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Published on Sunday, July 30, 2000 in the Philadelphia Inquirer
Today's Protesters Must Learn From Past
by Bobby Seale
Right on time! The protest movement in America is alive, well organized, and kicking.

What will happen at the Republican National Convention this week? Will there be riots, arrests, indictments and court trials? Let's hope not. For my anti-political-convention protest back in the day, I was put in jail. It was another time, but we seized it.

Today's protesters have inherited an even greater burden of issues than we had in the '60s: global economic exploitation of the poor; human rights issues touching every single individual on earth; killer diseases; ecological degeneration and destruction.

These protesters have picked up the mantle of our '60s era, but with their own updated perspectives: That we live in an overdeveloped, fast-paced, high-tech, computerized, globalizing social order, still controlled by too many avaricious corporate interests - whom the Republicans avowedly support with draconian policies and legislative ignorance.

Back in the '60s, for the same basic advocacy, my Black Panther Party organization alone wound up with 28 dead and 68 wounded, with policemen at around 12 dead and 35 wounded. Thirty-two years later, I am living in Philadelphia, where many thousands of another generation of protesters promise to amass, march and demonstrate against the Republican Convention here in Philly, and later in Los Angeles. And I will be among the speakers.

I'll be summing up how things are different today, so far, from the late '60s, when eight people, including myself, won, as Jerry Rubin so aptly put it, "The Academy Awards of Protest," which were to be indicted and subjected to a literal "political" trial - the great Chicago Eight conspiracy trial, which became the Chicago Seven after I was chained, gagged and shackled to a chair for three days in Judge Julius Hoffman's federal courtroom. Then the judge, rest his racist soul, severed me from the trial and sentenced me to four years.

What do today's protesters need? Exactly what they've got at their disposal: the Internet, which allows activists to organize in a global but definitive way. Look at the success the Green Party has had in advocating its platform.

The Internet can help us evolve a greater direct democracy, in which the people have more decision-making power in opposition to the too many bought politicians. Our two-party system, much outmoded, has allowed politicians to double-talk their way around the bottom-line, human-rights issues, while rubberstamping the concentration of political and economic power with the corporate-money rich.

And there's a way of thinking today's protesters should adopt, especially suited for this new global reality. I call it the "non-linear analytical view." We must see how things are interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. That vision should guide the way we organize, the way we calculate the outcome of our liberation activity.

It's a way of thought that reflects fact and science and yet encompasses all ethnocentric views. That's the way we were trying to think in our '60s coalition politics, crossing all racial, ideological and organizational lines. (Most people ignored this fact about us, preferring to think of us as a one-race advocacy group.)

It's actually a way of seeing things as they are as comprehensively as possible. Such enlightened thinking is why the "pig" power structure attempted to terrorize us out of existence. You could find that kind of thinking in everyone from the Black Panther Party to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It exemplifies effective protest, and there has never been a better time for such thinking than now.

We did it then with our lives on the line. Today's protesters can do it on a higher, more profound global level today - all in the name of a future world of collaboration humanism, where decent relationships between peoples, nations, men and women and individuals and lifestyles, including all earth's essentialities, ultimately prevail.

And be ready for arrests, charges, indictments and trials. They come with the territory.

Bobby Seale, founding chairman and national organizer of the Black Panther Party, is author of "Seize the Time." His Web site is Bobby Seale and his e-mail addresses are and

Copyright 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers


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