Bobby Seale
Robert George "Bobby" Seale (born October 22, 1936), is an activist. He is known for co-founding the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

 with Huey Newton.

Early life

Seale was one of the three children born to his mother, a homemaker, and his father, a carpenter, in Dallas, Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. After moving around in Texas, his family relocated to Oakland
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Seale attended Berkeley High School, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955. He spent three years in the Air Force before being dishonorably discharged for insubordination and being AWOL while stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base
Ellsworth Air Force Base
Ellsworth Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately northeast of Rapid City, South Dakota just north of Box Elder, South Dakota....

 in South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

. Upon his arrival back in Oakland, Seale began working at different aerospace plants as a sheet metal mechanic, and attending night school to earn his high school diploma.

In 1962, at the age of 25, Seale began attending Merritt College
Merritt College
Merritt College is a two-year community college located in the Oakland Hills in Alameda County, California. The school's enrollment is approximately 6,000 students. The college is named after physician Dr...

, a community college located on what was then Grove Street, now Martin Luther King Jr Way, near the Berkeley city limits. There he would join the Afro-American Association, (AAA) and meet Huey Newton, with whom he later co-founded the Black Panther Party. Seale and co-founder Newton became increasingly skeptical about the direction of the AAA, particularly the AAA's tendency to analyze rather than act on the problems facing black Americans.

Black Panther

Seale and Newton, heavily inspired by Malcolm X
Malcolm X
Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...

, a civil rights leader assassinated in 1965, and his teachings, joined together in October 1966 to create the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and adopt the slain activist's slogan “Freedom by any means necessary” as their own. Seale became the chairman of the Black Panther Party and underwent FBI surveillance as part of its COINTELPRO
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological...


Bobby Seale was one of the original "Chicago Eight" defendants charged with conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 and inciting to riot, in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention
1968 Democratic National Convention
The 1968 Democratic National Convention of the U.S. Democratic Party was held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois, from August 26 to August 29, 1968. Because Democratic President Lyndon Johnson had announced he would not seek a second term, the purpose of the convention was to...

, in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. The evidence against Seale was slim as Seale was a last minute replacement for Eldridge Cleaver
Eldridge Cleaver
Leroy Eldridge Cleaver better known as Eldridge Cleaver, was a leading member of the Black Panther Party and a writer...

 and had been in Chicago for only two days of the convention. Judge Julius Hoffman
Julius Hoffman
Julius J. Hoffman was a Chicago, Illinois, attorney and judge and former law partner of Richard J. Daley who achieved notoriety for his role in the Chicago Seven trial.-Early life:...

 sentenced him to four years of imprisonment for contempt
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

 because of his outbursts, and eventually ordered Seale severed from the case, hence the "Chicago Seven
Chicago Seven
The Chicago Seven were seven defendants—Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner—charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois on the occasion of the 1968...

". During the trial, one of Seale's many outbursts led the judge to have him bound and gagged, as commemorated in the song "Chicago" written by Graham Nash
Graham Nash
Graham William Nash, OBE is an English singer-songwriter known for his light tenor vocals and for his songwriting contributions with the British pop group The Hollies, and with the folk-rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nash is a photography collector and a published photographer...

 and mentioned in the poem and song "H2Ogate Blues" by Gil Scott-Heron
Gil Scott-Heron
Gilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron was an American soul and jazz poet, musician, and author known primarily for his work as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and '80s...


The trial of the Chicago Eight was depicted in the 1987 HBO television movie Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8, whose script relied heavily upon transcripts from the court proceedings. Seale was portrayed by actor Carl Lumbly.

While serving his four year sentence, Seale was put on trial again in 1970 in the New Haven Black Panther trials
New Haven Black Panther trials
In 1970 there were a series of criminal prosecutions in New Haven, Connecticut against various members of the Black Panther Party. The charges ranged from criminal conspiracy to felony murder. All indictments stemmed from the murder of nineteen-year-old Alex Rackley in the early hours of May 21,...

. Several officers of the Panther organization had murdered a fellow Panther, Alex Rackley
Alex Rackley
Alex Rackley was a member of the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. In May 1969, Rackley was suspected by other Panthers of being a police informant...

, who had confessed under torture to being a police informant. The leader of the murder plan, George Sams, Jr., turned state's evidence and testified that he had been ordered to kill Rackley by Seale himself, who had visited New Haven only hours before the murder. The New Haven trials were accompanied by a large demonstration in New Haven on May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

, 1970, which coincided with the beginning of the American college Student Strike of 1970
Student Strike of 1970
In the aftermath of the American Invasion of Cambodia on April 30, 1970, four students were killed at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 in Ohio, as well as two students at Jackson State College in Mississippi on May 14/15...

. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in Seale's trial, and the charges were eventually dropped. Seale was released from prison in 1972. While in prison Seale’s wife Artie became pregnant allegedly by fellow Panther Fred Bennett. Bennett’s murdered and mutilated remains were found in a suspected Panther hideout in April of 1971. Seale was implicated in the murder with police suspecting he had ordered it in retaliation for the affair. However, no charges were pressed.

After his release from prison, Seale ran for Mayor of Oakland, California
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

 in 1973. He received the second most votes in a field of nine candidates but ultimately lost in a run-off with incumbent mayor John Reading. In 1974 Seale and Huey Newton argued over a proposed movie about the Panthers that Newton wanted Bert Schneider
Bert Schneider
Berton "Bert" Schneider is an American movie producer, who was behind a number of important and topical films of the late-1960s and early-1970s. The son of Abraham Schneider, onetime president of Columbia Pictures, the younger Schneider tended toward the rebellious. He briefly attended Cornell...

 to produce. According to several accounts the argument escalated to a fight where Newton, backed by his armed bodyguards, beat Seale with a bullwhip so badly that Seale required extensive medical treatment for his injuries, went into hiding for nearly a year, and ended his affiliation with the Party. Seale denied any such physical altercation took place dismissing rumors that he and Newton were ever less than friends.

Life after the Party

In more recent years, Seale’s actions differed greatly from the radical ones of his past. In 1987, he wrote a cookbook called Barbeque'n with Bobby with the proceeds going to various non-profit social organizations, and also advertised Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

In the early 1990s, Seale appeared on the TV documentary series Cold War, reminiscing about events in the 1960s. In 2002, Seale began dedicating his time to Reach!, a group focused on youth education programs. An instructional, nonprofit group helping people develop the necessary techniques and tools to set up community organizations within their neighborhoods. He has also taught black studies at Temple University
Temple University
Temple University is a comprehensive public research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Originally founded in 1884 by Dr. Russell Conwell, Temple University is among the nation's largest providers of professional education and prepares the largest body of professional...

 in Philadelphia.

In 2006 Seale appeared in the documentary film The US vs John Lennon to discuss his friendship with John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...


External links

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