Students at Oakland MuseumOn February 3, 2017 the Skyline College African-American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) Program led 27 students to the Oakland Museum of California to experience the ‘All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50’ Exhibit. This excursion kicked off one of the many celebratory Black History moments that Skyline College students will be able to participate in all month long, while being actively engaged in learning more about protest politics, social movements, community activism, and social justice, and the contributions black people have made to this country, and will continue to make to this country.

The visit to the Oakland Museum provided Skyline College students an opportunity to be exposed to the rich history that exist in their Bay Area backyard, and to learn more about the true nature of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and their quest to improve the lives of impoverished people and eliminate the violence and police brutality that many experienced in their daily lives. To the surprise of our ASTEP students, our ASTEP scholarship donors come out in solidarity to support Skyline College’s visit to the museum.

During a self-guided exhibit exploration, students were met with a historic gallery of amazing examples of what the commemoration of the Black Panther Party was genuinely about. This time capsule of history demonstrated for the students, that any social movement that happens in our country begins with youth and focused education. Students learned that the average age for a Black Panther member was 19, and that in order to be a participating associate, one had to study, read, and actively work in the community to aid in resisting systemic racism encountered by Black Americans in this country. Highlights from the exhibit included the various programs that the Black Panthers created such as: the Free Health Clinics, the Free Breakfast For Children Programs, and Oakland Community Schools.

By partaking in the exhibit, students were quickly able to draw connections between what they have been learning from their readings in their English and Literature courses, alike. The visual witnessing of a community of people from the past, through photos, videos, literature, newspaper, artwork, and grassroots organizing, helped to put into perspective; those individuals from the 1960s who put their lives and careers on the line to forge social and political change, and to assist in making the world a better place for exiting communities, then and now. “All Power to the People!”

Article and Photo by Nathan Jones