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BOBBY SEALE Printer Friendly Page
Major Introductory Resource:

Panther Leader Seale Confesses
By Dan Flynn
April 23, 2002

A Special Supplement: The Trial of Bobby Seale
By Jason Epstein
December 4, 1969


Additional Resources:

Radical Old Man
By David Lewis Schaefer
March 7, 2007

Bobby Seale's Confession: Confirming the Truths of David Horowitz
By Jamie Glazov
April 25, 2002

Brain Dead Till the End
By David Horowitz
December 21, 1999

Panther: An Interview with Mario Van Peebles
By Tikkun
February 17, 1999

Eldridge Cleaver's Last Gift
By David Horowitz
May 3, 1998

The Last Panther
By Kate Coleman
July 1, 1997


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Seale's Visual Map
 

  • Co-founder of the Black Panther Party
  • In 1968, incited rioters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago
  • Currently a leftist icon and popular college speaker



Born in Dallas, Texas in 1936, Robert George (Bobby) Seale was a militant black activist who, along with Huey P. Newton and Bobby Hutton, founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1966.

The young Seale moved with his family to Oakland, California during World War II. He dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Air Force, where he served three years before he was court-martialed and given a bad-conduct discharge for having disobeyed a colonel at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. 

Seale returned to Oakland and worked as a sheet metal mechanic in various aerospace plants while earning his high-school diploma in night school. In 1962 he began attending Oakland City College, where he joined the Afro-American Association (AAA), a campus group that advocated black separatism. Through the AAA he met Huey Newton, who shared Seale's feeling that the AAA was not radical enough to foster significant progress for African Americans.

Both Seale and Newton greatly admired Malcolm X, adopting the latter's "Freedom by any means necessary" slogan when they established the Black Panther Party.

To codify the nascent organization's creed, Seale and Newton jointly drafted a ten-point program titled "What We Want, What We Believe." An angry denunciation of an allegedly racist American nation, this program demanded that the U.S. government furnish its black inhabitants with reparations payments; guaranteed jobs, incomes, and housing; Afrocentric education; exemption from military service; and the immediate release of every black prisoner in the country.

In 1968 Seale participated in demonstrations designed to foment riots that would disrupt the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In a speech he gave at Chicago's Grant Park, he stated: "If the police get in the way of our march, tangle with the blue-helmeted motherf---ers and kill them and send them to the morgue slab."

Following these events, Seale was among eight persons arrested and charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot. At his trial, he was so disruptive that he had to be gagged and strapped into a chair in the courtroom. On November 5, 1969, the presiding judge sentenced Seale to four years in prison for 16 counts of contempt of court, each of which accounted for three months of his sentence.

While serving his prison term, Seale was also indicted in New Haven, Connecticut for having ordered the torture and execution of Alex Rackley, a Black Panther suspected of being a "police informer." A trial in the Rackley case ended with a hung jury, and the charges were dismissed. In 1972 the federal government suspended Seale's contempt convictions and set him free. 

The Panthers thereafter tried to improve their public image by initiating a "free breakfast program" for schoolchildren, a program they claimed was responsible for serving 1,000 meals each day in San Francisco schools. One journalist checked the veracity of this figure and found that the actual number was approximately 50. Moreover, the food was usually extorted from local businessmen.

In Seattle, the Panthers' "free breakfasts" were accompanied by question-and-answer recitation drills for the recipients, which went as follows:

Q: What do the Panthers believe? 
A: All power to the people.
Q: Who are the capitalists? 
A: They are the pigs who control the country.
Q:What do the capitalists do?
A: They steal from the poor.
Q: What should happen with capitalists? 
A: Off the pig.
Q: Who do we love?
A: The people.
Q: Who are police? 
A: They are the pigs.
Q: What do the Panthers believe? 
A: Off the pig.
Q: Why are the pigs going to kill Bob Seale? 
A: Because he wants freedom for all people.

Seale also approved a Black Panther Coloring Book to be distributed to children, but quickly withdrew it because of public outcry over its illustrations showing youngsters killing policemen. In 1973 Seale returned to Oakland and ran for mayor, finishing second out of nine contenders. The following year, he left Oakland and the Panthers.

Today Seale resides in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He travels frequently to college campuses where, for five-figure speaking fees, he continues to call for black liberation and denounces American racism.

Seale is the author of a book about the Black Panthers titled Seize the Time (1970), and an autobiography titled A Lonely Rage (1978). In 1987 he published: Barbeque'n with Bobby Seale: Hickory & Mesquite Recipes.

 

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