Interview with Elaine Brown

Last night you were talking about the Last Temptation of Christ, and that moment when Christ was about to die. And you talked about it in terms of your realization as a Panther that you might die at any time. Can you remember that moment when you realized that your life was in jeopardy and how that transformed you? When you realized that you might die?


Well, I don't want to backtrack too much, but I'll just say that, um, I was a matter of, ah, probably 40 or 50 seconds away from being shot when John and Bunchy were killed at UCLA in 1969. Um, although that wasn't very impactfull[SIC], I mean I didn't, I mean, it just happened, and I didn't feel it. I mean, there were gunshots and I sort of remember all of that, but it's, it's, you know, it's a mist. But that afternoon, after they were killed, we went back to, ah, the house where Erika Huggins was to tell her, and to sort of regroup and figure out what we were going to do. I mean, two people have been killed. Um, and as we began to sort of organize ourselves, we had to, we felt we had to leave that particular house. Ah, we looked out the window and there were like 150 cops coming in, ah, from, trying to come into the house, coming in from the rooftops, and, ah, ah, and there were only four women in the house at the time, Erika and Joan and, and another sister named Janice, ah, and myself, and Erika's baby, Erika and John's baby, three weeks old. And there were two men outside and we were forced down, we just said, well, they're coming in the doors, they're going to kill us, they said, oh, we'll kill, the police said, if you don't, ah, if you don't come out of the house, we're going to blow their heads off, and they had shotguns in Geronimo's ear and Nathaniel Clark's ear, Geronimo Pratt, Nathaniel Clark, and so we just hit the floor. We said, this is it, we're going to die today. And the first thing you realize, is that you think, well, I hope I can handle this, I hope I can handle the pain, I hope I can handle whatever's going to happen to me. Because it's really a strange thing, because I would never have thought I would be that brave or that, that calm. I would've thought I was, would have cried or something. And they kicked in the door, and they put the shotguns in our heads and stuff. And, of course, obviously I wasn't killed because here I am. But it was then, that and John Huggins whom, who was very close, whom I was very close to, sort of said there's nothing else I can do. I've just got to, um, I've got to do this because it is, it is, um, it is my life. That's it. So you just do it. And you just say, that's the moment. January 17th, 1969, for me, was that nodal point, if there's any identifiable nodal point where I said, OK, I'm going to probably die in this stuff, but it's worth it.