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Seize the Time

Seize the Time

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Black Panther Bobby Seale's book on the organisation and most well-known activist, Huey Newton. We do not agree with all the politics but reproduce it here for reference.

Seize the Time was first published more than twenty years ago. I [Bobby Seale] tape-recorded and wrote most of this book under the strain of being a political prisoner in the San Francisco County Jail in 1969 and 1970. At that time, most protest organizations, particularly anti-war and civil rights groups, were targeted for attacks by all levels of government. Seize The Time was published while I was incarcerated and a defendant in two major political trials-consecutive, racist, political trials that I eventually won.

I am often told that Seize The Time is a 1960's protest-era classic. Whether it is indeed a classic or not, I am uncertain. However, I am certain that the Black Panther Party For Self-Defense, as it was originally called, founded during that era and depicted in this book, remains a classic example of African and African American people's age-old resistance to racism and class oppression


Black Panther Bobby Seale's book on the organisation and most well-known activist, Huey Newton. We do not agree with all the politics but reproduce it here for reference.

Seize the Time was first published more than twenty years ago. I [Bobby Seale] tape-recorded and wrote most of this book under the strain of being a political prisoner in the San Francisco County Jail in 1969 and 1970. At that time, most protest organizations, particularly anti-war and civil rights groups, were targeted for attacks by all levels of government. Seize The Time was published while I was incarcerated and a defendant in two major political trials-consecutive, racist, political trials that I eventually won.

I am often told that Seize The Time is a 1960's protest-era classic. Whether it is indeed a classic or not, I am uncertain. However, I am certain that the Black Panther Party For Self-Defense, as it was originally called, founded during that era and depicted in this book, remains a classic example of African and African American people's age-old resistance to racism and class oppression

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Published by: Mosi Ngozi (fka) james harris on Jan 02, 2013
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In its embryo stage, early in 1967, the Black Panther Party was working with the advisory

committee of the poverty program to get a traffic light at the corner of Fifty-fifth and Market

Streets in Oakland, because kids were getting hurt and killed regularly on that corner.

I used to work near this corner when I was working on the poverty program. Almost every

other day, there would be some kind of accident - a wreck or somebody'd get hit crossing the

street, etc. Huey and I found out that two kids coming from the Santa Fe School, which is

only a block from that particular corner, had been killed and another injured. Shortly before

this, a girl had been killed there around seven months before; a young white girl, riding a

motorcycle, got hit there, too. A car hit her arid her leg was all busted up. Someone started to

talk about how our kids were getting killed on this corner on their way to school. So Huey

said the city should have had a street light here on this corner a long time ago, and we should

work to see that we get a street light.

A lot of kids were getting out of school when this young girl got hit. A bunch of them saw

Huey, and they ran up to him, and asked him was he the Minister of Defense of the Black

Panther Party? They all gathered around Huey - he had about twenty, twenty-five of them

around him - and Huey was telling them, right then, that there ought to be a street light on

this corner. Huey had already more or less organized little Pennywell, twelve-year-old

Pennywell, because he hung around the office. Huey told him that he was the captain of the

Junior Panthers, and to organize the brothers to understand the basic political desires and

needs of black people and to learn the revolutionary principles, and to tell them that when

they're sixteen years old, if their mother wants them to carry a gun, she could sign a

statement to let them, and we would teach them how to use a gun and defend themselves and

the people of the black community.

But right then Huey was concerned about this light. When a few older people walked up,

Huey got into a conversation with them. You know, when an accident happens, people will

come around and naturally voice their opinions. "Lord, somethin's got to be done about this.

There's always a wreck goin' out here," an old woman said. "Somethin's gotta be done about

it. Every time I turn around I hear some brakes squeakin' out here, and an ambulance comin'

down."

Huey said, "Well, they shoulda put a light here a long time ago," and through conversations

with the people, Huey learned about the two kids who got killed and the one who had been

injured coming from the school.

