Black Panthers

Submitted by aec059 on Wed, 12/07/2022 - 10:17

On 17 November 1969, three members of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers addressed four separate campus audiences. Their stop in Saskatoon was part of a tour of western Canadian Universities that was cut short a few days later with the deportation of two of the three. A week later the most dynamic of the speakers, Fred Hampton, was dead - shot to death in his bed by the Chicago police.

Formed in 1966 by Chairman Bobby Seals, the Marxist-Leninist Black Panthers advocated the use of violence to obtain political goals. Rapid growth, accelerating violence, and calls for the overthrow of the government, by 1969 had brought the Panthers into a protracted and violent struggle with the American authorities.

The U of S, like other Canadian and American universities, had become increasingly radicalized during the late sixties. The visit by the Panthers was but one in a parade of militant protest groups that addressed campus audiences.

The three Panthers outlined the party's ten point program and emphasized their peace-loving nature, assuring those present that they were not fighting the whites, but people, white and black, who were reactionary. When questioned about the party's policy on violence, Fred Hampton, Deputy Minister of Information, said "if a man kicks our door down then we'll blow his brains out. If he doesn't want his brains blown out then he'll knock on the door."

Accusations leveled by Saskatchewan Attorney-General Darrell Heald that the Panthers were stirring up sedition among Canadian Indians precipitated an investigation by immigration authorities. It was found that two of the three were traveling under false papers. The third, Fred Hampton, left Canada voluntarily.

Hampton's death a week later would not have surprised the twenty-one year old who had stated flatly while in Saskatoon, "Panthers never live to retirement age"

Patrick Hayes (1995)