Bobby Seale Poster, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross - PBS
DESIGN: Jed Dore

Bobby Seale

1936-
Source: Interview with Wallace Terry (1970)

In October 1966, Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense with Huey Newton, whom he first met in the early 60s at the Afro-American Association (AAA) in Oakland. Inspired by Malcolm X, Seale and Newton adopted his doctrine of “freedom by any means necessary” for the Black Panther Party. The organization, which was active in the United States until 1982, promoted black self-defense and called for an end to police brutality. Initially tied to black nationalism, over time the group aligned more with socialism. They carried out a number of community programs in poor, black urban areas including police patrols and the Free Breakfast for Children program. Other famous members include Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Fred Hampton, and Assata Shakur. The FBI investigated Seale as part of its COINTELPRO program that aimed to weaken targeted domestic political organizations. Seale was one of the original “Chicago Eight” defendants in 1968 and, despite a lack of substantial evidence, he was imprisoned for four years. To this day, Seale supports various non-profit social organizations related to education and social services in black communities.

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