Oakland Museum of CA celebrates 50th anniversary of Black Panthers

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Fifty years ago this month in Oakland, a revolutionary group was founded and now the city is honoring the Black Panthers with a week of activities and a museum exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California.

The images of the Black Panther movement that resonate show armed black men in leather jackets and black berets, pushing back against police brutality. But in their community, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was much more. A never-before-seen handwritten draft of their 10-point platform, their founding document, highlights calls for decent housing, full employment and self-determination.

"It's such a compelling local story that's had national and international influence. I believe the Panthers have earned their place in American history," said Oakland Museum of Calif. spokesperson Rene de Guzman said.

De Guzman says it took three years to put together the exhibit at the Oakland Museum, All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50. A key strategy was collaborating with former members, like Gayle Dickson.

Dickson was one of the illustrators for the Panther's newspaper. Now 68, Dickson was known back then as Asali. "Believe it or not, I saw it as what they call total revolution, systemic change," she said.

She was involved in the party's survival programs, the free breakfast for children, the medical clinics, the schools. Women made up two/thirds of the Panther membership in chapters nationwide.

"It never entered my mind that these were thugs out here. For me, it's always been about taking care of the community one way or the other," Dickson said.

The party is no more, but if you look at the Black Lives Matter movement and even the national anthem protests, it's clear the Panther's influence is still felt today.

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