SAN DIEGO—When the Us Organization and the San Diego Original Black Panther Party, two of the leading Black Nationalist movements in America, came together on stage at the World Beat Cultural Center in Balboa Park, it was more than symbolic.

It gave way for reconciliation and a forward movement toward empowerment. It is a legacy for future generations, documenting how Black men and youth, with bloodshed between them, can settle their differences and unite for a cause greater than themselves.

“I know God has blessed us to do it, because we’re here, after all these years. We’ve been trying and couldn’t do it, but we got it. We’re going to do it today,” said Henry Wallace V, San Diego Original Black Panther Party Chairman.

“As you know, reconciliation was one of the main principles of the Million Man March, along with atonement and responsibility. And as I wrote in the Million Man March Mission Statement, ‘it is in and through reconciliation that we can embrace, stand together, organize our community and solve the problems in it, harness our energies for maximum development and struggle to end injustice and create a just and good society,’ ” said Dr. Maulana Karenga, Chair of Organization Us and Professor and Chair of the Department of Africana Studies, California State University Long Beach, via Zoom video.

Veteran Black Panthers

Other participants included Seba (teacher of high moral integrity) Chimbuko Tembo, co-associate director of African American Cultural Center (Us) and Seba Tulivu Jadi, co-associate director of African American Cultural Center (Us); Nation of Islam Student Minister Abdul Waliullah Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 8 and coordinator of the reconciliation; Original Black Panther Party of San Diego members Ibrahim, Minister of Education; William X Upton (Historian) and Patrick Germany, Minister of Defense.

“As we said in the agreement, this is ‘an initial but important step toward reconciliation and as a model and encouragement for others. We, also, take this beginning step to help rebuild community unity and to aid in rebuilding the overarching movement to expand the realm of freedom, justice and other shared goods in our community, society and the world,” said Dr. Karenga. “And we do this also in hope that other organizations and groups with similar conflicts might find the strength and will to reconcile their differences as we have,” said Dr. Karenga.

Silence permeated the air as members collectively read the “Reconciliation Agreement Between Organization Us and the Original Black Panther Party of San Diego, California,” and it continued until the fourth and final original copy was signed.

Applause erupted when Seba (moral teacher of ancient Egypt) Tembo and Chairman Wallace stood up and bowed to each other. She extended her right hand. He clasped hers, likewise. Simultaneously, they uttered soft-spoken, congratulatory words as they shook hands with a conviction that penetrated the air.

Food distibution

Some attendees cried. Some held up Black Power fists. A few sat still, speechless throughout the intensely spiritual and cultural Balboa Park venue, founded by “Mama” Makeda ‘Dread’ Cheatom. Organizers thanked her, along with all who made the moment possible and agreed with it. “This is really good, we’re coming together in unity,” said Mama Makeda. “It’s really important that we keep our spiritual values that have been taught to us,” she told The Final Call.

Willie Hutch’s 1973 Motown R&B hit “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” played over loudspeakers. Later, Sam Cook’s 1963 “A Change Is Gonna Come” serenaded attendees during an intermission, while they enjoyed a scrumptious meal prepared by Mama Makeda and her staff.

The signing occurred on October 22, seven days after the 27th Anniversary of the Historic Million Man March on October 16. On that day in 1995, nearly two million Black men answered the call that came through the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

“I wanted to do something to show Black youth were not what Hollywood said we were. God blessed us to show Black America was not what we had been made out to be on the silver screen,” said Minister Farrakhan in The Final Call, 25 years after the Million Man March as he reflected on that day.

“So, on October 16, 1995, the capital of the greatest nation on earth and in the history of the last 6,000 years became the capital of Black America and Black people in the world. It was a day of tranquility, peace and contentment of mind never before seen in America … .”

During his Million Man March address, Minister Farrakhan laid down the eight steps of the atonement process, toward reconciliation back to Allah (God): point out the wrong; acknowledgment of wrong; confess the fault, first to Allah (God), then to those offended; repentance, which is a feeling of remorse; atonement, or to make amends and reparations; forgiveness by the offended party; reconciliation and restoration; and step eight: perfect union with Allah and with each other.

Although the call came through Minister Farrakhan, it could not have occurred, if it were not for the tremendous working in unity, with Dr. Karenga, the Black Panther Party, and many Black organizations, throughout the country, stated Student Minister Abdul Waliullah Muhammad.

“It was the United States government that broke the movement that would lead to our liberation. So we call to all people of goodwill, that where you can see brothers reconciling, then you and I must grow together, come together to celebrate that and to be bearers of witness of this honor that we see,” he said, referring to the COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) war against dissent, conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under Director J. Edgar Hoover, and the havoc it wrecked on the Black liberation movement.

