I admire the leadership of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the co-founders of The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, in Oakland, California. The organization was started in 1966 to bring awareness to -- and protect Black people from -- police brutality in their communities.
Huey Newton, who earned his PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, studied the gun laws of California and educated other Panthers about how to arm themselves legally to protect their families and friends from the illegal actions of Oakland police.
It wasn’t uncommon for members of the Black Panther Party to recite their rights, under California law, when stopped by law enforcement. I’m making this point not to engage in the gun-control debate, but to demonstrate how knowledge can be translated into power.
There is a verse in the Bible that says, “People are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.” I believe knowledge is enhanced by information. The more I live, the more I realize one of the easiest ways to oppress others is by withholding information, thus restraining knowledge.
During chattel slavery in America, the enslaved were denied the opportunity to learn to read, for the purpose of keeping them in an oppressed condition. In our current context, the disenfranchised are often kept in a condition of oppression simply because those in power don’t want to lose power, position, or privilege.
The Black Panthers coined the phrase: “Power to the People.” Power should reside with the people and not tyrannical institutions. Information is the key to knowledge, and knowledge is power.
I’m Joe Mitchell, and this is my perspective…..