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Bobby Seale Huey Newton

December 8, 2011 by staff 

Bobby Seale Huey Newton, Huey Percy Newton (February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989) was an American political and urban activist who, along with Bobby Seale, co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana, the youngest of seven children to Armelia Johnson and Walter Newton, a sharecropper and Baptist lay preacher. His parents named him after former Governor of Louisiana Huey Long. In 1945, the family settled in Oakland, California. The Newton family was quite poor and often relocated throughout the San Francisco Bay Area during Newton’s childhood. Despite this, he contended that his family was close-knit and that he never went without food and shelter as a child. Growing up in Oakland, Newton stated that “[he] was made to feel ashamed of being black.” In his autobiography Revolutionary Suicide, he wrote, “During those long years in Oakland public schools, I did not have one teacher who taught me anything relevant to my own life or experience. Not one instructor ever awoke in me a desire to learn more or to question or to explore the worlds of literature, science, and history. All they did was try to rob me of the sense of my own uniqueness and worth, and in the process nearly killed my urge to inquire.”

Although he graduated at Oakland Technical High School in 1960, Newton was illiterate. However, he went on to teach himself to read. He struggled to read The Republic by Plato at first, finally reading it five times to better understand it, and it was this success that inspired him to become a political leader.

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