As activists and historians look back half a century this month to the birthplace of the Black Panthers in October 1966, those who want to walk in the footsteps of the party founders can do so – literally.
A San Francisco-based company called Detour has developed a Black Panther narrated walking tour where anyone who downloads the app can get a guided tour over a one-mile span of north Oakland. The tour launched last August and the developers did not immediately respond to a request seeking how many times it had been downloaded. October marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the party, and events are being celebrated at various places and parties all month.
Mwende Hahesy was one of the producers of the tour, along with colleagues Jason Jakaitis and Ian Davis.
“We mixed archival sounds and interviews,” she said. “We wanted people to realize the rich history right in Oakland.”
She said some of the highlights include:
- A walk past the former Merritt College on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which is now a research building for Children’s Hospital on Martin Luther King Way where party co-founders Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton first met. Renowned researchers who study sickle cell anemia now practice in this salmon-colored building.
- The former headquarters of the Black Panther Party, where the group's newspaper was printed. It's now an African-American shop, called the "It’s All Good Bakery," at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Aileen Street, where Seale used to live.
- Pedestrians will also walk by a community garden now run by activists Max Cadji and “Aunti Frances,” a woman who was adopted by the Black Panther movement and continues to feed the homeless today.
Plus, the tour offers a progressive, anti-gentrification political bent, saying that high-priced Oakland neighborhoods are pushing working class families from the area, which threatens to wipe out what the Black Panthers had worked for: social justice for people of color. Black Panther Exhibit at Cal
The tour is set to historical voices of the past, including Seale, Newton and former Panther Emory Douglas, and the funky beats of the Black Panther band at the time, The Lumpen.