Interview with Bobby Rush
QUESTION 24
TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

I would like you to tell me the story about how the chapter here got recognized by Oakland.

BOBBY RUSH:

Well, basically what happened was that when I went up to Oakland and talked with Bo--the leaders there, Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, well, not Huey, he was in jail, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, uh, David Hilliard. They said they already had a chapter established. But I know that they didn't have a chapter established. I know that some guys was out faking as famil--as Panthers but they, they weren't really Panthers. Ah, so we began to proceed to organize anyway, okay? We opened up a office, got a telephone and that type thing. And w--finally began to, to do some organizing. A couple of weeks later, after we opened our office up, we got this frantic phone call from Oakland, California. Ah, we were the only number that they had of the, for anyone in Chicago. Even though they had said that they had a chapter here, they didn't have a telephone number for those guys. And they didn't have an office. They called us and told us that two of their Central Committee members of the national organization had been arrested for attempting to hi--attempting hijacking. What had happened was that they were on a, on a plane on their way from New York to California, engaged in some innocent conversation. And they asked the stewardess, I guess they were discussing the distance between Cuba and New York and Cuba and, and wherever, you know. And it, they were ask, they asked actually in fact asked the stewardess well, is, "Would it take the plane just as long to get from New York to Cuba as it would take the plane to get from New York to, to California?" And the stew--the stewardess went hysterical because this was the era where they were doing a lot of hijacking at. And she ran to the, to the, to the captain and they evidently called somewhere and they were told to land the plane in, in Chicago. And they actually landed in Chicago, snatched these guys off the plane, put 'em in jail. These guys made their only phone call to Oakland, California and Oakland didn't have anybody else in Chicago. They called us, told us, "Okay, uh, you know, take care of these guys." And we became officially recognized as the official chapter of the Black Panther party in Chicago based on, on, on, on these guys' innocent conversation and their discussion about distance. Okay?