The last time I spoke to my padrino was on the phone in the Summer of ’08. I remember him saying, “Just be careful,” regarding an article I had written on Charles Hamilton.
I asked, why? He repeated it: “Just be careful what you put out there about people.” I think he was referring to the heroin use I mention in the piece. I didn’t understand his point at the time, but as I thought about it I got it. A former Black Panther, he was about the people. And I was giving the establishment some good stuff on Charles. Although I don’t think that had anything to do with his fall off the map, or him getting socked.
Bob inspired me and dozens of other young men towards greatness. I’ll never forget that. From the time I was a little boy, until I reached adulthood he was there. A college professor and public servant, he leaves behind a large, beautiful family, with tons of friends and admirers. As one of the founders of the NY chapter of the BPP, he also leaves his mark on history.
You can read more about him in this quasi-controversial write-up in the Poughkeepsie Journal. You can also learn more about the Panther 21 trial, of which he was a part of, in Murray Kempton’s “The Briar Patch.” There’s an archived 1996 radio show that brought Bob on to talk about his past, here, with an appearance by Boots Riley from The Coup.
Now who’s going to give me bendición, eh?
Rest in Freedom, padrino.
Photo from Poughkeepsie Journal
update: Just googled the man a few more times and came up with this New York magazine article from 1972 that mentions Bob and offers some behind-the-scenes of the shenanigans that went on at his trial. Also, came across It’s About Time, a site that offers current info on Black Panther Party alum, reunions and personal histories of the group.
It hipped me to a documentary on Oakland Black Panther Party co-founder Richard Aoki, who passed away last year. He was a Japanese American revolutionary credited with bringing the first straps into the party.