Bobby Seale

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Bobby Seale

Bobby Seale at Binghamton University, February 25, 2006
BornRobert George Seale
(1936-10-22) October 22, 1936 (age 75)
Dallas, Texas, USA
EducationMerritt College
OccupationActivist
Notable work(s)Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton
 
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Bobby Seale

Bobby Seale at Binghamton University, February 25, 2006
BornRobert George Seale
(1936-10-22) October 22, 1936 (age 75)
Dallas, Texas, USA
EducationMerritt College
OccupationActivist
Notable work(s)Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton

Robert George "Bobby" Seale[1] (born October 22, 1936), is an activist. He is known for co-founding the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton.

Contents

Early life

Seale was one of the three children born to his mother, a homemaker, and his father, a carpenter, in Dallas, Texas.[2] After moving around in Texas, his family relocated to Oakland, California during World War II. Seale attended Berkeley High School, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955.[3] He spent three years in the Air Force before he received a bad conduct discharge for fighting with a commanding officer.[2] Upon his arrival back in Oakland, Seale began working at different aerospace plants as a sheet metal mechanic, and attending night school to earn his high school diploma.

In 1962, at the age of 25, Seale began attending Merritt College, a community college located on what was then Grove Street, now Martin Luther King Jr Way, near the Berkeley city-limits. There he would join the Afro-American Association, (AAA) and met Huey Newton, with whom he later co-founded the Black Panther Party. Seale and co-founder Newton became increasingly skeptical about the direction of the AAA, particularly the AAA's tendency to analyze rather than act on the problems facing black Americans.

Black Panther

Seale on trial in 1970, State Attorney Arnold Markle in the background.

Seale and Newton, heavily inspired by Malcolm X, a civil rights leader assassinated in 1965, and his teachings, joined together in October 1966 to create the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and adopt the slain activist's slogan “Freedom by any means necessary” as their own. Seale became the chairman of the Black Panther Party and underwent FBI surveillance as part of its COINTELPRO program.[4]

Bobby Seale was one of the original "Chicago Eight" defendants charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot, in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, in Chicago. The evidence against Seale was slim as Seale was a last-minute replacement for Eldridge Cleaver and had been in Chicago for only two days of the convention.[5] Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him to four years of imprisonment for contempt because of his outbursts, and eventually ordered Seale severed from the case, hence the "Chicago Seven". During the trial, one of Seale's many outbursts led the judge to have him bound and gagged,[6][dead link] as commemorated in the song "Chicago" written by Graham Nash[7] and mentioned in the poem and song "H2Ogate Blues" by Gil Scott-Heron.[8]

The trial of the Chicago Eight was depicted in the 1987 HBO television movie Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8, whose script relied heavily upon transcripts from the court proceedings. Seale was portrayed by actor Carl Lumbly.

While serving his four-year sentence, Seale was put on trial again in 1970 in the New Haven Black Panther trials. Several officers of the Panther organization had murdered a fellow Panther, Alex Rackley, who had confessed under torture to being a police informant.[9] The leader of the murder plan, George Sams, Jr., turned state's evidence and testified that he had been ordered to kill Rackley by Seale himself, who had visited New Haven only hours before the murder. The New Haven trials were accompanied by a large demonstration in New Haven on May Day, 1970, which coincided with the beginning of the American college Student Strike of 1970. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in Seale's trial, and the charges were eventually dropped. Seale was released from prison in 1972.[2] While in prison Seale’s wife Artie became pregnant allegedly by fellow Panther Fred Bennett. Bennett’s murdered and mutilated remains were found in a suspected Panther hideout in April 1971.[10] Seale was implicated in the murder with police suspecting he had ordered it in retaliation for the affair. However, no charges were pressed.[11]

After his release from prison, Seale ran for Mayor of Oakland, California in 1973.[12] He received the second-most votes in a field of nine candidates[2] but ultimately lost in a run-off with incumbent mayor John Reading.[12] In 1974 Seale and Huey Newton argued over a proposed movie about the Panthers that Newton wanted Bert Schneider to produce. According to several accounts the argument escalated to a fight where Newton, backed by his armed bodyguards, beat Seale with a bullwhip so badly that Seale required extensive medical treatment for his injuries, went into hiding for nearly a year, and ended his affiliation with the Party.[13][14] Seale denied any such physical altercation took place dismissing rumors that he and Newton were ever less than friends.[15]

Life after the Party

In more recent years, Seale’s actions have complemented the more radical community-based ones of his past. In 1987, he wrote a cookbook called Barbeque'n with Bobby with the proceeds going to various non-profit social organizations,[6] and also advertised Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

In the early 1990s, Seale appeared on the TV documentary series Cold War, reminiscing about events in the 1960s. In 2002, Seale began dedicating his time to Reach!, a group focused on youth education programs. An instructional, nonprofit group helping people develop the necessary techniques and tools to set up community organizations within their neighborhoods. He has also taught black studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Seale appears in Roberto Bolaño's book 2666, renamed Barry Seaman.

In 2006 Seale appeared in the documentary film The US vs John Lennon to discuss his friendship with John Lennon.

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ Ancestry of Bobby Seale
  2. ^ a b c d Bobby Seale at Spartacus Educational
  3. ^ Bagley, Mark. Bobby Seale biography. Penn State University Libraries. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  4. ^ Archival newsfilm footage of a Bobby Seale press conference on police intimidation, from 1966: http://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/190422.
  5. ^ A Special Supplement: The Trial of Bobby Seale
  6. ^ a b Robert George Seale
  7. ^ Mr. Fish in Conversation With Graham Nash
  8. ^ H20-GATE BLUES (WATERGATE BLUES)
  9. ^ Two Controversial Cases in New Haven History: The Amistad Affair (1839) and The Black Panther Trials (1970)
  10. ^ The Palm Beach Post. Remote Panther Hideout was Slaying Scene. Apr 21, 1971
  11. ^ Jama Lazerow, Yohuru R. Williams. In search of the Black Panther Party: new perspectives on a revolutionary movement. Duke University Press. 2006. Pg 170
  12. ^ a b Bobby Seale at Penn State's online library
  13. ^ Kate Coleman and Paul Avery. The Party’s Over. New Times. July 10, 1978.
  14. ^ Hugh Pearson, The Shadow of the Panther, 1994
  15. ^ Former Black Panther draws crowd of more than 600

External links