By Marcus Ayala
Published: February 27th, 2019
Former Black Panther Party members held a “Black Panther Party Resurrection” panel along with experts at Brooklyn College Student Center detailing the history and exploits of the former political party in light of contemporary systemic predicaments African-Americans face.
Taking place on Thursday, February 21st, the same day that Malcolm X passed away, organizers of the panel from the Black History Committee and Woman of Color at Brooklyn College iterated the decision to hold such a panel on that day is a deliberate one.
The event, which saw former members of the Black Panther Party and aforementioned experts speak of their personal experiences relating to the BPP as well as contributing factors that they believed led to the downfall of the party.
This included the then-head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover’s alleging of the party to be ‘the greatest threat to national security’ at the time and subsequent attempts to undermine them.
Shepard P. McDaniel was a member of the Black Panthers at age 19 in 1973. The average age of a new member was 17. He believes the Black Panthers started getting targeted in 1968. After Martin Luther King died the group started growing and the arrests began.
“There’s still real Panthers in prison,” McDaniel asserts referring to all the leaders the FBI arrested over the years that are still behind bars.
“They took our leaders away from us,” McDaniel continued aggravated, before proclaiming that despite the parties ceased existence, he still defiantly considers himself to be a Panther.
Like him, other members said that they wanted to help mold the next generation yet wants them to be something different. “That was then, this is now,” McDaniel states emphasizing that organization is key to achieving greater goals, adding “[there’s] nothing you can’t do if you organize and do it.”
Tarik J. Haskins was also a member of the Black Panthers and an alumnus of Medgar Evers College of CUNY. He’s been in the struggle for over 50 years expressing that he was a member of the Black Liberation Army.
He expressed that the African-American community needs to learn how to free themselves. Some people in the community pass down negative qualities from past experiences to the next generation.
Like McDaniels, Haskins believes the key is the next generation, and their role should be to teach the next generation to develop self-confidence to believe in themselves and fight together.
A special guest of the event was Cory Provost. Provost is the District Leader of the 58th Assembly District, which includes Flatbush. Provost has held the title since 2012 and is a Brooklyn College graduate.
Provost characterized the meeting as being overall informative. Stating an important point he observed, “most people don’t get involved until they have a problem.” In his view, the event underscored a vital goal he himself looks to share on “how to be impactful in your community.”
In attendance were Charlexia Rey, a BC student, and Business Administration and Management major who voiced her opinion on the event saying that “it’s empowering to be among people who’ve done so much.”
Relishing in what often felt relatable and poignant messages from the panel, Rey in her own view states “the knowledge they were passing down was inspiring.”
With the impressive turnout from start to finish, it’s easy to say the panelists were getting their point across to the rest of the next generation as well as Rey.
Sharon Davis is the Vice President of Woman of Color and the NAACP clubs and one of the organizers of the event. Even being part of many groups, this event was still influential to her. According to her she gained even more knowledge she could use for future experiences, Davis notes that she wanted to still “continue the fight in our communities.”
The former members likened themselves to having ‘paved the way’ and now believe it’s up to the next generation to fight for what they believe in.