The Bank of America Auditorium was filled well past its 350-seat capacity as the three iconic figures stood in front of students and faculty, vividly detailing their experiences during their time in the party.
The Party was co-founded by Seale, along with Huey P. Newton, on October 15, 1966 in Oakland, Calif. The vision was to protect African Americans from acts of police brutality and the violation of other civil rights laws. Cleaver served as the communications secretary, spokesperson and press secretary, while Brown co-founded his own Chicago chapter of the party in late 1967.
Brown’s PowerPoint presentation dispelled a few of the many myths that surrounded the creation of the Black Panthers and what they stood for. One of the things he disclosed was that the black panther used in the logo of his wing of the party was taken from Clark Atlanta University’s logo.
Brown emphasized, to students in particular, the importance of having a “correct interpretation of history.” He said it was important to properly document history moving forward so it can be told correctly, and avoid being “whited out” of history like the Panthers.
“You are students, you have an obligation to know history, and you have an obligation to make history,” Brown said. “Do not make the mistakes Kwame (Ture) and I did, we made history, but we did not write history.”
Unity also was a focal point by Cleaver, especially after a question was posed about leadership, and how students can be more effective in protest in current events today.
“You can’t be a leader by yourself,” she Cleaver. “You can be a failure by yourself, but you cannot lead by yourself, that is important to remember.”
Seale said he became interested in the party after looking back at the history of how African Americans had been treated in this country. He also pointed to slave rebellions and the need to be part of the political process to make change happen in America. Seale encouraged students to be more involved in acts of protest and other issues that impact all facets of the black community if they wish to improve as leaders and spark change
“You have got to be involved,” Seale said. “And when you get involved, get involved with the most pressing issues that effects everybody’s life.”
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