The work of the Black Panther Party was laborious. In a previous interview, you said that members worked 19-hour days. Tell me about the moments of joy you found in the doing.
We felt joy when we saw the gratitude and the faces of people with all of our community survival programs. Or when the elders would come to free food giveaways and just smile and nod at us, as if to say, “You are doing good work.” We knew their conditions. We didn’t blame them for their own poverty. That’s something that has been a really ugly theory throughout the history of the United States: If you’re poor, it’s your fault. And there are even people of color who believe that that’s true, who believe in the bootstrap theory. But we knew that people didn’t have boots, or they would be pulling themselves up. So, we created 65 community survival programs to support the community, to uplift the people. And the joy was always there. I met the most phenomenal, incredible, compassionate, empathic men and…
Christina M. Tapper
This is an an amazing interview. I have studied the survivial programs, started by the Black Panther Party. I especially love the Free Breakfast For School Children Programs which provided food for black and poor children.
It was also amazing that she identified a major hinderance to the creation of survival programs: the stipulation that poor people are responsible for their own poverty.
I am encouraged after reading this. Thanks for interviewing her.