#RIP // Elbert “Big Man” Howard

Founding Black Panther Party Member Elbert “Big Man” Howard Dies | Democracy Now! – And human rights activist, educator and founding member of the Black Panther Party, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, has died. Born in Tennessee in 1938, Howard was also the first editor of the Black Panther Party’s newspaper. This is Elbert “Big Man” Howard, speaking about visiting with prisoners during the 1971 Attica rebellion.

Elbert Howard: “The Panthers were there. I accompanied Bobby Seale and several other Panthers, and we went and we listened to the grievances of the inmates. And there was very little that we could do on the spot, other than we got party authorization to offer the inmates assistance if they wanted to leave the country, because at that time we had some friends—revolutionary friends—who would give them sanctuary, if we could encourage them to come out. And that was about all that we could offer. … And the day after we were there, he [the governor] issued the order to take the prison back at all costs.”

Elbert “Big Man” Howard died on Monday at the age of 80.

Ime Ekpo // Black Panther Party Co-founder Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard Dies at 80 | The Source – Bobby Seale, 81, Founding Chairman and National Organizer of the Black Panther Party took to Facebook to announce the news, giving his fellow revolutionary sincere acknowledgment.

“Today at 6:13 am, Elbert “Big Man”, one of the original founding members of the original Black Panther Party, joined the ancestors. Above all else, Elbert “Big Man” Howard loved his comrades and all oppressed people, who he never stopped fighting for..,” writes Seale. “Big Man would say, ‘All Power Belongs to the People.’”

Howard is one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party. From 1966-1974, he served as Deputy Minister of Information and was also a member of the Central Committee and the International Solidarity Committee. As a military veteran, he was instrumental in teaching Black Panthers how to handle guns but evolved into the party’s strongest force when it came to community organizing and outreach. This responsibility lured into the birth of the collective’s social programs for the youth, most notably the Free Breakfast for Children. He became the first editor of the party’s newspaper and helped the publication reach a 200,000 weekly circulation. Howard also played a major role in the party’s global exposure, as he served as international spokesman setting up chapters in Europe and Asia.

Activist and Black Panther co-founder, Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard, dies at 80 – People’s World – Howard at one time recalled the tension in the neighborhoods of Oakland, California, where he settled down in 1960 after serving in the Air Force from 1956. “Oakland seemed to have a thriving Black community with friendly people. However, the lines of segregation were clearly drawn with the city’s storm troopers there, to keep Black people in line and not crossing it without deadly consequences. These deadly consequences were carried out almost weekly with White cops killing Black citizens. Without exception it was officially termed ‘justifiable homicide’ by the police and city officials,” he explained.

The BPP ran a number of what it called Community Survival Programs. One of the most popular, the Free Breakfast for Children Program, saw the party set up kitchens providing meals to 20,000 school-aged children in 19 cities around the nation. The party also adhered to a Ten-Point Program that included ideals such as wanting full employment for African Americans, an immediate end to police brutality and murder, and “land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace,” for Black people. Howard’s ex-military background made him invaluable to party security and safety protocol. In a 2012 interview with the North Bay Bohemian, former BPP chairman Bobby Seale said of Howard, “We were ex-military…. We were able to show other party members the use of guns and weapons, and the safety of weapons…. Elbert Howard’s experience was invaluable.”

Black Panther Co-Founder Elbert “Big Man” Howard Dies at 80 | Smart News | Smithsonian – By Brigit Katz
July 26, 2018

Elbert Howard, a civil rights activist who was among the six original founders of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, has died. He was 80 years old and died after a “long illness,” according to the Associated Press.

Born in 1938, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Howard grew up amid a climate of acute racial violence; as a child, he saw one of his relatives being whipped by members of the Ku Klux Klan, reports Chris Smith of the Press Democrat. In the hopes of escaping discrimination in his home state, Howard enlisted in the Air Force as a teenager. After he was honorably discharged at the end of his term, Howard moved to Oakland, California and began studying at Merritt College. There, he met Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, who would become key figures in the changing face of black activism.

It was 1966—one year after Malcolm X was assassinated and Martin Luther King, Jr., staged his historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. In June of 1966, the black activist James Meredith was shot by a sniper after beginning his “March Against Fear” through the South. In October, a black teenager named Matthew Johnson was shot and killed by police in San Francisco.

That same month, Newton, Seale, Howard and three other men— Sherwin Forte, Reggie Forte and Bobby Hutton—established the Black Panther Party. The organization’s primary purpose at this time was to monitor police activity for possible abuses in black communities.

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