By Alex Bock
Students, professors, and administrators alike gathered in the Multi purpose room in Lower Level Gallagher Center on April 11th to listen and learn about the history of the Black Panthers.
Sekou Odinga, a Black Panther member from New York City, spoke to the audience about his experiences and struggles. This included being locked away in Federal Prison for 28 years, and New York State prison for 5 years.
Upon being released from prison, Odinga went on to work with other Black Panther members, which included helping those who were in prison, in an effort to assist those who were still fighting against police brutality and injustice against African Americans.
“We call it a struggle because it is hard work” Odinga explained. “Part of our struggle was waking up to serve food in the programs. We had to run those programs, work those programs. Part of our program was to educate the community so we had to get out to educate people on the streets. It was an all day job. Hard work, all day work. We work Monday through Sunday”.
Odinga went on to explain that an important aspect of the Black Panther’s mission is to mobilize and organize its members to accomplish the task at hand when facing oppression and institutionalized racism.
“We knew that if we didn’t work together humanity was in big trouble” Odinga stated. “We need to come together to discuss issues that we believe need to be dealt with and to organize”.
It was certainly easier said than done, as Police all across the nation took notice of the revolution of the Black Panthers and did whatever it took to halt their efforts to bring change to a society riddled with multiple forms of racism. “They declared these were illegal activities” Odinga mentioned.
That didn’t stop the Black Panthers from fighting this war, even with the number of members incarcerated climbing, the Black Panthers continued to stand up to racism, oppression and injustice.
“I think it starts with love, family, community,” Odinga said. “I think the commitment came from seeing the problems and feeling that not only could I do something, but I should do something about it if I can do something about it” Odinga stated. “We were very clear we can make a difference. We really believe that we were creating a better world”.
Featured Image: Nina Grenga