Did you know that Merritt College was is the birthplace of the Black Panther Party? Although, most of our colleagues, students, and community are aware of the Black Panthers. Some are unaware of their contributions to Oakland and the United States.
The Black Panther Party was founded by two Merritt College students, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. In 1961, Newton and Seale met at Merritt College (on Grove Street, in Oakland). In 1971, Merritt College moved from Grove Street (now 5714 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, in Oakland) to Campus Drive, in the hills of East Oakland.
Most of the pictures seen on social media pictures them dressed in black berets, wearing, black leather jackets, touting guns, and speaking up against police brutality against the African American community. However, their activism to promote social change and helping their local community by developing “survival programs” made a huge impact to families throughout the United States. These programs included free breakfast programs (for 20,000 children each day), free food program for families and the elderly, assistance with legal aid, clothing distribution, local transportation, and health clinics for ALL underrepresented communities.
In honor of the Black Panther Party and their many contributions, the student lobby was named the Huey P. Newton Student Lobby. After the Student Center (also known as the R Building) was remodeled, the lobby became the Huey P. Newton Student Lounge.
To view highlights about the history of the Black Panther Party please visit: