Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

New Vice President leadership at Laney announced
New Vice President leadership at Laney announced
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Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • May 13, 2024
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Student Trustee Natasha Masand finds her voice
Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024
Archives
Peralta Trustee Paulina Gonzalez Brito addresses the crowd at Berkeley City College’s 50th anniversary celebration. The event featured a block party along with a groundbreaking ceremony for the college’s new Milvia Street building. (Photo: Marcus Creel/PCCD)
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Desmond Meagley, Staff Writer • March 4, 2024
Archives

    BSU Brings Black Panther Power to Laney — Black-Panther inspired brunch bridges generational…

    by Michelle Snider

    Rev. Wanda Johnson spoke in the student center about the killing of her son by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle.

    Big names spoke at Laney College Student Center on Feb 12–14 as part of the Black Student Union “Black Panther Brunch.” The event featured a hot meal and speakers who educated Laney students on the past, present and future of the Black Panther Party.

    Emphasizing the importance of education and justice, speakers Saturu Ned and Rev. Wanda Johnson came to Laney as part of the BSU’s busy calendar of events for students during Black History Month.

    The event was hosted by BSU President Kevin “Chief Black” Taylor and was held in the Student Center. Ned is an original Black Panther who was involved with the Free Breakfast Program and the Oakland Community School.

    Johnson is Oscar Grant’s mom. She started the non-profit Oscar Grant Foundation after the criminal trial and conviction of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle for the Jan. 1, 2009, killing of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART Station.

    The mission of the foundation is to bridge the gap of distrust between individuals in at-risk communities and law enforcement, according to the website.

    Taylor started the program by reciting the Ten Points of the Black Panther Program.

    The Ten Points are still relevant to many activist movements today and demand freedom, justice, employment, housing, education and an end to police brutality.

    As the event continued, plates of scrambled eggs, crispy fried chicken, and sweet waffles were served for free to the audience.

    Ned spoke about the bridge between what the Black Panther Party did in the late 60’s and 70’s to today.

    When the Black Panther Party was formed, people of all races worked together, he said.

    BSU advisor Hope Lane serves breakfast at the Black Panther Brunch Feb. 13.

    Ned was nineteen when he joined the party, and was in Sacramento in 1969 when the FBI launched its Counterintelligence Program, or COINTELPRO. The program targeted the Black Panther Party party with attacks on their offices. They also spread misinformation between members and had local law enforcement frequently pulled over members as they drove.

    “I am a survivor of the attack at the Sacramento office,” Ned said. “They came in and destroyed the breakfast program, the health clinic — it was a constant thing that took place.”

    The Black Panther Party started in Oakland at Merritt College on Grove Street renamed MLK Way in 1984. Many new Black Panther members came from colleges or had just come back from serving in Vietnam.

    Much of the movement came from a feeling that arrived after Dr. Martin Luther King’s death in 1968, he said.

    Original Black Panther Saturu Ned speaks to students and staff in the Laney Student center about his experiences in the Sacramento chapter.

    “Back then we had a saying. ‘Long live the King, the King is dead’,” Ned said. “It was already a question of what we called defending ourselves with self-defense.”

    Organizing power starts in community colleges and has potential to finish what the Black Panther Party had started 50 years ago, he said. What they called “community cooperation” was at the center of the Black Panther movement, from Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs to sickle cell testing, he said, and the entire community got involved in making a community problem into a community solution.

    “I encourage each and every one of you students, you scholars. Because right now you are the last true link to unraveling all this madness and passing all this information to our communities,” he said.

    Ned also emphasized unity and encouraged people to be aware of the situation around them.

    “No matter what community you come from, it’s all an oppressive situation against each and every one of you,” he said.

    The audience chanted “All power to the people” and “I am Oscar Grant” with Johnson as she took the stage.

    “One of the Ten Points is about education, and we have to ensure that we are educating ourselves, and not with just the education from schools but we need to know our Black history,” she said.

    She said the beginning of the movie “Fruitvale Station” was pretty accurate about her son’s death. Dec. 31 is Johnson’s birthday, and she and her son shared the day. She said she insisted her son take BART to San Francisco for New Year’s Eve celebrations instead of driving.

    “Never in a million years would I think that I would receive a phone call that my son had been shot by someone who is hired to protect and serve us,” Johnson said.

    When she was invited to the Black Panther Brunch at Laney, she said she started to think about the Black Panthers and how they once received a request to go to Richmond because police killed a young man. The police said he was shot three times, but many witnesses had said they saw him shot six times.

    Johnson said her story related back to one of the Black Panthers Ten Points, which says they want an end to police brutality.

    BSU President Kevin “Chief Black” Taylor organized two day events inspired by the Black Panther Party’s breakfast programs on Feb. 12–13. BSU passed out plates of food to attendees while listening to educational speakers.

    “I want you to know that police violence is still alive and well, and the only way we are going to be able to end police brutality is if we come together as a unified unit,” she said.

    Johnson also encouraged students who have children or family members with children to attend school meetings that involve funds delegated to schools.

    From her experience with Mehserle’s trial, she realized how differently Black people are treated in the justice system.

    Mehserle’s trial was moved to Los Angeles to escape the influence of the civic unrest at the time in the Bay Area.

    The presiding judge, Robert Perry, told Johnson he had already made his decision for judgment of the case and if protests continued outside the courthouse then he would make the trial last five years.

    “Our system is broken, and the only way that our system can be fixed is if we band together and begin to work together to change the system because the system was not made for you or myself,” Johnson said.

    She said that even the education system is not fair.

    “Often times we are naive to our history, and we walk around this life thinking everything is okay when in reality it is not okay,” she said. “We have to work together to turn the system upside down.”

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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