Monday, February 24, 2014
MVCC Utica Campus
ACC Commons (Cafeteria)
Former Black Panther Aaron Dixon is slated to speak in Utica on February 24 as part of a statewide speaking tour that has six other stops. The MVCC prisoner justice organization Incarcerated Flavors decided to bring Dixon to Utica as part of Black History Month and to encourage people to become actively engaged in social justice and social change. In addition to speaking at MVCC, Dixon will also speak at Proctor High School earlier in the day, an event set up by the MVCC Science & Technology Entry Program (STEP). Dixon will speak about his life as an activist and his recently published memoir My People Are Rising. Books will be available for purchase and autographs.
IN AN ERA of stark racial injustice, Aaron Dixon dedicated his life to the revolution, founding the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 at age nineteen. In his new memoir, he traces the course of his own radicalization and that of a generation. Through his eyes, we witness the courage and commitment of the young men and women who rose up in rebellion, risking their lives in the name of freedom. My People Are Rising is an unforgettable tale of their triumphs and tragedies, and the enduring legacy of Black Power.
Although the Panthers are seen as a controversial organization to some, the group was crucial in the struggle to expand the rights of not only Black people but poor people of all races. Across the nation, the Panthers established free medical clinics and dental clinics, free schools and childcare, and countless other free services to the disenfranchised. One of their most well known programs was the Free Breakfast for Children program which fed over 10,000 hungry children every day. The Panthers were also a leading antiwar and economic justice organization.
As an adolescent, Dixon marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to end housing discrimination in Seattle, and was one of the first volunteers to participate in the busing program to integrate schools. While a member of the Black Panthers, Dixon started the Free Breakfast for Children program that fed thousands of hungry Black children; and he helped to open a free community medical and legal clinic. The clinic continues to this day as the Carolyn Downs Clinic, now part of Country Doctor Community Health Center.
AARON DIXON is one of the co-founders of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. He has since founded Central House, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing for youth, and was one of the cofounders of the Cannon House, a senior assisted-living facility. Aaron ran for US Senate on the Green Party ticket in 2006.
“Dixon’s lyrical prose provides a candid appraisal of the Black Panther Party that highlights the neglected contributions of Northwest activists. This is a striking blend of social history, memoir, and political analysis. Required reading for all those interested in Black liberation struggles and radical history of the twentieth century.” –Laura Chrisman, editor in chief, The Black Scholar, and the Nancy K. Ketcham Endowed Chair of English, University of Washington
“Dixon has that uncanny ability to convey to his readers the feelings that came along with the party’s triumphs and defeats. Most readers will be amazed to discover what it took to create and then sustain the Black Panther Party’s many community service programs. They will be equally shocked at how close party members were to the ever-present threat of death. Unlike previous autobiographies of BPP leaders, this one does not sugarcoat the organization’s shortcomings, nor does it glamorize its hard fought and often well-deserved victories. It does, however, provide a valuable, though painful, reminder of the high price of real change in these United States.” –Curtis Austin, associate professor of history, The Ohio State University
“My People Are Rising is the most authentic book ever written by a member of the Black Panther Party. Aaron Dixon does a superb job of presenting life in the party from the perspective of a foot soldier–a warrior for the cause of revolutionary change and Black Power in America. He pulls no punches and holds nothing back in writing honestly about those times as he successfully presents a visual picture of the courage, commitment, and sometimes shocking brutality of life as a Panther activist. This is an unforgettable, must-read book!” –Larry Gossett, chair, Metropolitan King County Council
“There have been many books about the Black Panther party but never has there been a Panther book as illuminating as this memoir by Aaron Dixon. It’s the story from a different perspective than we’ve ever seen: the former member who has remained a long-distance runner for revolution. It’s indispensable for anyone with an interest in black politics or the politics of change in the United States.” –Dave Zirin, the Nation