‘Long live the legacy of Dr. Huey P. Newton’: Sculpture honors Black Panthers co-founder
on October 24, 2021
During an unusually stormy Sunday in West Oakland, about 150 people sang and danced in the rain to celebrate the unveiling of a sculpture honoring Huey P. Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party in the city.
The bronze bust of Newton is the first permanent art installation to honor the activist, who started the Panthers with Bobby Seale in 1966 to provide educational, and economic support to the Black community. The party developed services to meet the everyday needs of Black Americans, including a free breakfast program that would become a model for the federal program in schools across the country.
The event during a wind-swept deluge was one of a series this month to commemorate the Black Panther Party’s 55th anniversary.
“The panther was born in a storm.” said Melvin Newton, Huey P. Newton’s brother. “And we continue in a storm.”
Huey P. Newton’s widow, Fredrika Newton, spearheaded the project to create the Dr. Huey P. Newton Memorial Sculpture. At the unveiling, its sculptor, Dana King, said “We need to follow the path that has been laid by the Black Panther Party for us to have our freedom.”
The sculpture includes a plaque acknowledging Huey P. Newton’s “unwavering commitment to the liberation of all oppressed people.”
The unveiling occurred on what Mayor Libby Schaaf designated Huey P. Newton Day, and carried a somber note, being held at the intersection where Newton was murdered in 1989 at the age of 47 and on the street that now bears his name.
“I’m hoping that today in the honoring of this man who was a genius — a brilliant genius who did so much — that we are able to not just celebrate his legacy, live into his legacy, into his program, live into his sacrifice and make it a reality, said Oakland City councilmember, Carol Fife.
In attendance Sunday were other Black Panther Party members and their relatives, including Fred Hampton Jr., son of Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old head of the Panther’s Chicago chapter who was killed by police during a raid on his apartment in 1969. Many suspect the FBI, which had the party under surveillance, was involved in Hampton’s death.
“Long live the legacy of Dr. Huey P. Newton,” Hampton Jr. said.
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