By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter was born in Los Angeles, California in 1942. In his earlier days, Carter was a member the Slauson street gang, he was so well-respected, he was nicknamed the “Mayor of the Ghetto” and was also a member of that gang’s extremely tough inner circle called the “Renegades”.
Carter would later be convicted of armed robbery and would be incarcerated at Soledad prison for four years. While in prison he was influenced by the teachings of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X and would eventually convert to Islam.
He would later renounce Islam and focus his time and energy on the black Liberation movement.
After being released from prison, Carter would meet Huey Newton, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and would join the organization.
In the early part of 1968, Carter would form the Southern California chapter of the B.P.P and would be that chapter’s leader, like all chapters of the group, they studied politics, trained firearms, first aid and read party literature. They also had a free breakfast program for poor, economically-disenfranchised black youths. By April of that same year, the chapter was becoming so popular it was gaining between fifty to a hundred new members a week.
As the B.P.P continued to grow and popularity, they would become targets of Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ) and it’s director J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI’s secret division known as the Counter Intelligence program ( cointelpro ) it would later be revealed in Senate Testimony, that they worked with local police to sabotage, intimidate and harass members of the party.
During the time between 1968-69, many warrantless searches, false arrests occurred and several members of the black organization would be killed.
Towards the end of 1969, J. Edgar Hoover sent out orders to FBI field offices to : “exploit all avenues of creating dissension within the ranks of the BPP”, and “submit imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP” . In Southern California, the FBI would also work hard to exploit the rivalry between the BPP and the black nationalist organization called “US”, which was founded by Ron Karenga. The two groups had very different approaches about how they battled systematic white supremacy, and often times found themselves completing over the same potential recruits.
On January 17, 1969, Carter and fellow Black Panther named John Huggins were allegedly heard making uncomplimentary statements about the head of US, Ron Karenga. An altercation would ensued , which would lead to the murders of Carter and Huggins.
The Panthers would claim that it was an assassination on their leadership, while the US organization would claim that it was a spontaneous event. Claude Hubert, the man who allegedly killed Carter and Huggins would never be captured.
In 1975, during the Church Committee hearings, evidence was revealed that proved that the FBI’s Counter intelligence program, under the direction of Hoover, covertly sent out disinformation, fake death threats and humiliating cartoons to the Panthers and US organization, pretending they were from the other group with the hope of causing conflict and inciting violence between the two black Liberation groups.
Bunchy Carter tribute
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Bobby Hutton (Robert James Hutton) was born on April 21, 1950, in Jefferson County, Arkansas. He was the son of John D. Hutton and Dolly Mae Mitchner-Hutton. At the age of three, Bobby and his family moved to Oakland, California after his family was visited by a group of white supremacists, threatening to harm his family.
As an adolescent, Hutton would meet Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the two founders of the Black Panther Party in North Oakland, at the government funded Neighborhood Anti-Poverty Center, a program dedicated to the employment of local youths for service projects.
In 1966, at the age of 16, Hutton would become the first recruited member and also the first treasurer of the Black Panther Party.
In May of 1967, Hutton with thirty Black Panther Party members traveled to Sacramento, California to protest the Mulford Act at the state Capital , a bill that would make it illegal to carry loaded firearms while in public, when Hutton and others walked into the state assembly, he and four other panthers were arrested.
On April 6, 1968, during a failed ambush attempt on Oakland police, which was led by Elridge Cleaver, and was supposed to be blacklash for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. , who was killed 2 days early, Hutton was killled during the shootout with the cops. Cleaver claimed that OPD shot Hutton more than a dozen times after he had already surrendered . Cleaver would later say ” What they did was first degree murder.”
Hutton’s funeral was held on April 12, at Ephesians Church of God in Berkeley, several famous people attended, including activist and author James Baldwin and actor Marlon Brando. At the time of his death, Bobby Hutton was only 17 years old.
Short artistic video on the legacy of Bobby Hutton
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Ella Josephine Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia. She was raised with her parents Georgiana and Blake Baker. At the age of 7, her family moved to her grandmother’s hometown of Littleton, North Carolina, a Small rural town. There she would hear great historic tales of courageous slave revolts, including the story of her maternal grandmother, Josephine Elizabeth “Bet” Ross, who was whipped by her master for refusing to marry a man, her master had chosen for her.
Baker would attend Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she would graduate as class valedictorian in 1927, during her college days, she also built a reputation for standing up against school policies that she believed to be unjust. After college she moved to New York City.
In 1931, Baker would join the young Negroes Cooperative League (YNCL) which was a group dedicated to black economic empowerment, she would soon raise to the rank of national director of the organization.
During the 1930’s Baker worked with the Worker’s Education Project of the Works Progress Administration , there taught classes in labor history, African history and consumer education. She would also immerse herself into the political atmosphere of the time, by protesting Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia and supporting the campaign to free the Scottsboro defendants in Alabama, a group of black youths, she believed were falsely accused of raping two white women. At around this time, Baker began to advocate for nationwide, local activism as a means of achieving political change.
Baker believed grassroots activism did not need charismatic leaders with a messiah complex, instead she believed and taught that the struggle should be fought by we the people in the streets, on a grassroots level.
In late 1940, Baker began working for the National Association for the Advancement of colored people (NAACP), where she first worked as a secretary, then soon began recruiting new members locally, raising money and organizing local events. She rose fast in the organization, and in 1945 was named Director of Branches.
In 1946 Baker returned to New York, to take care of her niece, which forced her to leave her leadership role in the NAACP. She would still continue to volunteer for the organization on a local level. She would soon join the New York chapter of the NAACP, where she worked hard to end segregation in public schools and police brutality against black people. In 1952 she would become president of the New York chapter.
Baker would resign from the organization in 1953 to run for New York City, city council as a member of the Liberal Party, she was unsuccessful in her bid for city office.
In 1957 Baker traved to Atlanta, Georgia to take part in a conference that was supposed to build on the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, in February of that same year, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed.
The organization’s aim was to unite black churches and their leaders, who fought against systematic white supremacy in the south, as they used nonviolent protests to fight against systematic white supremacy oppression. Baker was the organization’s first staff member, she soon began to organize voter registration, assist local activists with their local grievances, helping local civil rights activists in states like Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
In 1960, Baker insisted the SCLC invite southern student protestors, who were having desegregation
sit-ins to Shaw University, for a youth civil rights conference, to discuss their struggles and go over possible solutions with the young activsts in attendance. At this meeting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was created. SNCC would become the most active civil rights organization in the Delta region of the United States. After the conference, Baker would resign from the SCLC and would become an advisor to the SNCC activsts.
In 1964 Baker would help organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party ( MFDP) which was to be an alternative to the racist and all-white Mississippi party.
From 1962-1967 Baker worked as staff for the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) , which was an interracial organization, that fought for social justice issues, human rights and fought against segregation.
In 1972 Baker Traveled the nation to give her support in the “Free Angela” campaign, the objective was to get justice for civil rights activist Angela Davis, whose supporters believed was targeted unlawfully by law enforcement for her political and activism activities.
Towards the end of her life, she still continued to support many causes including the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, she supported many women’s groups and spoke out against the brutally racist South African apartheid regime.
In 1986, on her 83rd birthday she died.
Cornel West thoughts on the great civil rights activist Ella Baker.
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