Blacks and other minorities must employ economically pragmatic solutions to eliminate poverty and unemployment in America, Bobby Seale, co-founder and former chairman of the Black Panther Party, told a group of about 200 students at Wellesley College last night.
Seale, who recently founded a Congressional lobbying group to represent poor people, said Congress must create "community-controlled economic programs that will root the poor and low-incomed into the economic structure of this country."
Seale also spoke about his role in the civil rights movement of the '60s.
He said that although the press portrayed the Black Panthers as violent, they never advocated "spontaneous violence" and were mainly concerned with the economic and social problems of the poor.
The party's campaign against police brutality in Oakland, Cal., resulted in a 95-per-cent reduction of police brutality in that city, Seale said. He added that the group's free-breakfast program also fed poor children before they went to school.
Institutional racism cannot be eliminated by blowing up buildings, Seale said, adding that he believes, "The first thing we can work for is first-class humanism."
Pragmatically, however, the humanistic approach to social issues does not mean that individuals should "drop out" of the system, Seale said.
He added that even during the '60s, when many so-called radicals believed the "system" was wrong and had to be eliminated, it was impossible to drop out of society.
Seale said his mayoral bid in Oakland was one example of working pragmatically within the system. He added that by distributing free food at political rallies, he attracted poor constituents, and by maintaining a conservative profile, he convinced people that he was a serious candidate.
Seale's speech marked the end of a week-long series of cultural activities sponsored by Wellesley's Black Studies Department and several student organizations