Black Panther 50th Anniversary: Party Activist Ericka Huggins Tells Young Protesters to Fight Injustice With Love - NBC Bay Area
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Black Panther 50th Anniversary: Party Activist Ericka Huggins Tells Young Protesters to Fight Injustice With Love

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    Black Panther 50th Anniversary: Ericka Huggins Talks Women, the Oakland Community School, and Self-Care (Published Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016)

    As Oakland prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party with lectures, music, and a gala, activists are discussing the party's dozens of social programs, the rank-and-file members, and lessons for today's social movements.

    As Oakland prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party this weekend with lectures, music, and a gala, activists hail the party's dozens of social programs, rank-and-file members, and lessons for today's social movements.

    At a gallery exhibit at Impact Hub Oakland, a co-working space in Uptown, five former party members discussed their experiences in the party. 

    Amid contemporary work inspired by the Black Panthers and archival pieces, Ericka Huggins reflected on her 14 years with the party. 

    "As I look back, I see that the Ten-Point Platform that we created is too similar to the Black Lives Matter platform," she said. "We are still struggling in poor communities, especially communities of color, to end over-incarceration, to stop police violence."

    Huggins said she feels a mix of emotions and a flood of memories when she looks back on those formative years. 

    Her husband, party leader John Huggins, was shot and killed on the UCLA campus in 1969. Shortly after, she and party co-founder Bobby Seale were arrested and charged with conspiracy. The jury deadlocked and a judge threw out the charges. 

    "That's in there alongside the joy of being the director of the Oakland Community School. It was a tuition-free, community-based, child-centered elementary school in East Oakland," she said. "That makes me happy, when I see children who are blossoming."

    The school was an oasis for her and for young people and families, she said. 

    While she was jailed for two years and separated from her infant daughter, Huggins taught herself to meditate, a practice that has sustained her ever since.

    "We worked 19-hour days. Of course, we were very young. But we didn't take very good care of ourselves," she said. "The Black Lives Mattersactivists are taking better care of themselves as they put themselves on the front lines of change. And I'm really happy to see that."
    To Huggins, watching a new, "heartfelt" movement spring up in the wake of police shooting of young men, means her efforts are bearing fruit.
    Her advice to today's generation of activists is to do everything with love, to ask people what they need.
    "Every single community service program that we started came from that love for people, not hatred of anyone, not reaction to anyone," she said. "If we forget love -- which is the reason why we put movements into flow -- if we forget, we just need to remember."

    Contact Raquel Maria Dillon: raquel.dillon@nbcuni.com and @RaquelMDillon