Black Panthers co-founder Seale at DSU

 

DOVER — Delaware State University students had a chance to be in the presence of a living part of American history Thursday afternoon.

Robert George “Bobby” Seale, was the co-founder of the Black Panther Party along with Huey P. Newton.

About 70 students were all ears, as Mr. Seale spoke about the origins of the Black Panther Party.

“This is a teachable moment at Delaware State University,” said Dr. Steven Marshall, dean of DSU’s, college of arts, humanities and social sciences.

“We want to continue to promote that for our students, so outside the classrooms they are allowed to see it, hear it and for occasions like this, to actually feel it.”

In October 1966, Mr. Seale and Mr. Newton founded the Black Panthers with a 10-point platform for addressing racial and economic inequality in America.

Within two years, the party had a national membership of 5,000 and received international attention for its militant approach to effecting change.

Mr. Seale briefly spoke on the events that helped lead up to the formation of the Black Panthers Party.

In the early 1960s he worked on the Gemini missile program and was a part-time student majoring in engineering design at Merritt College in Oakland, California.

Mr. Seale said his life changed in 1962 when he heard Dr. Martin Luther King speak for the first time.

“He was talking about change,” Mr. Seale said. “There I was sitting in the auditorium, one of 7,000 people, and he talked about how these different companies across America didn’t hire black people.”

“He finally gets on the bread companies in the San Francisco. He said all across America the Wonder Bread companies won’t hire people of color and I think we’re going to have to boycott them.”

We’re going to boycott them so consistently that we’re going to make Wonder Bread wonder where the money went,” he said.

“That really inspired me.”

The imprisonment of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the growth of the civil rights movement caused Mr. Seale to quit his job.

He then went on to work in the community and created a youth jobs program in North Richmond, Calif.

“That’s around the time when Huey and I started to get together to form the Black Panther Party,” Mr. Seale said.

“The goal was to organize programs to unify people in the community and unify the vote to change the legislation that perpetuates institutionalized racism.

He said the Black Panther Party offered free breakfast programs and free preventive medical health care, including sickle cell and anemia testing.

Mr. Seale continues to speak on his involvement with the Black Panthers and is an advocate for civil rights and social change.

Dr. Harry Williams, president of DSU said Mr. Seale’s words should encourage the students moving forward.

“Just imagine 50 years ago, Mr. Bobby Seal was 19 years old just like you,” Dr. Williams said.

“He did something about what was happening and he organized a powerful organization that provided positive energy within the black community.”

“It wasn’t focused on fighting or carrying guns,” he added. “It was about giving back to the community and having pride associated with that.”

He said when people have the opportunity to witness someone that lived through difficult times and overcome them it should be used as motivation moving forward.

Brandon Barnes, a senior at DSU majoring in political science, shared the same sentiment.

“The feeling was surreal,” Mr. Barnes said. “Having an icon come here to be in our presence to share history is a wonderful feeling.”

“I think people should go back and do their homework on the Black Panther history. I think we can take what they did and apply that to what’s happening today with the Black Lives Matter moves movement. “

He said movements like Black Lives Matter is important and brings awareness to society.

“Action must be implemented to achieve ones ultimate goal,” Mr. Barnes said. “This principle can be learned from the Black Panther movement. A movement requires sacrifice.”

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