Bobby Seale

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Bobby Seale
Bobby Seale (cropped).jpg
Bobby Seale at Binghamton University, February 25, 2006
Born Robert George Seale
(1936-10-22) October 22, 1936 (age 78)
Dallas, Texas, US
Education Merritt College
Occupation Political activist
Notable work(s) Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton

Robert George "Bobby" Seale[1] (born October 22, 1936) is an American political activist. He is known for co-founding the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton.

Early life[edit]

Seale was the oldest of three children, having a younger brother, Jon, and a younger sister, Betty.[2] He was born in Dallas, Texas to George Seale, a carpenter, and Thelma Seale (née Traylor), a homemaker.[3] The Seale family lived in poverty during most of Bobby Seale's early life. After moving around Texas, from Dallas, to San Antonio, to Port Arthur, his family relocated during World War II to Oakland, California when he was eight years old. Seale attended Berkeley High School, then dropped out and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955.[4] He was discharged for bad conduct three years after joining for fighting with a commanding officer at the Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.[3] After being discharged from the Air Force, Seale worked as a sheet metal mechanic for different aerospace plants while earning his high school diploma at night.[5] After earning his high school diploma, Seale attended Merritt College until 1962 where he studied engineering and politics.[6] While in college, Bobby Seale joined the Afro-American Association (AAA), a group on campus devoted to advocating black separatism. Through this AAA group, Seale met Huey Newton. Seale married and had a son, Malik Nkrumah Stagolee.[7]

Black Panthers[edit]

Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, heavily inspired by Malcolm X, a civil rights leader assassinated in 1965, and his teachings, joined together in October 1966 to create the Black Panthers, later known as the Black Panther Party for self-defense who adopted the slain activist's slogan “Freedom by any means necessary” as their own. Seale and Newton created the Black Panther Party to resist police brutality and the murdering of blacks; using violence if necessary. Seale was known to have said that the Black Panthers didn't carry guns unless authorized in a matter of self-defense. They weren't looking for violence, but were willing to if that is what it came to. It is "an organization that represents black people and many white radicals relate to this and understand that the Black Panther Party is a righteous revolutionary front against this racist decadent, capitalistic system."[8] Seale became known as the chairman of the Black Panther Party and underwent FBI surveillance as part of its COINTELPRO program.[9]

In 1968, Seale wanted the public to know about the formation and the history of the Black Panthers. He wrote the book, Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton, later published in 1970.[10] This book describes the evolution of the Black Panthers and the continuous struggle for human liberation.

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. Bobby Seale, while a political prisoner, states, "To be a Revolutionary is to be an Enemy of the state. To be arrested for this struggle is to be a Political Prisoner."[11] The evidence against Seale was slim as Seale was a last-minute replacement for Eldridge Cleaver and had been in Chicago for only two days of the convention.[12] On November 5, 1969, Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him to four years in prison for sixteen counts of contempt, each count accounting for three months of his imprisonment, because of his outbursts, and eventually ordered Seale severed from the case, hence the "Chicago Seven".[5] During the trial, one of Seale's many outbursts led the judge to have him bound and gagged,[13] as commemorated in the song "Chicago" written by Graham Nash[14] and mentioned in the poem and song "H2Ogate Blues" by Gil Scott-Heron.[15]

Seale on trial in 1970, State Attorney Arnold Markle in the background.

The trial of the Chicago Eight was depicted in the 1987 HBO television movie Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8, whose script relied heavily upon transcripts from the court proceedings. Seale was portrayed by actor Carl Lumbly.

While serving his four-year sentence, Seale was put on trial again in 1970 in the New Haven Black Panther trials. Several officers of the Panther organization had murdered a fellow Panther, Alex Rackley, who had confessed under torture to being a police informant.[16] The leader of the murder plan, George Sams, Jr., turned state's evidence and testified that he had been ordered to kill Rackley by Seale himself, who had visited New Haven only hours before the murder. The New Haven trials were accompanied by a large demonstration in New Haven on May Day, 1970, which coincided with the beginning of the American college Student Strike of 1970. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in Seale's trial, and the charges were eventually dropped. The government suspended his convictions and Seale was released from prison in 1972.[3] While in prison Seale’s wife, Artie, became pregnant allegedly by fellow Panther Fred Bennett. Bennett’s murdered and mutilated remains were found in a suspected Panther hideout in April 1971.[17] Seale was implicated in the murder with police suspecting he had ordered it in retaliation for the affair. However, no charges were pressed.[18] Seale wrote an article titled, One Less Oppressor that shows appreciation of the murder of Bennett and stated, "The people have now come to realize that the only way to deal with the oppressor is to deal on our own terms and this was done."[19]