Three days later there was an advisory committee meeting at the North Oakland Poverty

Center. Huey said we had to bring this up to the people, that we had to make a grievance

concerning the light. The whole staff of the North Oakland Service Center was concerned

about it because so many accidents had taken place and because people's conversations had

begun to center around it. There had also been one accident where a car had literally run into

the poverty center building on a weekend when we weren't working there. We came to work

one Monday morning and the stairs were all banged up and half the building torn apart and

busted in, so people became very concerned. So Huey, walking around talking about how we

have to have a signal light there, began to arouse the interest of the people in and around the

service center. At the time he was a part-time community organizer with the North Oakland

poverty program.

Huey was actually what they call a neighborhood organizer. He was supposed to go out and

get names and addresses of people who wanted to relate to the multiservice poverty center at

Fifty-fifth and Market. He really got fed up with just getting names, but he saw the real

validity of getting names and making contact with the people, to inform and educate the

people, not only about the multiservice center but about the ten-point platform and program

of the Black Panther Party.

So Huey, some of the people on the staff, and some of the people on the advisory council of

the local poverty center, brought the light up and decided that we were going to get up a

petition. Somebody found out some legal facts concerning people who lived two blocks each

way from an intersection. We got the petitions together. Huey and I went around and got all

these people to sign the petitions concerning the necessity of a light there, and then gave it to

the advisory council, and the advisory council submitted it to the Oakland City Council. The

Oakland City Council sent information back saying that, based on a report from the street

engineers, they couldn't put a traffic light on that corner until late 1968.

But Huey P. Newton says, "Well, we're gonna have to have a red light there. If we don't have

a red light there, the Black Panther Party is gonna come forth, and the Black Panther Party

will direct traffic there until you get a light put up even if that means that we tie traffic up for

fifty blocks. We think the light should be here readily, and we also think we should have an

officer here to direct traffic when the traffic is so heavy. Many of the people passing Fifty-

fifth and Market," Huey said, "are middle-class white people going to their homes after work

in the evening, and many of them are coming by when traffic is heavy, around 3:30 when our

kids get out of school. We've already had two children killed here, and one injured, and

there's an accident on the average of one every other day. It's very dangerous. We want a

light or we're gonna direct the traffic ourselves. The Black Panther Party's gonna come forth.

We'll have our guns with us, and we're gonna stop the cars so our kids coming from school

and other people in the community will be served by the Black Panther Party."

This got out in downtown Oakland, and I guess about a month-and-a-half or two months

passed, and it came back to the poverty center and came through the staff there. We got off

into other things with the Party, but we went back and checked, and people in the poverty

center said a few of the members of the advisory committee were still making efforts to

make sure the light got there, by late 1967, instead of late 1968. Right around August 1, they

begin to drill holes, and knock holes in the ground and put the light up, and the light was up

by late October 1967. So that was the Panther Party in another type of initial phase, working

in conjunction with members of the community.

The kids who were standing on the corner that day when one of the big accidents happened,

the twenty-five or so who crowded around Huey, had in a sense already been organized.

They were relating quicker, they were relating more meaningfully - of course their minds

hadn't been destroyed yet by this racist power structure and all its brainwashing - than the

cultural nationalists and the jive intellectuals in the colleges. So Huey organized what he

called a Junior Panther group. He would never let these young brothers come into the office,

because we always had guns in the office at Fifty-sixth and Grove. He said we were going to

set up a place - one of the churches maybe - where we could teach them some Black History

and some revolutionary principles, teach them how to use them and how to apply them. This

is very important, knowing how to apply the revolutionary principles. This is what Huey was

all about in placing the Panther Party in motion. These young brothers began at twelve,

thirteen, or fourteen. Junior Panthers. Everyone from sixteen years of age and up was treated

like a man. If he wasn't a man, he could get on out of the Party.

Then we had an intermediate group going down from twelve to eight years old. Little

twelve-year-old Penny-well was trying to organize them like Huey was organizing, because

he related to Huey, he loved Huey, because Huey was the defender of the black community.

So Huey told him he was captain of the Junior Panthers in North Oakland. These young

brothers were crazy about Huey. They used to come up to me: "You Bobby Seale, ain't you?

Huey's partner?" I'd say, "Right, brother, I'm Bobby Seale. I'm Huey P. Newton's partner. We

stick together. Huey's our Minister of Defense." Brother Huey was a symbol to these

brothers and sisters, in a way that other black organizations had never been.