The agreement documented that before the conflict, The Black Panther Party and Organization Us worked together in Los Angeles and San Diego in the interest of the people and the Black liberation movement. The agreement also recognized and condemned the disruptive devices and destructive role of COINTELPRO.

“Determined to join our effort to achieve and promote reconciliation as a principle and practice between our organizations and in our community, we sign this reconciliation agreement as an initial but important step toward reconciliation as a model and as an encouragement for others,” read William X and Seba Tembo.

This history was made during a two-day celebration of the 55th Anniversary of the Original Black Panther Party in San Diego for Community Empowerment, Oct. 21-22. “The people, themselves, are now rising up to address police killings, brutality and misconduct,” said Chairman Wallace, who joined the Panthers when he was 16.

“We don’t need to do the defense part of it now, and being that we are senior citizens, where we can help our people is food because the kids are still suffering from malnutrition here, in San Diego,” he stated.

“Our reconciliation and this agreement are indeed a model and mirror for those looking for a way out of circles of destructive emotions, thought and practice, a mirror for measurement of the awesome costs to those involved, our community and our movement. And it is a model of how to reach out, reconsider and transform our relations and move forward in operational unity in the interests of ourselves, our people, our liberation struggle and future generations,” Dr. Karenga told The Final Call.

In front of the dais were large posters highlighting the lives and legacies of Robert James Hutton (Lil’ Bobby), George Jackson and Jonathan Peter Jackson, Huey P. Newton and Robert George Seale (Bobby Seale), Fred Hampton, Sr. and Mark Clark, just a few of those slain in the struggle for liberation.

Bloodshed between Us and the Panthers erupted when John Jerome Huggins Jr. (23) and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter (26), two members of the University of California Los Angeles’s (UCLA) Black Student Union and Black Panther Party, were fatally shot in Campbell Hall in 1969.

Bill Whitfield, member of the Black Panther chapter in Kansas City, serves free breakfast to children, April 16, 1969 before they go to school. Merchants have supplied food and money for the daily meals. The Panthers are a Militant Black group whose members in some cities have been charged with violent activities. The Kansas City Panthers say they keep guns only for defense. (AP Photo/William Straeter)

It was an “incident-accident” that caused a domestic dispute, Chairman Wallace told The Final Call. The FBI turned them against one another, through false information, and misinformation actually set them up with one another to kill each other, he said.

“We must lift up and honor those who died in this cause, on both sides and all of our organizations, as they thought they were doing the right thing,” said Student Minister Abdul Waliullah Muhammad in words relayed from Minister Farrakhan. “Often time, we did not see the hand of the enemy that was in our midst that created the issues that we’ve dealt with,” he said.

Audience applause grew louder as Student Minister Muhammad pinpointed that despite the enemy’s efforts to maintain division, Chairman Wallace and Dr. Karenga came together on their own accord, unified as brothers, and set an example for others to do the same.

“O you who believe, if an unrighteous person brings you news, look carefully into it, in case you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you did,” he recited from the Holy Qur’an, the Islamic holy book from Chapter 49, verse 6.

Chairman Wallace and Dr. Karenga may have just signed the historic agreement, but it occurred a long time ago, in the making for 27 years, since the Million Man March, added Student Minister Muhammad. The Minister said that this is a pledge, signed from the top, but it’s not reality, he stated.

“The reality must be what we now carry into practice, from the very top from Dr. Karenga and his team, from Chairman Wallace and his team, all the way down to every single member of the organizations to know that this is what God has called for. This is what the ancestors have called for, and you and I must honor that call and that you and I must work for unity,” added Student Minister Muhammad.

A Black History Month roundtable forum is in the works for 2023 so Chairman Wallace and Dr. Karenga may discuss their efforts toward reconciliation and future plans to help people to eradicate fear and paranoia of each other.

“The importance of reconciliation is we must learn to forgive each other,” stated Chairman Wallace. “Now, if we can do it, then others can do it, especially our brothers that call themselves Bloods and CRIPS,” he told The Final Call. He feels the so-called street gangs started off on the right path of trying to fill in the gap for Us and the Panthers, but got turned around and twisted, undoubtedly victimized by the same governmental wartime tactics used against Us and the Panthers, he pointed out.

“You notice every time they go to do a truce, the truce gets derailed! Well, the government ain’t trying to have them to reconcile with each other. They love our community being in a state of confusion and in fear of one another,” stated Chairman Wallace. “Let’s get back to some semblance of the ‘60s, where we donned our afros and our dashikis and we were bumping each other’s fists and hugging each other … to where I can just walk out and shake your hand, don’t even have to know you, and love you for who you are. We didn’t even have to know each other.”

(Final Call Staff contributed to this report.)