Interview with William O'Neal
QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

What did you begin to learn as you, as you did join? And, and, what kind of information were you, were you able to give back to Mitchell?

WILLIAM O'NEAL:

Well, almost immediately after I joined the Panthers, probably within ten days, I began to realize that the Black Panther Party was a little bit more sophisticated than a gang. The orientation process, the attention they gave to, to the political climate around the country, had me going there for awhile. And at one point-

INTERVIEWER:

Could you be specific, please?

WILLIAM O'NEAL:

Well-

INTERVIEWER:

And also, if you could, if you could look at me?

WILLIAM O'NEAL:

Yeah, OK. They had, I think the first set of reference books I saw inside the Black Panther Party was _The Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung_, which I had, began to associate with Communism. And it wasn't too long after that, that I started seeing books like the Manifesto, _The Communist Manifesto_, Karl Marx and then The Selected Works of, Collected Works of Lenin, and every night after the office would close the Panthers would sit down and, and they would study these books. We would go through political orientation. We would read certain paragraphs and then Fred Hampton and Rush would explain to us, the new membership, basically what it meant, and what was happening, and they drew parallels to what was going on in the past revolutions in the various countries, like, for instance China or Russia, and they was drawing parallels to what was going on in the current political scene within the United States. So they were drawing associations between the revolutions in, in, in the Communist countries, as I understood it, as to what was happening in the United States. And, and so I understood them to be a little bit more sophisticated than a gang. I expected that there would be weapons, and we would be out there doing turf battles with the, the local gangs, but they, they weren't about that at all. They were into the political scene: the war in Vietnam, Richard Nixon, and specifically freeing Huey. That was their thing.