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Then and now: Black Panther Party Central Headquarters

By
Sarah Medina
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For Then and Now, we hunt through the archives of amazing vintage photographs of San Francisco and the Bay Area to find historic images—and then do our best to go out and recreate those same photographs today. We're curious about how far we've come and what's stayed the same in this constantly-changing city we love.

Photograph: Courtesy Oakland Museum of California

Black Panther Headquarters, West Oakland, 1971

By the time the Black Panthers dissolved in 1982, the party had reached a nationwide legendary status. In the 16 years the Panthers were in power—they were founded in 1966—they started breakfast and lunch programs at local schools, supported Oakland’s elderly population with free transportation and other services and opened free health clinics across the East Bay. Their central headquarters in West Oakland saw famous members like Huey Newton and Bobby Seale host rallies, speeches and parties that would shape the East Bay as we know it.

Photograph: Clara Rice

Black Panther Headquarters, West Oakland, 2017

It’s hard to separate the history of the Panthers from the history of Oakland. While they may not congregate in the same Victorians, former party members are still a large part of the community as artists, teachers and advocates, and the party’s infamous manifesto, the Ten-Point Program—handwritten on yellow-lined paper decades ago—continues to inform and inspire contemporary movements today. On 14th and Peralta Streets, artists Refa Senay and Batsh Lo are painting a new mural that honors the revolutionary civil rights group and serves as a constant reminder of the neighborhood’s storied past. 

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