Black Panthers co-founder to visit UK

By D.J. Lacy

Bobby Seale marched with 30 armed activists into the California legislature on May 2, 1967. They proclaimed the right to bear arms in protest of the Mulford Act, which called for a ban on the public display of loaded firearms.

The bill became law, but in the process, Seale and the Black Panther Party started gaining national prominence.

Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, will be in the Student Center Grand Ballroom tonight at 7, for a discussion titled “An Evening with Bobby Seale.” It is free and open to the public.

“Bobby Seale is an icon in the history of the civil rights movement,” said Veleashia Smith, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center, which is hosting the event. “It’s important that students understand who he is, the importance of the Black Panther Party and the impact they have on society today.”

Smith said that she expects Seale to speak on his “thoughts of the civil rights movement and where we are today.”

“Come because you don’t know,” said Valerie Clay, a recent UK graduate and head of public relations at the MLK Cultural Center. “It’s a chance for the campus to learn about the true workings of the Black Panther Party because there are misconceptions of what they stood for.”

The Black Panther Party, which operated on a 10-point program, emerged from Oakland, Calif., in the mid 1960s, in the midst of the Vietnam War and less than two years after the assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X.

Seale was one of the original leaders of the party, which aimed to combat police brutality, establish leadership in black communities and reverse the vicious cycles of poverty and oppression in America.

“I researched the Black Panthers and the 10 points,” said Geoffrey Griggs, an agricultural communications sophomore who plans to attend the event. “Many of the problems they demanded to address then are still problems now.”

The organization’s 10 demands included “decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings,” “decent education for our people,” “free health care for all black and oppressed people,” and “an immediate end to all wars of aggression,” according to

The Black Panthers protested when those goals were in danger, as they did in 1967 in the California General Assembly and again in 1968 with Vietnam War protesters at the Chicago Democratic National Convention. Seale was arrested during that protest and became one of the “Chicago Eight,” who were put on trial for conspiracy to incite a riot, and in 1970 Seale was tried for the murder of a fellow Black Panther. All of the charges in both cases were eventually dropped.

But the organization also worked within the community and implemented a free breakfast program at an Oakland church, according to

Tonight’s event was originally scheduled for Feb. 21 but was postponed because of inclement weather.