Civil rights activist at UW Tacoma Feb. 10

Robert George “Bobby” Seale, an American civil rights activist who, along with Dr. Huey P. Newton, co-founded the Black Panther Party For Self Defense in the 1960s, will speak at UW Tacoma on Tues., Feb. 10, from 6:30 — 8:30 p.m. in the Longshoremen’s Hall.
Seale’s talk is titled, “From the Sixties to the Future,” and will be followed by Q&A time with the audience. This event is free and open to the public.

In 1962, at the age of 25, Seale began attending Merritt College, where he would join the Afro-American Association (AAA) and as a result meet Huey Newton, later his co-founder of the Black Panther Party. Seale and co-member Newton became increasingly skeptical about the direction of the AAA, and in particular, the AAA’s tendency to analyze rather than act on the problems facing black Americans.

Both Seale and Newton, heavily inspired by Malcolm X, and his teachings, joined together in October 1966 to create the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and adapt the slain activist’s slogan “Freedom by any means necessary” as their own. Seale became the chairman of the Black Panther Party and underwent FBI surveillance as part of its COINTELPRO program.

Bobby Seale was one of the original “Chicago Eight” defendants charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot, in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, in Chicago. Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him to four years of imprisonment for contempt because of his outbursts, and eventually ordered Seale severed from the case, hence the “Chicago Seven.” During the trial, one of Seale’s many outbursts led the judge to have him bound and gagged, as commemorated in the song “Chicago” written by Graham Nash and mentioned in the poem and song “H2Ogate Blues” by Gil Scott-Heron.

In more recent years, Seale’s actions differ greatly from the radical ones of his past. In 1987, he authored a cookbook called Barbequing with Bobby and was also a spokesman for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. In 2002, Seale began dedicating his time to Reach!, a group focused on youth education programs. He also currently teaches black studies at Temple University in Philadelphia and is launching an instructional nonprofit group helping people develop the necessary techniques and tools to set up community organization within their neighborhoods.

This event is co-hosted by the Student Activities Board and the Black Student Union at UW Tacoma. Funding was provided by SAB, Arts & Lectures Committee, CEF and the SI Educational Opportunity Fund.