BLACK PANTHERS 47TH ANNIVERSARY By Herman Bell

October 13, 2013

My dear brothers and sisters,

Comradely greetings. I commend you for making the Party's Community Survival Programs: Myth and Realities, the theme of this 47th Anniversary Celebration. For I firmly believe that programs are among the finest ways to educate and organize a people and their resources.

The Party's survival programs - its school, newspaper, breakfast, and community self-defense programs, for example - were the bedrock on which it stood; and the people gravitated towards them because they could see, feel, understand, and support what the Party was doing and where it endeavored to lead them. Party members, as well as the black community, took great pride in that service and pride in the Party itself.

Although we were young and inexperienced in many ways (some of us knew not whether we were Negro, colored, or black), given our historical baggage, we displayed remarkable political acumen, organizational skills, professionalism, and courage. The authorities hated us because they knew that the old days and old ways could be no more, and because we no longer feared them or were cowered by what they could do to us.

So my dear brothers and sisters, if we accept that ours is a protracted struggle, let us not lose sight of that, then and now. Let us ask ourselves: are our demands and goals the same as they were back then? Several generations have been born since the Party's demise. Time brings change. Do we expect our youth to continue to struggle as we did, or are they inclined to "go along to get along," totally disregarding our historic freedom struggle, the death, suffering, and sacrifice of those who came before them?

Accordingly, I say and ask this at this celebratory event in hope that it's part of what you discuss in going forward. Surely we cannot function as we once did, but we can still do something more. I also hope that you resolve to mount a successful strategy to free our political prisoners. It's imperative that you fight to free them, and in honoring that imperative it says so much about who we are as a people. It would so shame and disparage our legacy and all those who've faithfully served our people to think or have it said that our people have lost their way and will to fight. Thus, in going forward, our firm duty, so it ever seems to me, is to protect and guide our youth and to love and cherish one another, not by words, but by deeds.

Solidarity Forever -

Herman Bell / 2013

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