Walking in the footsteps of the Black Panther Party | KALW

Walking in the footsteps of the Black Panther Party

Oct 13, 2016

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The organization was created by two students at Merritt College in Oakland — Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale — who decried police brutality and economic exploitation.

The group came to be known simply as the Black Panthers, and included more than 5,000 members across the country at its peak. Beret wearing Panthers drew media attention for legally carrying weapons openly in shows of force against authority, even on the floor of the California State Legislature. They organized health clinics and started a popular program providing free breakfasts for kids. And they were declared an "enemy of the U.S. government" by the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover.

To remember some of the legacy of the Black Panthers, we've partnered with the audio tour company Detour to bring you to the streets of northwest Oakland, where Newton and Seale started the party. We’ll join Oakland resident Davin Anthony Thompson, also known as 'Do DAT' at the corner of Market and 54th near Martin Luther King Jr. Way, to get a sense of what it was like back when the Black Panthers were an active part of the civil rights movement.

Do D.A.T: Now imagine Bobby bringing a copy of the party's program, down the stairs, and out to this pole. Fresh ink, damp on the sheet. Imagining him nailing it to this post in full view of the intersection of where those kids got killed. This is how the Black Panthers started. They were going to change the world.

This excerpt from the Oakland-based audio tour about the Black Panthers has been repurposed with permission from Detour. You can take the extended tour yourself, right where the Black Panthers once walked, by downloading it on your phone.