After the release of Seale, the Black Panther Party wanted to clean up their reputation and announced that they would be instituting a breakfast program. Their slogan for this program was, "The Youth We Are Feeding Will Surely Feed the Revolution." The Panthers helped prepare and serve breakfast to the children at the Concord Baptist Church near Berkeley, California. They distributed breakfast daily at the church and later expanded to distributing breakfast to San Francisco at the Fillmore Auditorium.[20] Seale also ran for Mayor of Oakland, California in 1973.[21] He received the second-most votes in a field of nine candidates[3] but ultimately lost in a run-off with incumbent Mayor John Reading.[21] In 1974 Seale and Huey Newton argued over a proposed movie about the Panthers that Newton wanted Bert Schneider to produce. According to several accounts the argument escalated to a fight where Newton, backed by his armed bodyguards, beat Seale with a bullwhip so badly that Seale required extensive medical treatment for his injuries, went into hiding for nearly a year, and ended his affiliation with the Party in 1974.[22][23] Seale denied any such physical altercation took place, dismissing rumors that he and Newton were ever less than friends.[24]

Life after the Black Panthers[edit]

In more subsequent years, Seale’s actions have complemented the more radical community-based ones of his past. In 1978, Seale wrote an autobiography titled, A Lonely Rage. Also, in 1987, Bobby Seale wrote a cookbook called Barbeque'n with Bobby Seale: Hickory & Mesquite Recipes with the proceeds going to various non-profit social organizations.[25] Seale also advertised Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

In the early 1990s, Seale appeared on the TV documentary series Cold War, reminiscing about events in the 1960s. In 2002, Seale began dedicating his time to Reach!, a group focused on youth education programs. He has also taught black studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Seale appears in Roberto Bolaño's book 2666, renamed Barry Seaman. Also in 2002, Seale moved back to Oakland, working with young political advocates to influence social change.[26] In 2006 Seale appeared in the documentary film The US vs John Lennon to discuss his friendship with John Lennon.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton, Arrow Books and Hutchinson & Co., 1970. Reprint ISBN 0-933121-30-X
  • A Lonely Rage - The Autobiography of Bobby Seale, 1978. ISBN 0-8129-0715-9
  • Pearson, Hugh. The Shadow of the Panther: Huey P. Newton and the Price of Black Power in America, Addison-Wesley, 1994. ISBN 0-201-48341-6

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ancestry of Bobby Seale". Wargs.com. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  2. ^ [1] Black Panther Party
  3. ^ a b c d Bobby Seale at Spartacus Educational
  4. ^ Bagley, Mark. Bobby Seale biography. Penn State University Libraries. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  5. ^ a b [2] at Discover the Networks.org
  6. ^ [3] at Shmoop
  7. ^ [4] Answers
  8. ^ [The Black Panther Leaders Speak pg. 21-22] On Violent Revolution
  9. ^ "Archival newsfilm footage of a Bobby Seale press conference on police intimidation, from 1966". diva.sfsu.edu. 
  10. ^ [5] Seize The Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party - Bobby Seale
  11. ^ [The Black Panther Leaders Speak pg. 23] On Violent Revolution
  12. ^ "A Special Supplement: The Trial of Bobby Seale". Nybooks.com. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  13. ^ iPad iPhone Android TIME TV Populist The Page (1969-11-14). "Trials: Contempt in Chicago". TIME. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  14. ^ "Mr. Fish in Conversation With Graham Nash". Truthdig.com. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  15. ^ "H20-GATE BLUES (WATERGATE BLUES)". American-buddha.com. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  16. ^ "Two Controversial Cases in New Haven History: The Amistad Affair (1839) and The Black Panther Trials (1970)". Yale.edu. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  17. ^ The Palm Beach Post. Remote Panther Hideout was Slaying Scene. Apr 21, 1971
  18. ^ Jama Lazerow, Yohuru R. Williams. In search of the Black Panther Party: new perspectives on a revolutionary movement. Duke University Press. 2006. Pg 170
  19. ^ [The Black Panther Leaders Speak pg. 24] On Violent Revolution
  20. ^ [The Black Panther Leaders Speak pg. 23] On Violent Revolution
  21. ^ a b Bobby Seale at Penn State's online library
  22. ^ Kate Coleman and Paul Avery. The Party’s Over. New Times. July 10, 1978.
  23. ^ Hugh Pearson, The Shadow of the Panther, 1994
  24. ^ "Former Black Panther draws crowd of more than 600". Ur.umich.edu. 1996-01-23. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  25. ^ "Robert George Seale". Africawithin.com. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  26. ^ [6] Bobby Seale Biography at bio.

External links[edit]