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Editor's Notes

By Chuck Armsbury, Senior Editor

Nora Callahan and I participated in the mid-October 40th Reunion of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, CA. In the city where Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Bobby Hutton, and Big Man Howard, with a handful of armed comrades, in 1967 began monitoring the Oakland Police Department on the street; a dangerous and courageous practice aiming to halt murderous police assaults on citizens.

The Reunion featured special workshops, rousing speeches and appeals to remember Panthers still in prison after 35, 36 years in Louisiana, California and New York states. With Big Man Howard -- an original 1967 Panther and its chief Party newspaper editor -- I co-chaired a solidarity workshop to recount how varying ethnic groups in the Sixties (Euro-Americans, too) overcame racist thinking with class solidarity, hard work done together, and deep commitment to revolutionary change from the bottoms up.

The BPP practiced what vocal critics demanding social reforms in the late 1960s seldom did. Panthers and any group following the 10 Point Program didn't just complain about hunger in America -- we started up free community breakfast programs to feed poor children of all colors. Got no doctor in the neighborhood? Open up a free medical clinic. Older people need firewood for heating? Go cut it for them. Police going nuts in your town? Call a public accountability meeting.

The 40th Reunion honored rank and file comrades who have little or no name recognition, unlike Seale and Kathleen Cleaver, and yet were the women such as Alice Spencer in Eugene, Oregon who fed, loved and instructed scores of hungry children five mornings a week in 1969-70.

Black Panther Party 40th Year Reunion, October 13-15, 2006, Oakland, CA.
Razor Wire Editor Chuck Armsbury stands in the upper left corner.

The Party's Legacy is rich with struggles, full of drama and fury, once-targeted by FBI's J. Edgar Hoover for death, and still quietly honored for defending US black communities and teaching the need to save ourselves through neighborhood and community survival programs that start with and rely on the people served.

The Jericho Movement honors the political prisoners of the BPP, and information on who are these imprisoned rank and file people is available at To learn more about the Panther's and allied group's history from The Day, contact:

Billy X Jennings, It's About Time Committee, PO Box 221100, Sacramento, CA 95822, Website:

Speaking of remembering those unknown rank and filers, Dr. Rod Campbell died in a federal prison last summer, allegedly a victim of extreme heat and medical neglect. Dr. Rod and I corresponded frequently over the last six years. A prisoner of the drug war, Rod had been a well-regarded chemist with a major pharmaceutical corporation before falling to a drug charge offense.

Rod lived to be 60, and like many men and women in custody today, his family had withdrawn contact. For years he used his university training in science to write letters, petitions, and well-researched legal documents for fellow prisoners. And he taught me the chemistry and the history of how methamphetamine, the once-legal "speed", became "meth" the current "monster" illuminating the drug warriors' latest public relations hysteria. I wrote a guest column for the Spokane, WA Spokesman Review using much of Dr. Rod"s writing:

Belatedly, I also remember Ann-Rose Pierce of Portland, Oregon who died in 2005. Ann-Rose was passionate about justice for the imprisoned, and she often would feature Nora live on her KBOO-FM program to talk about the war on drugs.

Pause with me to remember men and women like Rod Campbell and Ann-Rose Pierce as ordinary people who cared little for fame, those among us inside or outside who make it all right and alive, day after day, over the years. You know who you are.

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