The Black Panthers are well known for their activism throughout the United States. They also deserve recognition for their community service efforts and innovative programming. In this blog post we will share info about some of these programs which include medical centers, ambulance services, youth empowerment programming and much more.
In 1968, The Black Panthers launched their free breakfast program for children in Berkley, California. provided free breakfast for school children. It was their first large scale community action program. The program grew to cover 19 cities by the end of 1969 and served more than 20,000 children.
Health Clinics, known as the “Peoples Free Medical Centers” offered medical care in 13 cities across the United States. The Black Panther’s women members were integral to the success of this effort. Unfortunately many were not able to stay open for very long. Services offered included various health screenings, immunizations, physicals, etc.
Established in 1971, the Intercommunal Youth Institute was launched to empower black youth to achieve success. The first graduating class was in 1974 and the programs name was changed to the Oakland Community School. In 1977 California Governor Jerry Brown, Jr. gave the program a special award for “having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state.”
Maya Angelou (left) visiting Oakland Community School
Seniors Against A Fearful Environment (SAFE) was a non-profit organization organized by the Black Panthers. A group of senior residents asked the Black Panthers to launch the organization to help seniors learn self-defense techniques to prevent robberies, muggings and other attacks on seniors. These seniors had originally approached the Oakland police department to provide additional patrols and protection. The SAFE program offered free transportation services which allowed seniors to conduct banking transactions more safely.
The Peoples Free Ambulance Service provided rides to the hospital for sick or injured people. At least one ambulance was available 24 hours per day for emergencies and from 8am-5pm for non-emergencies (doctor visits and other medical appointments).
The Black Panther’s Free Food Program provided food to black communities and also assisted other individuals as well. The program was initiated to supplement grocery purchases. The program also provided mass distribution of food items on occasion which included giving away food such as eggs, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, and other food items. Each bag distributed contained a week’s worth of food.
The Black Panther Party Black Student Alliance was started in 1972. It brought together Black Student Union groups in California to establish Black Panther programming on college campuses. The goal was to unify students with their local black communities so that the schools and community would be more responsive to the needs of black residents. The Black Student Alliance initiated programs which provided supplies and books to students at no cost, free child care, food distribution, transportation services, financial aid programs, etc. The program also advocated for securing better instruction for students.
The Black Panther Newspaper was published and distributed weekly starting in 1967 both locally and nationally. The publication provided updates on Black Panther initiatives being carried out by its various chapters across the United States. It also provided commentary on oppression in black and other marginalized communities in the U.S., African and around the world.
As you can see The Black Panther Party was heavily involved in providing resources and empowerment to oppressed groups within local communities!
Jewel Plummer Cobb (1924 – 2017) grew up in Chicago, Illinois. Her groundbreaking research studied the relationship between skin pigmentation and cancer. She was also a staunch advocate for increasing the number of women and students of color in STEM careers. Her father, Frank Plummer was a doctor and her mother, Carriebel Cole Plummer, was physical education and dance teacher. Cobb’s grandfather was formerly enslaved man who received his freedom and graduated from Howard University in 1898, earning a degree in pharmacy. Continue reading “Jewel Plummer Cobb: African American Cancer Researcher and Scientist “→
Artist Bisa Bulter brings together artistry and creativity through her quilts. Made from bold and vibrant patterns her quilts portray people from all walks of life. Bisa Bulter was born in Orange, NJ. She was the youngest of four siblings. Her artistic talents became apparent early. At age four she won a blue ribbon in the Plainfield Sidewalk art competition. At age five, she was named the “artist of the month” at her nursery school. Continue reading “Bisa Butler: The Artistry Displayed Through Her Quilts Will Amaze You!!”→
William H. Johnson (1901 – 1970) was an African American painter. Born in Florence, South Carolina. He was the oldest of five children. Johnson moved to New York at age 17 where he was employed as a cook, porter, and stevedore. Johnson saved up enough money to pay for tuition and enrolled at the School of the National National Academy Design. While there, he was mentored by artist, Charles W. Hawthorne. Hawthorne paid for him to study abroad in France in 1926. Johnson worked as a janitor to earn extra money during that time. In 1930, he married an artist, Holcha Krake. The couple traveled extensively. In 1932 they arrived in Tunisia where they stayed for three months. His artistic works changed dramatically during this time. His pieces feature more bold colors and shapes, and were centered on African American subjects. As World War II loomed, Johnson relocated back to the U.S. settling in New York. Continue reading “William H. Johnson: African American Folk & Expressionist Painter”→
Dr. Dale Okorodudu is committed to connecting with black male youth and encouraging them to consider careers in the medical field. Currently, only Black Men In White Coats was established in 2013 by Okorodudu after he learned the number of black men entering the medical field was decreasing. In 2011 there were even less black males entering the medical field than in 1978. His mission for the organization “is to inspire the next generation of physician leaders and to diversify the field of medicine with a special emphasis on Black males.”. The event is open to all genders. Currently, on 6% of physicians in the U.S. are black. The 2019 event was held at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Several other medical schools from around the country also participated including, University of North Carolina, Duke University, University of Colorado and UCLA.
Students, parents, teachers, medical professionals, and community leaders participated in the event. The event welcomes students who are in the 3rd – 12th grades. Students are able to connect with mentors and other supports that can aid them in pursuing education and career options in the medical field; while parents are also given resources and guidance to understand how to support their child in pursuing a career in the medical field. For more info on the organization, visit their website: http://www.blackmeninwhitecoats.org/
Following the end of slavery in the U.S., many formerly enslaved people felt betrayed by the government because they received no financial or material assistance as they exited slavery. The National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, and Pension of the United States was chartered in 1898 to advocate for the payment of pensions to the formerly enslaved. The pensions were to serve as reparations for the economic robbery of slavery and, would also help with burial costs. Formerly enslaved woman, Callie House became a nationally recognized leader of the organization. The group claimed to have a membership in the hundreds of thousands who made financial donations to fund the organization. It unsuccessfully sued the government for access to money gained through a tax on cotton confiscated during the civil war. Continue reading “The National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, and Pension Association Of The United States”→
Dr. Trachette Jackson (1972 – ) is a professor and mathematician. Jackson has focused her mathematical research in the area of cancer oncology. She and her research team, are exploring how mathematical modeling can be used to gain a broader understanding of cancerous tumor growth and how it is initiated. Her research has gained international attention. Jackson received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1994 from Arizona State University and earned her masters and Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1996 and 1998. Her Ph.D. thesis focused on mathematical models and their connection to chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients. Continue reading “Trachette Jackson: Black Mathematician Making An Impact In Cancer Research”→