In 1965, Sekou joined the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), founded by Malcolm X. After Malcolm's death the OAAU was not going in the direction he wanted and in 1967 he was looking at the Black Panther Party. In early 1968 he helped build the Bronx Black Panther Party.
On January 17, 1969 two Panthers had been killed by members of Organization Us (a rival Black Nationalist group) and a fellow New York Panther who was in police custody was brutally beaten. Sekou was informed that police were searching for him in connection with a police shooting. At that point, Sekou joined the black underground with the Black Liberation Army.
The two Black Panthers murdered in January 17, 1969 in the grounds of UCLA were Alprentis "Bunchy" Carter and John Huggins. Both were UCLA students and leaders of the Los Angeles Black Panther Party Chapter. Brothers George and Larry Stiner and Donald Hawkins turned themselves in to the police, who had issued warrants for their arrests. They were convicted for conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of second-degree murder, based on testimony given by Black Panther Party members. The Stiner brothers both received life sentences and Hawkins served time in California’s Youth Authority Detention.
Sekou Odinga remained underground, partaking in revolutionary clandestine activity for twelve years until his capture. Upon being captured he was charged with six counts of attempted murder, nine predicate acts of Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO), including the liberation of Assata Shakur from prison and violent theft of an armored truck. He is serving a consecutive twenty-five years to life state sentence and a forty year federal sentence.
Joan Bird, a New York Black Panther, was brutally beaten by Manhattan Police officers prior to being booked. The arresting officers stated their prisoner had fallen during the arrest. Joan Bird was a pianist and music child prodigy who had headlined a solo performance at New York's prestigious Lincoln Theater when she was 19 years old. All charges against Joan Bird and Sekou Odinga were eventually cleared in the Panther 21 case (1969-1971), which was one of the longest (2 years) and most expensive criminal court trials in New York City. All 21 Black Panther Party members were found not guilty after 45 minutes of deliberation.
-The Briar Patch: The Trial of the Panther 21 by Murray Kempton -Agents of Repression by Ward Churchill -Perversions of Justice:The Prosecution and Acquittal of the Panther 21 by Peter L. Zimroth
Odinga has eight children and 18 grandchildren. He is the father of late rapper Yaki Kadafi.