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"The Black Child's Pledge"

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (as it was originally called) was founded in Oakland by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. The group's focus on "armed defense" often overshadowed their community activities, which included a free-breakfast program for children. This "Black Child's Pledge," composed by Shirley Williams and published in The Black Panther newsletter in 1968, highlights the Panthers' militancy and black-nationalist outlook, but also emphasizes the importance of education, physical fitness, abstinence from drugs, and the values of cooperation and community solidarity for black children.

I pledge allegiance to my Black people.

I pledge to develop my mind and body to the greatest extent possible.

I will learn all that I can in order to give my best to my people in their struggle for liberation.

I will keep myself physically fit, building a strong body free from drugs and other substances that weaken me and make me less capable of protecting myself, my family, and my Black brothers and sisters.

I will unselfishly share my knowledge and understanding with them in order to bring about change more quickly.

I will discipline myself to direct my energies thoughtfully and constructively rather than wasting them in idle hatred.

I will train myself never to hurt or allow others to harm my Black brothers and sisters for I recognize that we need every Black man, woman, and child to be physically, mentally and psychologically strong. These principles I pledge to practice daily and to teach them to others in order to unite my people.

Source | Shirley Williams, "Black Child's Pledge," The Black Panther, 26 October 1968; Deborah Menkat, Alana D. Murray, Jenice L. View, eds., Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching (Teaching for Change & PRRAC, 2004).
Creator | Shirley Williams
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Shirley Williams, “"The Black Child's Pledge",” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 30, 2016, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1254.

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