BLACK PANTHER PARTY
On the corner of 55th Street and Market Street in North Oakland, there’s a four-way stop light. Prior to the installation of that light, that intersection was where a number of school children from nearby Santa Fe Elementary were hit by cars while attempting to cross the street.
It was through the actions of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense that a street light was established there in 1967. Two decades later, a group of students from UC Berkeley saw it fit to honor the Party’s efforts and commemorate them with a plaque on that street corner. That plaque still stands to this day, albeit it has been weathered and is in desperate need of repair.
As the next generation of activists, artists, students, and community members take agency in the ever-evolving city, it’s imperative that we honor the hallowed grounds on which we walk. The best way to do that is to inform people about the actions taken to make our community safer, happier and healthier. 2021 marks fifty-five years since the founding of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. In an effort to commemorate the actions taken by these young women and men, we are mounting a series of plaques at important locations, which will be inscribed with information about their historical significance.
The plaques will not only be an aesthetically pleasing way of explaining the significance of these actions taken by Party members, but will also have a QR Code that will lead readers to further media on the Party, as well as other resources if they’re interested in getting involved in current community actions.
Signs are made in collaboration with Pendarvis Harshaw & Damien McDuffie
55th and Market Street
On August 1, 1967 this stoplight was installed as a result of a community initiative spearheaded by the Black Panther Party. After several children attending the nearby Santa Fe Elementary School were killed and many injured by motorists at this intersection, the demand for a traffic signal by the Anti-Poverty Center and the Black Panther Party began in June, 1967. However, the Oakland City Council notified the community that a traffic signal would be erected no sooner that late 1968. Rather than allowing another death in the interim, a small cadre of armed Black Panthers stopped motorists and personally escorted children across the busy intersection. No further automobile-related deaths or injuries occurred at this location, and installation of the traffic signal began on August 1, 1967.
BPP National Headquarters 1048 Peralta Street
From 1970-1972, this site served at the location of the fourth official headquarters of The Black Panther Party. When The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in 1966, the first headquarters was on 56th Street and Grove Street. The Party relocated to 45th Street and Grove Street in 1968. The Party’s third home was 3106 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, and then in 1970 The Party moved to 1084 Peralta Street in West Oakland. They chose this location as it was an ideal location for The Party, nestled in the heart of the Black community. Prior to disbanding, the final home of The Party was 85th and E.14th Street in East Oakland.
Lil Bobby Hutton’s Memorial
28th and Union Street
On April 6, 1968 Lil Bobby Hutton, the youngest and first member of The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was shot and killed by members of the Oakland Police Department at this site. As the United States mourned, honored and participated in uprisings in the wake of the killing of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,a conflict between The Black Panther Party members and the Oakland Police Department came to a head. Lil Bobby was surrendering and unarmed when he was shot and killed. Hutton’s death was not only significant because of his age and his mark as the first member of The Party, but because this shooting was the first in a long line of documented instances of state sponsored violence against The Party.