When White Cops Arrested The Black Panthers For Reading Poetry In 1966

In Bobby Seale’s 1968 book Seize The Time he recounts how he and fellow Black Panther Huey P Newton were detained in 1966 while attending Merritt College because Bobby Seale had recited poems. This was before the Black Panther Party was formed.

One night, Huey, I, and Weasel, one of the college brothers, were all sitting in the car. We opted to get some records by the downhome brothers T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Howlin’ Wolf. I proposed that we go up to the Cal campus because they have more T-Bone Walker, Howlin’ Wolf, and all the brothers LPs up there than they do in the typical black record shop.

We were strolling down Telegraph Avenue toward the Forum when the brothers requested me to read one of their poems, which I had always enjoyed. “Burn, Baby, Burn,” was the name of one of them. “Uncle Sammy Call Me Fulla Lucifer” was the other. I was strolling down the street reciting “Burn, Baby, Burn” until we reached the next block, when Huey and Weasel requested me to recite “Uncle Sammy Call Me Fulla Lucifer,” another poem.

As a result, I began reciting the poem. When we arrived in front of the Forum, I said a few things, and one of the brothers, Weasel, crossed the street and took a seat. (It’s a sort of sidewalk eatery.) “Here, Bobby, take a stand on this,” he added. So we parked the chair near the curb, and I climbed into it and yelled, “Uncle Sammy!” “I’m Fulla Lucifer,” he says. I went on to recite the rest of the poem after that. “Do it again,” someone said. “Man, run it down again.” “You teach my nave heart to sing red-white-and-blue-stars-and-stripes-songs,” the poem said. A uniformed pig cop approached. He was about ten or twelve feet away from me. “You teach my naive heart to sing red-white-and-blue-stars-and-stripes-songs and vow eternal allegiance to all things blue, true, blue-eyed blond, blond-haired, white chalk-white skin with the U.S.A. tattooed all over,” I read.

When I said that, this cop comes up to me and says, “You’re arrested.” “What are you talking about, ‘You’re under arrest?'” I got out of my chair and asked. What am I being detained for? “What gives you the right to say I’m being detained?” “You’re blocking the sidewalk,” he says. “What do you mean I’m obstructing the sidewalk?” I ask. “I’m over here,” says Bobby. Huey, who was standing to my left, caught my attention. The next thing I knew, people were grasping at me. “You’re being detained, you’re being detained.” Man, I started taking them away. Huey was wrestling up there the next thing I knew, and three paddies had me down, bound to the ground. Huey struck one of the paddies who had me a couple of times in the head, and a couple of other brothers stomped on the paddies. I became untethered. There was a tremendous brawl going on. Huey, on the other hand, is said to have whipped up some motherf*ckers up there. Huey is said to have been hurling hands.

Seale and Newton were both detained and charged with assaulting cops. Seale’s wife, Artie Seale, bailed them out of jail, and the court sentenced them to one-year probation each following their no-contest pleas in mid-October 1966.

Marvin X (Marvin Jackmon, also known as Nazzam Al Fitnah), a Merritt College student, wrote the poem Burn Baby Burn.

Here is Ronald Stone’s anti-draft poem Uncle Sammy Call Me Fulla Lucifer

Uncle Sammy don’t shuck and jive me,
I’m hip the popcorn jazz changes you blow,
You know damn well what I mean,
You school my naive heart to sing
red-white-and-blue-stars-and-stripes songs and to pledge eternal allegiance to all things blue, true, blue-eyed blond, blond-haired, white chalk white skin with U.S.A. tattooed all over,
When my soul trusted Uncle Sammy,
Loved Uncle Sammy,
I died in dreams for you Uncle Sammy,
Died in dreams playing war for you Uncle Sammy,
No, I don’t want to hear that crap,
You jam your emasculate manhood symbol, puff with Gonorrhea,
Gonorrhea of corrupt un-realty myths into my ungreased, nigger ghetto, black-ass, my Jewish-Cappy-Hindu-Islamic-Sioux-sure, free public health penicillin cured me,
But Uncle Sammy if you want to stay a freak-show strongman god,
Fuck your motherfucking self,
I will not serve.

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