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Black Panthers Founder Bobby Seale to Speak at Ithaca College

ITHACA, NY — Bobby Seale — who cofounded the Black Panthers and went on to become one of the most controversial activists of the 1960s — will look back at that tumultuous decade and look ahead to the future in a free public talk at Ithaca College. Seale will present “From the Sixties to the Future” on Friday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. in Emerson Suites, Phillips Hall.

In 1966, Seale and fellow African-American activist Huey Newton founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in Oakland, California, in response to complaints of police brutality. Coupling food programs for needy families and “liberation schools” for political education with defiant calls for Black control of community institutions, the Black Panthers grew to become a nationwide movement. The group’s militant style led to frequent violent confrontations — both with police and among its own members.

Seale was one of the original “Chicago Eight” defendants, charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Because of his courtroom outbursts, he was bound and gagged during the trial and finally sent to prison for contempt of court. In 1970 he was among several charged in connection with the murder of a fellow Black Panther, though the trial ended in a hung jury.

Seale subsequently renounced political violence and concentrated on conventional politics, running unsuccessfully for mayor of Oakland in 1973. He has worked on a variety of community projects and published several books, including “Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton,” the autobiography “A Lonely Rage” and even a cookbook, “Barbeque’n with Bobby.”

“Today you don’t need guns,” says Seale. “If you want to observe police brutality, use the technology. Network with a thousand camcorders and put it all on the Internet. And with it organize to create realistic peoples’ economic parity and greater direct democracy complete with community control of police and economics.”

The presentation is sponsored by the Ithaca College African-Latino Society. For more information, e-mail