Revolutionary activist Dr. Huey Percy Newton was fatally shot at 47 years of age Aug. 22, 1989, on Center Street in the Lower Bottoms neighborhood of West Oakland, Calif., in the very same community where he and his comrades previously organized social programs that provided free meals, as well as medical care and self-defense training, to local youths. Along with Bobby Seale, he co-founded the renowned Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in October 1966.
On the 26th anniversary of his murder, a couple of individuals immensely influenced by his teachings reflected on the uncompromising militants’ legacy.
“When I was a teenager, I remember the images and had his picture up on my wall,” says New York Assemblyman and original Black Panther Charles Barron. “Brother Huey was the boldest, baddest Black man in America, who stood up for the Black masses because of his deep love for them.
“Not only did they defend and protect the Black community, they also fed and clothed them, they did acupuncture and cared for the health of the Black community… they forced this nation to do research on sickle-cell anemia, because it was a disease pertinent to the Black community.”
Newton devoted his entire life to creating better living conditions for his people, always advocating education and organizing. He eventually earned a Ph.D. in social philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1980.
“In light of Black people’s situation, when Huey P. Newton stepped forward to help found the Black Panther Party, there should have been thousands of Black people that stepped forward with him,” contends original Panther Brother Tarik Haskins. “Huey will always be regarded as a hero for his efforts to lift Black people up out of their hellish situation white supremacists keeps us in. Huey’s lesson in growth and behavior can be attributed to the 1 percent training him to arrive at numerous wrong conclusions. Long live Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party he helped found!”
Barron also mentioned some of Newton’s significant social contributions, including the Party’s 10 Point Program and their political aspirations.
“It is the Black Panther Party, under Newton’s leadership, that influenced over 22 states to pass legislation on free breakfast for children,” he reveals. “They also got into the electoral arena and ran Bobby Seale for mayor and Elaine Brown for City Council. Long live the spirit of Huey P. Newton. His courage is an example we need to duplicate all over this country … Stay ready for the revolution because it is inevitable!”
Tyrone Robinson, 24 at the time, a rival Black Guerilla Family member and alleged drug dealer, was arrested and confessed to killing Newton. In 1991, he was sentenced to 32 years to life.
Newton’s last words, as he stood facing his killer before being shot dead, supposedly were, “You can kill my body, and you can take my life, but you can never kill my soul. My soul will live forever!”