Campus News

Bobby Seale to speak during UT Martin Civil Rights Conference


Contact 1: Erin Chesnut

MARTIN, Tenn. – Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, will serve as keynote speaker of the 18th-annual University of Tennessee at Martin Civil Rights Conference beginning at 7 p.m., Feb. 22, in Watkins Auditorium of the Boling University Center.

Seale co-founded the Black Panthers in the 1960s with fellow activist Huey Newton. The pair established the party’s 10-point program, “What We Want, What We Believe,” which declared, “We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our black community.” Seale and Newton quickly led the Black Panthers to international headlines with their militant stance for black freedom.

The Black Panthers challenged police brutality in California communities and protested the state government’s decision to make the open carrying of weapons illegal. The party also established a variety of “Serve the People” programs, including the Free Breakfast Scholarship Program which, at its height, served thousands of children in Oakland, California, and other areas of Black Panther activity.

The party also created free health clinics for black communities, highlighted the prevalence of lead poisoning in black communities and raised national awareness of sickle cell anemia through sickle cell testing programs.

UT Martin is one of only two universities nationally to host an annual civil rights conference. Events run through Feb. 24 and include a variety of speakers, discussion panels and performances to mark the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more information, contact Dr. David Barber, associate professor of history and conference organizer, at 731-881-7465 or email A complete list of conference events is available online at


PHOTO ID: Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. (Photos courtesy and

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