Fifty years ago this weekend, two Oakland college students felt the need to stand up to power and patrol African-American neighborhoods from what they deemed as acts of police brutality.
This weekend, that slice of history will be honored in earnest in Oakland — the birthplace of the movement.
"It's surreal," former Panther activist Saturu Ned, 67, told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday as he was preparing for a host of activities to be held Thursday to Saturday at the Oakland Museum of California.
Ned worked alongside Panther co-founders, Bobby Seale and the late Huey P. Newton, met at Merritt College and set up their headquarters and newspaper at what is now a bakery on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland.
They called their group the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The reason for the word panther is described on a wall at the museum, which has been especially busy this week with tours of children and visitors flocking to see old photos and artwork from the movement.
"The panther is a fierce animal, but he will not attack until he is backed in a corner; then he will strike out," Newton once said.
The Panthers drew the ire of many Americans at the time because some party activists carried guns and took to violence to make their voices heard. But the party was also known for fighting racism and societal ills when members took up the cause of serving pancakes at breakfast time to needy children and creating a school for the poor in Oakland.
Today, the party activists, now in their 60s, are looking back fondly on their activism and are trying to impart to young Black Lives Matter protesters that fighting injustice should be done with love.
A full list of activities and "All Power to the People" exhibit through Feb. 12 at the Oakland Museum of California, can be found here.