Update: Instead of responding to requests for comment from both Heat Street and Campus Reform, Yale University reached out to Heat Street to say that the Yale Daily News has corrected its story – it appears, at the request of school administration unhappy that the event had been characterized as a “Black Panther Party.”
The “Black Panther Party,” the statement says, is merely a gathering, though still, it seems, a presentation of the controversial activist group’s contribution to black history and its longterm impact on social justice activism.
A statement from the school reads:
Yale University students will celebrate Black History Month by cheering the founding of the violent Black Panther Party — with their own “Black Panther Party.”
The shindig, to be held on campus the school’s African-American House (known as Af-Am House), and sponsored by the African American Cultural Center is designed to celebrate the Black Panther organization’s 50th anniversary, and to help students at the school come face-to-face with the history of black activism.
Details of the party have not been released and Yale did not respond for requests for comment.
The Black Panther Party itself has long engendered controversy due to its links to violence, racist ideology and terroristic acts. Formed in the 1960s in Oakland, CA to help improve standards of living in the black community, the group quickly became involved in violent conflict with Oakland police. The FBI has long considered the Black Panthers — then and now — as an “extremist” organization, characterized by their embrace of guerrilla and military-style tactics in pursuit of their agenda.
According to its own membership, the group engaged in everything from food banks and free grocery programs to the violent engagement of law enforcement.
Prestigious Yale University itself has a long history of support for the Black Panthers, even when they’ve been involved in kidnapping, torture and murder. In 1970, the sensational “Black Panther Trials” took place in New Haven, CT, where Yale is located. Nine Black Panthers were tried on various charges related to the murder of a teenage boy believed to have been an FBI informant. During the sensational trials, Black Panther members and supporters were hosted in Yale dorms and given free meals in Yale’s dining halls. Future first lady Hillary Rodham was also on hand to “monitor” the trials for civil right violations.
More recently, Yale students were given the opportunity – by the AACC – to travel to a 50th anniversary Black Panther conference, where they “learn[ed] about the history and legacy of the Black Panther Party.” The students will share that knowledge at a session also scheduled during February.
“Most critically conscious black people in America would say black history in America has always been a perpetual struggle,” the Assistant Director of Yale’s Afro-American Cultural Center Shane Lloyd told the Yale Daily News “Although the conditions might change, the struggle is always a persistent aspect of Black life, along with resilience and creative resistance.”