From Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter: The fight for equality continues
In 1967, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense walked into the California state capitol, armed. Dr. Saturu Ned, then known as James Mott, followed them inside.
"We walked onto the floor of the senate and they were all under their desk right and they weren’t there to do anybody no harm. They were there to read the statement that talked about our constitutional rights to defend our community," says original Panther, Dr. Saturu Ned.
It was the first of many public actions with the Black Panther Party for Saturu, but not the last.
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was born in Oakland in 1966 to police the police.
An extension of the Civil Rights movement, the Party members fought for freedom.
"The idea was taking it a step forward and the concept came out," says Dr. Ned, "What do we really need? Black Power."
Saturu helped create 63 surivial programs based on the 10 point platform and program to build a foundation of stability for black Americans.
"The black panther party refuses to let you get slaughtered," Bobby Seale said this in 68 at the memorial service for a young Black Panther.
It was his death, the death of Lil Bobby Hutton in 68, that amplified the focus on police brutality.
Decades later a new movement would spring up, sparked by the death of yet another young black man that would go unpunished: Trayvon Martin.
"This is a stop on a long continuum in the struggle for black liberation,"
Shaped by the realities of the moment, the black lives matter movement continues to fight the iusses that spurred the Panthers into existence.
"We still can’t get those 10 things done: decarceration, education, housing, food, clothing,"
Cat Brooks organizes Black Lives Matter demonstrations and marches against police brutality and says though the organizations aren't idential, the hopes are the same.
"We would not exist were it not for them," says Brooks, who also runs the Anti Police-Terror Project.
With technology propelling the movement, the world was forced to listen.
"We say now that the camera was more effective than the gun,"
The hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, stretching from sea to sea and giving activists the safety net, access, and exposure the Panthers never had, sparking a new generation ready to take the movement further.
"It feels weird to just be like ‘yea I’m here’ and these are the consequences and I’m not going to do anything about it," says Jayden Brooks, Cat's 15 year old daughter.
This summer she helped organize BLM demonnstrations with the Black Youth for People's Liberation.
"I’m not the type of person to let the government, to let the state, walk all over me," Jayden says.
It is unclear what the future of these organizations hold. But, the streets of Oakland, the hometown of both organizations, will forever feel their legacy.
Though the Pather Party officially shut down in the early 1980s, they are far from one. The party continues to pair former Panthers with the youth in the Black Panther Party Legacy Keepers Program.
Passing on the fight to liberate all people to a new generation.
"Who knows I might be the next revolutionary," says 13 year old Anaya Cooley of the Black Panther Party Legacy Keepers Program.
Brooks tells me she believes the way to continue to propel the movement is to create a united front. She says she hopes black activists in neighborhoos throughout America will come together to work toward a greater good.
Find out more about the Black Panther Party here, the BPP Legacy Keepers here, the Anti Police-Terror Project here, and the Black Youth for the People's Liberation here.