Interview with Elaine Brown

How did you see the Panther party transform--you were talking about guys in the Slausons in L.A., and also folks in Oakland, around the country. How did you see it transforming young Black men and women?


Well, you know, the Panther party first of all was dominated by men. So it, it, no point in talking too much about the women, because there weren't a lot of women in the party, the party. There were a lot of women, but there weren't a lot of women. I mean, we were, the party was dominated by men. And it was a male-dominated organization in terms of attitude and everything, and the paramilitary, ah, you know, atmosphere and so forth. But I think that, the simple fact is the Black Panther gave all those gang people, the Slausons in L.A., the Peace Stone Nation in, in um, in Chicago, it focused their attention away from what they were doing, and onto this more serious issue. In other words, the reason gangs form is not just so that people can have camaraderie, as many sociologists would like to suggest. You know, there's this sort of, everybody's happy just being a part of something. Well we could be part of something other than a street gang, and go around robbing and maiming and mugging people and stuff and so forth. But there was that sense, and I know from Philadelphia, from, from the Avenue Gang and Norris Street, and all the gangs in my neighborhood, that it was, it wasn't just a matter of belonging, it was standing for something, it was having territory, it was having a sense of your own dignity in a, in a world that denied your existence. What the Black Panther party said is you can do the same thing--