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ERIC Number: EJ764791
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Feb-8
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1557-5411
Lum, Lydia
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, v23 n26 p36-40 Feb 2007
Ask the average person what comes to mind at the mention of the Black Panther Party (BPP). Odds are the answer involves armed African-Americans winding up in shootouts with police. Those images have overshadowed the Panthers' free breakfast programs, medical clinics and other efforts to improve poor Black neighborhoods in the late 1960s. Also overshadowed is the fact that a handful of Asian Americans were heavily involved in the Panthers. One of them, Richard Aoki, was a friend of BPP founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and influenced their ideology and the contents of the famous Ten Point Platform. Aoki was among the first dozen BPP members, rising to field marshal status. During the same period, at least two Asian Americans in Seattle became Panthers as well. Yet the stories of the "Asian Panthers" are not well known even among scholars who study the Black power movement. Although BPP members were overwhelmingly Black, a handful were of Asian or Hispanic descent, says Dr. Diane Fujino, an associate professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who is working on Aoki's biography. The non-Black members were few, and generally widely dispersed geographically, she says. Aoki kept his Panther membership hidden for more than two decades to protect his safety, some of the details of his involvement are murky. For his part, Aoki finds it "a little amazing" that Fujino's students, who are young enough to be his grandchildren, consider him inspiring. While Aoki was perhaps the only Asian American to become a BPP leader, the rank-and-file Asian Panthers made an impact, too. BPP member Mike Tagawa of Seattle described himself as "a foot soldier" who did weapons training and cleaning for Panthers there.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California