East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota decided to use Valentine's Day as a day to commemorate the Black Panther Party in a school-wide presentation. Apparently, the day set aside for all things love is the perfect day on which to roll out information about one of the most violent and militant groups in the USA's recent history.
According to the transcript obtained by a concerned parent (after the principal refused to honor her request for a written copy of the announcement that her son had heard that morning. A few hours later a district representative contacted her and gave her the transcript) the presentation, led by Social Studies teacher, Tishanna Brown, began with a reading of A Black Child's Pledge, by Shirley Williams, which was originally published in The Black Panther Newsletter on October 28, 1968:
The presentation went on:I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO MY BLACK PEOPLE.I PLEDGE TO DEVELOP MY MIND AND BODY TO THE GREATEST EXTENT POSSIBLE.I WILL LEARN ALL THAT I CAN IN ORDER TO GIVE MY BEST TO MY PEOPLE IN THEIR STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION.I WILL KEEP MYSELF PHYSICALLY FIT, BUILDING A STRONG BODY FREE FROM DRUGS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES WHICH WEAKEN ME AND MAKE ME LESS CAPABLE OF PROTECTING MYSELF, MY FAMILY AND MY BLACK BROTHERS AND SISTERS.I WILL UNSELFISHLY SHARE MY KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING WITH THEM IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE MORE QUICKLY.I WILL DISCIPLINE MYSELF TO DIRECT MY ENERGIES THOUGHTFULLY AND CONSTRUCTIVELY RATHER THAN WASTING THEM IN IDLE HATRED.I WILL TRAIN MYSELF NEVER TO HURT OR ALLOW OTHERS TO HARM MY BLACK BROTHERS AND SISTERS FOR I RECOGNIZE THAT WE NEED EVERY BLACK MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD TO BE PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY STRONG.THESE PRINCIPLES I PLEDGE TO PRACTICE DAILY AND TO TEACH THEM TO OTHERS IN ORDER TO UNITE MY PEOPLE.
"Good Morning, East Ridge! I'm _____________. 'Power to the People' and 'Black is Beautiful' are two of the slogans associated with todays "Black History Month" person, or should I say, "People" of the day. Today we commemorate Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, co-Founders of The Black Panther Party for Self Defense.
In October of 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. In the most part to address the rampant police brutality faced by many black communities around the country. The Panthers practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the U.S. Government, and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community based programs such as free lunch and medical programs. The party, consisting mostly of men and women under the age of 25, was one of the first organizations in U.S. history to militantly struggle for ethnic minority and working class emancipation" (SIC)
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font and lack of punctuation; evidence of the
teacher "cutting and pasting" info from
It is no wonder that with the glorification of such groups as the Black Panthers that there are people who are excusing and adoring another cop-killer this week, Christopher Dorner. It is no wonder that our kids have no real concept of American history when they are fed sound-bytes like the one above.
It is offensive to me and should be to any American that out of the many people and groups who could be honored for Black History month that East Ridge would choose The Black Panther Party as one that they chose to honor. I wonder if I were to go to the school, enter American History classes and ask random students who Hiram Revels was, if they'd know he was the first Black American elected to the Senate in 1870? Or what about CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) a group of which MLK was part, which focused on non-violent actions to gain racial equality? Google or Bing "Black Americans in History" and hundreds of links pop up - even a lazy teacher could do that and come up with better examples of Black Americans in History than the Black Panthers. Either the East Ridge Principal, Aaron Harper and his cohort Tishanna Brown are ignorant of the great tapestry of Black American History and too lazy to research examples of people worthy of honoring or they have an agenda that they are following to further some perverse purpose of encouraging children to believe that "militant self defense" against the US Government and police is ok as long as one is combining that with "free lunch and medical programs."
Another point: say a student's interest in the Black Panther Party was piqued during this presentation, so s/he goes online to check out the group. What will that student find? The following is an example of what a brief search would give that student:
In October of 1966, in Oakland California, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The Panthers practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the U.S. government, and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community based programs. The party was one of the first organizations in U.S. history to militantly struggle for ethnic minority and working class emancipation — a party whose agenda was the revolutionary establishment of real economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines.Oh, but wait, isn't that the EXACT language used by the teacher in the presentation? Why, yes, it is. Funny, but isn't that called PLAGIARISM? Which website did Ms. Brown steal this from? That's right, www.marxist.org. It looks like Ms. Brown cleaned it up and made it a bit nicer by adding "like free lunch and medical programs," but otherwise, she seems to have been at a loss as how to write an original statement about the Black Panthers herself.
But, never mind that, parents, there is no agenda here. This was an educational opportunity used to enlighten and educate the students on Black American History.