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Former Black Panther member Gerald Smith speaks on class struggle, Black liberation at Boise State

Photo by Corissa Campbell

Former Black Panther Party member Gerald Smith from Oakland, California, spoke about class struggle and Black liberation at a forum last Thursday, April 14, hosted by Boise State.

Smith has been an active member of the Black liberation movement for decades, working with groups like the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality and the Black Panther Party.

Currently, Smith is a member of the Oscar Grant Committee and the Democratic Socialists of America. He has also recently joined the Red Republicans. 

The Black Panther Party was founded in October 1966, in Oakland, California, by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. “It was a revolutionary organization with an ideology of Black nationalism, socialism and armed self-defense, particularly against police brutality.”

The party, active until 1982, advocated for challenging open-carry citizen patrols, the fight against classism and community social programs. 

During the forum, Smith discussed the ruling class vs. the social class and how Americans have been pitted against each other by the government over time. 

“What we have is a situation and what I’m going to be appealing for is unity of all who are present,” Smith said. “We have to find a way to work together to support each other and to respect each other.” 

Smith spoke about other relevant issues such as the housing crisis, the relocation of out-of-state citizens into Idaho, local school systems and their neighboring communities and different ways that the Boise community can work together to ensure that the people remain for each other rather than against each other. 

“Do not quit when your organizational leadership does something that you think is wrong,” Smith said. “That is a challenge to struggle! You do not quit!”

Other points in Smith’s speech included organizational leadership and how Boise as a community should use poor leadership as an opportunity to build back a better community versus quitting when the going gets tough.

“We can still fight for the truth,” Smith said. “And I am hoping that, among you, will be the elements that will take the truth and take this forward. Let this be the beginning of a new start for the working class in America!”

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