To My Students: The Black Panther pictured in the top left corner is a metaphor for me protecting your educational rights. My need to provide you with the best education possible has compelled me to overcome my crippling fear of writing and write this memoir. The proceeds from this book will be used to purchase equipment and supplies for you. This book is my commitment to your education.
In 1971, the Black Panther Party opened its first school. The bold circle is around me and the lighter circles are around my sisters and brother. Beginning with me and going clockwise are my sisters Deborah, Donna, and Louise, my brother Louis, and my sister Mary Lawana, facing away from the camera. (My oldest sister is Clara Jean. We have the same mother but we have different fathers. She was raised by my mother's parents and was not in the Black Panther Party.)
This memoir is my description of the psychological abuse I suffered in middle and high school, and university classrooms. In response to this abuse at the age of 13, I unconsciously sabotaged my education and almost became a middle school dropout. However, I persevered in my educational goals because of the strong mental and physical training I received in the Oakland Community School (OCS) or Black Panther School. I will describe what occurs in urban classrooms and professor’s offices when the doors were shut and I was alone with emotionally crippled educators who blamed me for their unacknowledged unwillingness to teach, low self-esteem, and internalized prejudices. My story is told through the eyes of a Black Panther Cub and community college instructor with four years experience working in Developmental Education.
This book is dedicated to all students wounded by and struggling to learn in our dysfunctional K-12, community college, and university educational systems.