50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party Celebrations
This year in Oakland we celebrated the 50th year commemoration of the Black Panther Party. There were lots of events to attend and lots of knowledge to gain! I was so excited to share with my daughter all of the history behind the Black Panthers, who they were and what they stood for in the community. All of the celebrations were a great way to bring to life everything that we were discussing.
The Oakland Museum currently has a really great Black Panther Party exhibit on display right now. "All Power To The People: The Panthers at 50" is up and running now through February 12th (we have been twice already). This exhibit explores the complexity that is the Black Panther Party on their plight to fight the powers that be while uplifting the oppressed. Their beginnings in our very own Oakland had to do with the city redlining Black people into certain districts and Oakland neighborhoods being very different in contrast, which is still an issue today. The exhibit shows all the wonderful programs they started for the people from the well known breakfast program, to healthcare services, to transportation for the elderly services, and their school. There are rare photos and artifacts, video tape, firsthand accounts, and a whole section about how the government dismantled them. The exhibit is powerful and moving. It really culminated everything I had been talking about with my daughter and made the Panthers and their plight come to life for her.
You can go visit the exhibit any day of the week, but every Friday evening their is an event called OMCA Friday Nights where you can get in for half price and kids under 18 free. On Friday nights there are food trucks, dancing, music, vendors, and kids activities. Essentially it is one big party! Last Friday we made Black Panther Party posters and cookie decorating, before we danced the night away.
Another smaller exhibit is being displayed at the Omi Arts Gallery in downtown Oakland. "Survival Pending Revolution" is a small but powerful look at the Black Panther Party from the women's perspective. Women were very instrumental in the BPP even though have a tendency to be less talked about. The gallery is showcasing artifacts along with artistic interpretations of the movement.
There have been many more events celebrating the Black Panthers that we have attended over the past month or so including the Life is Living Festival which was held at Little Bobby Hutton Park in West Oakland. This event had three stages of singers, rappers, African dancers, food stands, craft vendors, kids activities, free seeds for planting, and more. This event was held at the park so there were kids running around playing everywhere. It was a really nice family event and fun for the whole family!
In downtown Oakland there was a free concert commemorating the Black Panther Party that we went to. This was a little more for the grown folks but kids were welcome and my kids were dancing up a storm. There were many local rap acts there such as Digital Underground, Suga T, Equipto, Da Locksmith, Heiro, Dru Down, and more. The concert was held right in front of city hall so they had a good dancing stage which my kids put to good use. Vendors lined the areas that bordered around the grassy area. It was a fun event and nice to hear good music for free!
The story of the Black Panthers is a complicated one, it is even harder to explain to your children why our government wanted to bring them down when they were doing so much good for their community. But I am a strong believer in teaching the youth the truth, we do not have time to be sugar coating life to them. Our children must know what is going on in this world so they can grow up to try and change it. We must teach them to be the change they want to see in the world, which I believe is what the Black Panther Party stood for. Power to the People!