Black Panther founder to speak on state of civil rights

By Dwight Lacy

Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale led a group of 30 fully-armed activists into the California General Assembly in May 1967 in opposition of legislation targeting the party that would prohibit the carrying of firearms.

The same man who helped start the controversial group dedicated to advancing black people will be speaking tonight at 7 in the Student Center Grand Ballroom. Seale will share his thoughts on the civil rights movement and where American society stands today, said Valeashia Smith, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center, which is hosting the event.

“Bobby Seale is an icon in the history of the civil rights movement,” Smith said. “It’s important that students understand who he is, the importance of the Black Panther Party and the impact they have on society today.”

Seale was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party in October of 1966 and is one of its last surviving original leaders.

After the assassination of black leader Malcolm X and at the height of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., Seale helped develop an armed organization — separating itself from non-violent efforts of the time — that promoted social change and civil rights for blacks, according to the party Web site (

Seale, who resigned as chairman of the Black Panther Party in 1974, according to his Web site (, has served as the community liaison with the Department of African and African-American Studies at Temple University and is the author of three books including two memoirs about his experiences as a Black Panther, “Seize the Time” (1970) and “A Lonely Rage” (1978).

The event, “An evening with Bobby Seale,” is free and open to the public.

“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.”