Those twenty-five kids standing on the corner there might see a pig drive by, look at his

marked car, and say, "Racist cop, you swine!" Huey had a term. He used "swine" a lot.

"Swine, racist cop!" They would imitate Huey. There were just those twenty-five young

brothers - twenty-five little Huey Newtons. That's what is so significant to Huey's name. He

would see these kids walking home from school, anywhere from twelve or thirteen all the

way down to six, maybe five years old. He'd play with them a little and teach them. The

signal light that was needed so badly was not there, and two kids had been killed on that

corner and one had been injured. This is what Huey related to. This was survival.

Huey would talk about laws being made by mankind to serve mankind, and once those laws

stop serving mankind, they must be changed so they do serve mankind. This is Huey P.

Newton. It was necessary to make political pressure, so that change, revolutionary change,

ultimate change, could take place. We have to understand this change that Huey was talking

about. Huey would say, "If people are getting killed on a corner, you have to change it. You

have to alter it completely."

How do you alter it? Huey says some law has to be made, some law has to be instituted or

something has to be initiated by the lawmakers to say that the situation that exists here now,

at Fifty-fifth and Market, has to be grossly changed. "Go to the lawmakers and tell them that

we want a signal light here. Hear ye, hear ye, lawmakers, would really be the cry. We need a

signal light here now, we want it here now, because young children are getting killed; the

same young children who must mold the world to change it; young children on the streets

who are coming home from school, from a school where they're getting brainwashed, or

getting killed and murdered. You lawmakers are not making laws, are not making

propositions or resolutions, are not instituting things to serve the people." This is the

meaning of the children. You have to understand Huey in this fashion. He liked them.

There was a little boy who lived next door to him. They called him Junior. Every time me

and Huey'd drive up there, he'd run up to see the car. Huey was trying to help him learn how

to ride his bicycle. Huey said, "Let him go. He'll learn. He'll learn." Huey has faith in

children. He has faith in small children, growing up in the confines of their environment. I

guess the reason he has faith in children is because he has faith in himself, and to have faith

in yourself is only to be human, and only to be human is the foundation of why and where

faith comes from.

Faith is not a mythical bullshit thing. Faith is where you directly relate yourself to reality.

Huey could perceive a young brother trying to ride a bicycle. Even with training wheels on,

he'd fall off of it. Huey'd help him back up; and say, "Go on, ride it! Go on, now, Junior!

Ride it!" Sometimes Junior would get bad, and Huey'd threaten to spank him, but Huey didn't

spank him. Huey wasn't thinking about spanking him, Huey was trying to get him to relate to

his environment. That little boy Junior was only four-and-a-half or five years old. Huey

could understand the difference between children learning and living in their environment.

That's why these brothers in the Santa Fe grammar school, having to cross that intersection

there, wanted that light there. They wanted it so that they could survive.

Huey P. Newton wanted that light there on the corner, and worked to see that the light was

there. If the power structure didn't put it there, the Panther Party was going to come out,

block traffic, and direct traffic so that our young kids wouldn't die; so they would survive. It's

that simple and it's that basic. These are the things that brother Huey is dedicated to. I know

he is dedicated to them, because I felt it. I respected Huey, I say, "Racist cop, you swine!"

Huey had a term. He used "swine" a lot. "Swine, racist cop!" They would imitate Huey.

There were just those twenty-five young brothers - twenty-five little Huey Newtons. That's

what is so significant to Huey's name. He would see these kids walking home from school,

anywhere from twelve or thirteen all the way down to six, maybe five years old. He'd play

with them a little and teach them. The signal light that was needed so badly was not there,

and two kids had been killed on that corner and one had been injured. This is what Huey

related to. This was survival.

Huey would talk about laws being made by mankind to serve mankind, and once those laws

stop serving mankind, they must be changed so they do serve mankind. This is Huey P.

Newton. It was necessary to make political pressure, so that change, revolutionary change,

ultimate change, could take place. We have to understand this change that Huey was talking

about. Huey would say, "If people are getting killed on a corner, you have to change it. You

have to alter it completely."

