Beyond the discredited stories of violence, corruption and illegal activities attributed to the Black Panther Party by government agencies and the media, the impact that still lives today from the community social programs can be seen not just in Oakland or the Bay Area, but across the country. Specifically, the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast For Children Program is now a government program feeding millions of hungry children in big cities and small towns through America. The forethought wasn’t accidental, but purposeful and consistent with the values and history of people of African ancestry.
The vision demonstrated was especially significant because the Free Breakfast Program was more than free food, but served as a space for educating youth about the current condition of the Black community, and the actions that the Party was taking to address that condition. “While the children ate their meal[s], members [of the Party] taught them liberation lessons consisting of Party messages and Black history.” Feeding children’s bodies as well as their minds and souls with culturally rich knowledge and improved self-esteem was such a vital part of the Party’s influence and impact on the community that still remains today.
Other “survival” programs included free services such as clothing distribution, classes on politics and economics, free medical clinics, lessons on self-defense and first aid, transportation to upstate prisons for family members of inmates, an emergency-response ambulance program, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and testing for sickle-cell disease. Clearly, ahead of their time, but always relevant, even today, to strengthen and nourish African American children and families for sustainable progress that prepares students for educational success and living a life that makes a difference in the world.
The future is what we make it and our community needs solutions NOW. Transformative changes that break the cycles of violence, high unemployment, systemic racism, police brutality, poverty, dependence, drugs, gangs, persistent educational disparities and economic disenfranchisement are critical to turning around the outcomes for the Black community. The legacy of the Black Panther Party provides valuable lessons for what works for our children, adults and seniors to ensure they are healthy, secure and progressing positively on the path they chose for themselves.
Your involvement and investment is needed to realize the full potential of every child and NOW is the time to step forward and declare your commitment to the future of our children, families and communities. Make your gift in addition to your ticket purchase today.