SBX Celebrates Day of Unity With Bobby Seale
By Timothy Lewis
April 28th was National Super Hero Day, and a very super day it was for participants at the SBX: Youth and Family Services Unity Day celebration, as political activist and Black Panther Party cofounder Bobby Seale attended the meeting via Zoom.
Based in Moreno Valley, SBX: Youth and Family Services provides aid and resources to families and youth in the Inland Empire, with the mission to break the cycle of poverty and violence through mentoring, education, and community organization. SBX held their annual Unity Day, with the goal of uniting the African American community and allies in order to build a stronger, healthier community.
The special occasion was hosted by the organization’s CEO Corey Jackson who thanked his partners and collaborators at the NAACP Riverside Chapter and Riverside County University Health Systems’ Behavioral Health Program.
Born in Texas in 1936, Bobby Seale was known for breaking away from peaceful protest and was considered a black radical due to his beliefs of militant black empowerment. He later helped found the Black Panther Political Party with cofounder Huey Newton in 1966 where he would hold the seat of National Chairman. His actions in the civil rights movement were recently portrayed in the Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020).
Seale’s call to action and eventual formation of the Black Panther Party started in Oakland in 1962 during his time at Merritt College. Seale’s primary goal in founding the party was to organize and gain political clout in order to form legislation to change the lives of those whose voices and needs would have otherwise gone unheard.
Seale started his venture to connect with the community by building educational children’s programs, preventive medical assistance, as well as an Excelling in Testing Program for youth and families most often overlooked by government programs. By starting at the base level in local communities, Seale was able to demonstrate direct needs that were not being addressed by state government to impoverished black communities.
The Party gained increased media attention after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1968. Seale remembered watching Dr. King speak years before he formed the party and said he was so inspired by his words and charisma that he later quit his job as an engineer working on the Gemini missile program to join grassroots movements and become a full-time political activist for civil rights.
Bobby Seale took the initiative to allocate resources and funding which was instrumental in the Black Panther’s goal of building a political system that would aid the civil rights movement.
After sharing a bit about himself, Bobby Seale answered some questions from the participating youth and general audience. Dr. Regina Patton Stell, President of the NAACP Riverside Branch asked him what his message is to young people who are discouraged from the lack of change which he replied to “Stop, slow down, take the time to do your research.” Seale preached ideals of self-defense, but firmly believed in the power of peaceful demonstration as a tool for social change. When asked by one of the youth as to what Black Power meant to him, Seale told the young man, “Black Power is about gaining more political power so you can have fair-share equity, that’s what black power is to me.” Seale also implored anyone who was wishing to get involved in social activism to join their most progressive local organization and support them any way you can.
Bobby Seale, a fighter and true warrior for social justice still spends his time, at the ripe age of 84, helping those within his community. He is working on combatting homelessness by pushing for affordable housing. An engineer and architect by training, he is in the process of drawing up plans for eco-friendly affordable housing. He is looking for a non-profit organization to run the venture in order to ensure that the houses built never end up for sale on the market.
Seale showed participants of the Unity Day celebration how the notion of making a small difference in the community has the power to create large-scale change. He also left with words of encouragement saying, “Teach young brothers and sisters they have to evolve, research, understand, and read beyond the aesthetic of it. To take the time to know the science behind the cause.”