All power to the people!
worked with the Black Panther Party from 1970 to 1974. If we had a
government that truly served the needs of the people, we wouldn't have
had a need to exist. But we don't have a government that serves the
needs of the people....
was born in Mississippi. In 1955, I was in Mississippi when Emmett Till
was savagely murdered. I often followed my grandfather with his mule,
plowing the red clay in Mississippi. While in medical school, from 1963
to 1967, I worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
In 1965, the first Black Panther Party that I supported was the Lowndes
County Freedom Party in Alabama. I even had a Black Panther bumper
sticker on my car. Lowndes County was a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan; the Lowndes County
Black Panther workers carried guns to protect themselves from the Ku
Klux Klan. 90 percent of Lowndes County was black; yet, no black folks
could vote. When Huey [Newton heard] about the Lowndes County Black
Panther Party, that's where [he] got the conception of the Black
1968, I came to Oakland to intern at Highland Hospital. In 1970, I went
by the Black Panther office and told June Hilliard, "If you ever need a
doctor, give me a call." Within days, the FBI attempted to contact Dr.
Malcolm Nelson, the medical director of Highland Hospital, to inform
him that Dr. Tolbert Small had agreed to work with the Black Panther
Party. However, who did the FBI talk to? They didn't talk to the
medical director; they talked to my intern, David Nelson, who shared
the same last name as the medical director. Through COINTELPRO, the FBI planted 67 paid agents into the 45 Black
Panther Party chapters. COINTELPRO and contradictions within the Black
Panther Party played a significant role in the demise of the party....
let's go back to the time when the Panther Party was founded. In 1966
racism firmly ruled this land. Our televisions portrayed the
traditional black actor's role as a servant, such as Beulah. Northern
inner-city police terrorized the Black communities. Southern Black
travelers faced the dilemma of either sitting in the back of the bus or
facing the threat of a lynching. Northern medical schools satisfied
their quotas by admitting one or two Black students in each class.
Southern medical colleges traditionally admitted no Black students.
Thus the ghetto's health care mirrored the institutional racism of our
society. Bobby Seale was aware of racism in health care. It was his
idea to set up our national Sickle Cell Anemia Program. As national
chairmen of the Black Panther Party Sickle Cell Anemia Project, we
dramatized the American government's neglect of sickle cell anemia. [Today] every major city in this country [has] a sickle cell anemia project.
I think we have to remember that although the Black Panther Party has come and gone, its spirit still lives.
Unfortunately, racism and poverty have not come and gone. As we begin
this century, racism no longer struts on the front porch of the White
House. It crawls through the back door of our ruling circles.
Thank you. All power to the people!
Dr. Tolbert Small