The BPP 35th Year Anniversary started out with a big bang
with many comrades being registered and greeting one
another. Registration continued throughout the day. Prior
radio appearances and press releases were effective in
bringing out local people to view the photo and historical
displays. The photo exhibit included more than one hundred
pieces. Many comrades also brought their own personal
pictures to share with each other.
Many media people showed up the first day and throughout the
conference, including CNN, BET, C-SPAN, Washington Post,
Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, the Independent Media
Center, UPI and others. Many comrades gave interviews and
talked about their particular chapters.
About 350 former Panthers attended the conference, as well
as many community workers and supporters. Throughout the 3-
day event, more than 600 people came through to watch the
videos, visit the displays or get information.
Thursday's program began with the movie "The Murder of Fred
Hampton" presented by Akua Njeri and Fred Hampton, Jr. They
spoke about their experiences and Fred Jr. recited his poem,
"Murder on Monroe St." which appears in the program booklet.
There were workshops being presented throughout the
afternoon dealing with Police Brutality, Reparations and
Economic Development in the Community. The evening program,
MC'd by Sister Sheba, who did a great job throughout the
conference, began with libations by Frank Kellum and Rori
Abernethy. The film "American Exile" which follows the
lives of Pete and Charlotte O'Neal from Kansas City into
exile in Tanzania, and the many programs they have developed
there, was a big hit with the many comrades who had not been
aware of Pete and Charlotte's activities for the last 30
years. Entertainment was provided by Born Infinite, a local
conscious rap artist. Finally, the evening concluded with a
panel on Reparations, facilitated by Dorothy Lewis - co-
president of N-COBRA, Sam Anderson from the Black Radical
Congress and Kwaku Duren of the New Panther Vanguard
Friday's focus was on Political Prisoners with many
workshops held throughout the day. The evening panel
included representatives from various defense committees.
Robert King Wilkerson reminded us that April 18 marked 30
years in solitary confinement for the remaining Angola 3
prisoners, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox. He read a
letter from Herman and Albert which received a standing
ovation from the conference attendees. Nzinga Conway
moderated the panel and spoke on behalf of her husband,
Marshall Eddie Conway, whose attorney Bob Boyle also spoke.
Khalid Rahim and Kareem Howard from Pittsburg spoke on
behalf of the Philly 5. Tariq Al-Amin from Nebraska spoke
on behalf of Rice and Poindexter, Althea Francois and Robert
King Wilkerson spoke on the Angola 3 and Pam Africa wrapped
up the evening with a fiery speech in support of Mumia.
"Sooner or Later Someone is Going to Fight Back", a video by
Brice White, following the police raids on the New Orleans
BPP office was introduced by Shana Griffin and entertainment
was provided by Truth Universal, a conscious rap group from
Saturday began with a panel on COINTELPRO with many people
providing testimony regarding their own personal experiences.
The Panel was facilitated by Safiya Bukhari from New York.
Workshops and film showings continued throughout the day and
many people continued to view the historical displays.
Bobby Seale spoke at the closing session regarding "Where do
we go from here?" He discussed ways for us to return to our
communities and provide mentoring and organizational skills.
Many of us celebrated Saturday evening at a buffet dinner
and enjoyed the live music and the chance to socialize and
network one last time.
The It's About Time Committee, who sponsored the event,
recognizes the historical significance of our East and West
Coast comrades coming together for the first time in many
years and overcoming the divisive tactics of COINTELPRO.
This is the beginning of the opportunity to continue to work
together in solidarity, especially to free our political
prisoners. There were many contacts made across the country
for future networking.
Several other special events with a very positive response
were the meetings of the Panther Women, and the Children of
Panthers who held their own workshops. The Panther Youth
are planning a reunion of their own. Father Earl Neil also
hosted a Healing Workshop for former BPP members.
For the first time, a dialogue was established between BPP
members and members of the New Black Panther Party, many of
whom attended a workshop facilitated by JoNina Abron and Ron
Scott to discuss the BPP Legacy. The many differences in
ideology were addressed and lines of communication opened.
Overall, the Conference provided a great opportunity for
people to gather information on the Legacy of the Black
Panther Party presented by BPP members. We recognize the
importance of preserving this history and telling our
stories. It's About Time has begun to develop an Archives
of BPP historical photos, posters, newspapers and other
documents in the hopes of eventually having a traveling
exhibit and a permanent museum.
Our next project will be a Black Panther Party Video
Festival to be held in October 2002 in Oakland, CA. Further
information will be forthcoming on our website:
It's About Time is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Tax-
deductible contributions can be made to our Archives,
Newspaper or Books Behind Bars, a program which sends
progressive literature to prisoners around the country.
Contributions can be made to It's About Time, PO Box 221100,
Sacramento, CA 95822 Phone - (916) 455-0908