This essay is reproduced here as it appeared in the print edition of the original Science for the People magazine. These web-formatted archives are preserved complete with typographical errors and available for reference and educational and activist use. Scanned PDFs of the back issues can be browsed by headline at the website for the 2014 SftP conference held at UMass-Amherst. For more information or to support the project, email email@example.com
Panthers Suggest a “Free Science Program” to SESPA — Science for the People
by Herb Fox
Two communications from Black Panthers who are presently political prisoners (Panther 21) were received in August. Ali Bey Hassan writes, ” … welcome to the just struggle for liberation of all the people … we as a people who are struggling for survival, know that ‘true freedom’ cannot be given to; anyone. We recognize (that), in order to determine our own destiny, we will have to wage a ‘class struggle’ … (in which) different classes of people … (must) use their many different skills and talents …, instead of just seeking more money, titles and fame for… (their) own selfish good. …(Such behavior just) gives our oppressors more money and more power to further exploit and oppress minority people in this country and other countries.
“At this time, it would be best for the scientists who are making their committment to the people’s struggle to work out a ‘free science’ program that will enable black people to further their knowledge of science so that this knowledge can be brought back into the black communities, so that with this scientific knowledge, we can better our chance of survival as a people.
“To set up the ‘free science’ program contact Panther 21 through Dr. Curtis Powell and we will deal with it in a collective manner to give you assistance in setting up the program.”
Another more lengthy memorandum from Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa (also of the Panther 21) was received at the same time.
In a brief response we listed some of our activities that are already in the spirit of the suggestion and promised to circulate the suggestions for discussion among the membership.
Those who wish to contribute to this discussion and who are not familiar with the Black Panther Party and its program should find a pamphlet “The Black Panther Party, Myth and Reality” very useful. The pamphlet was written last May by a group of employees, students and faculty who were on strike in the Harvard Medical Area. Copies can be obtained from Boston SESPA.