I was surprised and impressed to learn from my friend Ronnie James that the Free Breakfast for Children has continued to this day.
So I work with a dope crew called Des Moines Mutual Aid, and on Saturday mornings we do a food giveaway program that was started by the Panthers as their free breakfast program and has carried on to this day. Anyways, brag, brag, blah, blah.
So I get to work and I need to call my boss, who is also a very good old friend, because there is network issues. He remembers and asks about the food giveaway which is cool and I tell him blah blah it went really well. And then he’s like, “hey, if no one tells you, I’m very proud of what you do for the community” and I’m like “hold on hold on. Just realize that everything I do is to further the replacing of the state and destroying western civilization and any remnants of it for future generations.” He says “I know and love that. Carry on.”Ronnie James (with permission)
When I wondered if I should cite him by name, or anonymously, he said, “Ha, trust me I’m on their radar. Use it however you want.” I responded, “Thank you. I’m on their radar too,” referring to being a draft resister in the 1960’s and for any number of things since. The Black Panther Party was formed in the ’60’s. There are obvious parallels between the 1960’s and the protests today.
The Black Panther Party (BPP), originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a revolutionary socialist political organization founded by Marxist college students Bobby Seale (Chairman) and Huey Newton (Minister of Defense) in October 1966 in Oakland, California. The party was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982, with chapters in numerous major cities, and international chapters in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, and in Algeria from 1969 to 1972. At its inception on October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party’s core practice was its open carry armed citizens’ patrols (“copwatching”) to monitor the behavior of officers of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality in the city.
In 1969, a variety of community social programs became a core activity. The Party instituted the Free Breakfast for Children Programs to address food injustice, and community health clinics for education and treatment of diseases including sickle cell anemia, tuberculosis, and later HIV/AIDS.
I didn’t remember their work to challenge police brutality.
The Free Breakfast for Children Program was one among more than 60 community social programs created by the Black Panther Party. They were renamed Survival Programs in 1971. These were operated by Party members under the slogan “survival pending revolution.” Another Survival Program started by the Black Panther Party was referred to as “medical self-defense” with the creation of healthcare clinics and their own ambulance services. Other survival programs include children development center, free clothing, free busing to prisons, free housing cooperative, free ambulance, etc.
“We believe,” the Panthers’ Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver wrote in 1969, “in the need for a unified revolutionary movement … informed by the revolutionary principles of scientific socialism.” Formed by young black intellectuals who read Marx, Lenin, Mao, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, and Frantz Fanon, the Panthers fused black nationalism with Marxism in militant opposition to all of King’s evils and in accord with King’s conclusion that the “real issue to be faced” beyond “superficial” matters was “radical reconstruction of society itself.”
The solution, the Panthers said, was a revolution, a transformation of the whole society, to be achieved by combining the forces of the black, brown, yellow, red and white “proletariats” in opposition to America’s capitalist and racist empire. This idea was “Black Power” but also and, more broadly, “Power to the People.” As the legendary young Chicago Black Panther Fred Hampton explained in a 1969 speech:
We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.Black Panther Fred Hampton
Here is another recent story that references the Black Panther’s free breakfast program.
PITTSBURGH — In Pittsburgh 1 in 5 city residents are food insecure. Operating on a no-questions-asked and mentorship-driven model, Feed the Hood seeks to combat hunger at pop-up locations around the city.
On Friday afternoon to honor Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old killed by a police officer in June 2018, the organization will give away free meals in Hawkins Village, where the teenager lived.
“The day we chose [June 19] specifically was the date that Antwon was murdered, to just not forget his legacy,” Chef Carlos Thomas, founder of Feed the Hood, said.
Thomas, a 29-year-old Pittsburgh native founded his business, Confluence Catering in 2011, and in 2016 he founded Feed the Hood. The initiative was born from Thomas being told by a Westinghouse High School teacher that many students depended on the school for regular meals. After the information led to him delving into the rates of food insecurity throughout the commonwealth, Thomas decided to use his skills to combat hunger.
“It’s relative to what the Black Panthers and Huey Newton did with their free breakfast program,” Thomas explained. “We’re kind of treading the lines of that, the only difference is we do dinner.”
‘Feed The Hood’ providing free meals to honor Antwon Rose on 2nd anniversary of his death, By Atiya Irvin-Mitchell, Special to the Capital-Star -June 17, 2020, Pennsylvania Capital-Star