How do you alter it? Huey says some law has to be made, some law has to be instituted or

something has to be initiated by the lawmakers to say that the situation that exists here now,

at Fifty-fifth and Market, has to be grossly changed. "Go to the lawmakers and tell them that

we want a signal light here. Hear ye, hear ye, lawmakers, would really be the cry. We need a

signal light here now, we want it here now, because young children are getting killed; the

same young children who must mold the world to change it; young children on the streets

who are coming home from school, from a school where they're getting brainwashed, or

getting killed and murdered. You lawmakers are not making laws, are not making

propositions or resolutions, are not instituting things to serve the people." This is the

meaning of the children. You have to understand Huey in this fashion. He liked them.

There was a little boy who lived next door to him. They called him Junior. Every time me

and Huey'd drive up there, he'd run up to see the car. Huey was trying to help him learn how

to ride his bicycle. Huey said, "Let him go. He'll learn. He'll learn." Huey has faith in

children. He has faith in small children, growing up in the confines of their environment. I

guess the reason he has faith in children is because he has faith in himself, and to have faith

in yourself is only to be human, and only to be human is the foundation of why and where

faith comes from.

Faith is not a mythical bullshit thing. Faith is where you directly relate yourself to reality.

Huey could perceive a young brother trying to ride a bicycle. Even with training wheels on,

he'd fall off of it. Huey'd help him back up, and say, "Go on, ride it! Go on, now, Junior!

Ride it!" Sometimes Junior would get bad, and Huey'd threaten to spank him, but Huey

didn't spank him. Huey wasn't thinking about spanking him, Huey was trying to get him to

relate to his environment. That little boy Junior was only four-and-a-half or five years old.

Huey could understand the difference between children learning and living in their

environment. That's why these brothers in the Santa Fe grammar school, having to cross that

intersection there, wanted that light there. They wanted it so that they could survive.

Huey P. Newton wanted that light there on the corner, and worked to see that the light was

there. If the power structure didn't put it there, the Panther Party was going to come out,

block traffic, and direct traffic so that our young kids wouldn't die; so they would survive.

It's that simple and it's that basic. These are the things that brother Huey is dedicated to. I

know he is dedicated to them, because I felt it. I respected Huey, I highly respected him, just

for that little small gesture - because he saw that the light, the signal light on the corner at

Fifty-fifth and Market served the people, served the black people living in the black

community. It helped to keep young kids from dying, helped to keep the young brother

named Junior from dying, and would give him a chance to learn to live and survive and exist.

It helped to keep them surviving and keep them living so that they would understand that

they have to mold the world, to change the world, so that they can voice their basic desires

and needs as human beings. Huey is so human. He wants those kids to survive. But some

people didn't know or understand this.

Some teachers got together and said Huey was teaching young kids to use guns. They lied to

the parents. Huey didn't let kids in the office. He didn't let them in because we had guns

there. He told them they had to learn Black History and revolutionary principles and grow up

to be men, and defend their people in the black community. Huey finally had a whole little

Black History class going on at the service center when he was a community organizer,

because he convinced the people there that he could bring those little brothers in there, and

teach them a lot of things that are going to be very related to their future survival as human

beings - as black people in the black community. Then the little kids would be able to oppose

the lies the teachers were telling them about their history, and the teachers - many of whom

were white - with their egos, with their misconceptions of the black community, spread lies

about Huey. I say white not in the context of the color of their skin, but white in relation to

their puritanical views, to the absolutist concepts they were trying to drill into the kids'

heads. These absolutist concepts are very directly related to racism.

These kids would speak about things that Huey had taught them about Black History, about

great men in Black History. The teachers would oppose them, and many times the kids

would mention that Huey P. Newton teaches them, and shows them the true way of thinking

and understanding ourselves and our lives, helping us survive, etc. The teachers were trying

to oppose Huey P. Newton by trying to hurt the children. To oppose Huey, they called up'

the mothers, and told the mothers that Huey had them in the office using guns, which was a

lie.

So this is the meaning of that red light at the corner. How Huey taught the young brothers to

survive; how the teachers in the school told lies to the mothers and other people about Huey.

Just as Huey saw the gun as a necessary tool of black people's liberation, he saw the young

people as the basis and foundation of it.

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