Big Man's Insights

Panthers at College

Big Man and supporters

During the time I was attending Grove Street Community College on my GI Bill the college had a change of college presidents. The new president was a Korean named Dr. Young Park, one day I was in class and someone came to tell me, and he wanted to see me. I went to his office; he invited me in and introduced himself. He was a small framed but musical man with a firm handshake. We sat down and he asked me if I wanted a job. I told him I didn't have time to work a job because of my community activism. He said that was fine, I could set my own schedule. He went on to explain that he knew who I was (A Panther) and that he was new to the area and basically this was not his turf, it was more mine.

Dr. Park explained that there was a position in the school budget for a liaison person whom worked with the college and the community. I didn't have to answer to anybody on campus expect for him. I told him that sounded good, but there were something I wanted t get started on campus and needed some resources to implement them. He said lets hear it and then he would see if it could be done. I told him I wanted space on campus to open a preventive medical clinic for the testing for Sickle Cell Amelia, High Blood Pressure, and other care. Panther Audrea Jones coordinated this program. Who had a working relationship with Dr. Bert Small whom lived in Oakland?

I got an OK from Dr. Park so we got set up and was open three days per week with the public invited to come in. We printed flyers and put them in the community off campus.

My next move I asked for a portion of the work-study budget, which I found out was not being used and was returned to the government each year. The California Penal system at that time had many inmates who were eligible for parole were setting in jail simply because they didn't have a job to go too, to me it was like catch 22 once again, you can't get a job setting in jail and you couldn't get out unless you have one.

With Dr. Park approval, I wrote a proposal for the work- study program, with the help of Carolyn Price who worked in the campus Administration office. I was able to write a program to present to the Oakland Alameda Parole Board administers. Dr Park went with me to present it. The ideal of sitting down with the members of Black Panther Party was a lot for them to swallow, but my program was air tight they had to go for it and pray for failure later.

I would be remiss if I didn't take a few minutes to remember Carolyn Price who was one of the sharpest persons on the plant. She is not on the plant any longer but she surly must be one of the brightest stars in the galaxy. Carolyn knew every thing there was to know about Campus administration. She helped me avoid many pitfalls and ambushes set up to make me fail. She looked out for me when advance positions with more pay came up and informed me how I could get it. Carolyn was a true friend of the Panthers. RIP Carolyn.

The work-study program for ex-offenders was set up. If an inmate was just sitting waiting for a job to get out of jail I offered an alternative. Most inmates didn't have a high school diploma, or had a problem reading.

We offered the ex-offender a program that which he or she should enroll in school taking courses that would lead to them earning a GED plus they were required to work a certain amount of hours per week on or off campus. They received a bi-weekly check plus they received a meal ticket to eat on campus twice a day, five days a week. Those with some college credits were free and encouraged to work toward a two-year degree and toward credit for transfer to a four-year college. For the most part the program worked smoothly. I was on top of a problem that came up, the campus administrators and instructors were cooperative, of course, there were a few that hated me. But being a Panther and in charge of a Panther Program on campus didn't set well with establishment people.

Another aspect of the work study program was what we called Peer Counseling Program, this was where a student who had been through orientation courses and had get settled into campus routine would help new students coming in get the help they needed. Peer counseling students were paid to make sure the work was performed correctly. I wrote and published an on campus book titled "Each One Teach One Guide to Peer Counseling.

The program worked and I had very little trouble out of the ex inmate students. The one problem that I came up on campus was one that was designed to cause it to self- destruct. There was a teacher on campus by the name of Alex Pointer; he was a brother of the Pointier Sisters singing group. I think he taught political science and Black History; anyway, he would mouth off being critical of Huey and the Party. I believe he was given a verbal warning not to do that, being a hopeless loud mouth and showing off, he refused to stop, so one day a few

Panthers showed up and beat him up in his classroom. So much for the Panther program on campus. There was nothing Dr. Park could do to help me salvage the program.

Elbert "Big Man" Howard

Note: I was also assigned to Grove Street College and Big man was my supervisor on campus. What Big Man doesn't mention is all the hard work and long hours, he put in to make this problem happen. He helped out many ex inmates to get out of jail as well and getting them the chance to go to college with a support system to help them. This program was years a head of the time. Billy X