By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer
Doug Morris, a professor of reading at Eastern New Mexico University, will be presenting “The Rise and Fall of the Black Panthers” 6 p.m. Monday at Ground Zero.
“I’m interested in history and what the Black Panthers were attempting to contribute,” Morris said. “I think we’ll try to talk about the rise and fall of the Panthers. What were the conditions that produced the Panthers and the responses to those conditions by the Panthers.”
Morris said the Black Panthers Party for Self-Defense was an African-American organization that promoted Black Power in 1966. The group started in Oakland, Calif., before spreading nationwide to include 67 chapters, Morris said.
“What are the myths and lessons that can be learned from the Black Panthers and their struggles?” Morris asked. “The myths were that they were only interested in violence, taking up arms to fight back and (Panthers) often get put into a fairly narrow corner that way.”
Morris said Black Panthers were made up of mostly teenagers and young men who started responding to police brutality, poor housing conditions and other injustices in African-American neighborhoods.
African-American Affairs Director Jordan Anderson said the Black Panthers fall along the same lines of aggressiveness in Black History as Malcom X.
“This week I wanted (the tone) to be a little darker,” Anderson said. “You need both sides to make the train move…you need the passive and the aggressive for progression.”
The Black Panthers started out on a positive note and while they became aggressors, they were about community, said Anderson
“They wanted everything that Martin Luther King Jr., envisioned,” Shani Morris, African-American Affairs student assistant said. “They just went about a different way of getting it and then they turned against themselves.”