1972
ATI: Inside The Little-Known History Of The White Panther Party By
Inset Image Courtesy of David Prasad’s of Flickr – Creative Commons License
Courtesy of ann harkness‘ of Flickr – Creative Commons License