Dr. Huey Newton (1942-1989)
Dr. Huey Newton was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. A native of Monroe, Newton was a political activist and revolutionary who, along with Bobby Seale, co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966. He continued to pursue an education, eventually earning a Ph.D. in social philosophy. In 1989 he was shot and killed in Oakland, California. He was the youngest of seven children of Armelia Johnson and Walter Newton, a sharecropper and Baptist lay preacher. His parents named him after former Governor of Louisiana Huey Long. In 1945, the family migrated to Oakland, California, as part of the second wave of the Great Migration of African Americans out of the South to the Midwest and West. The Newton family was close-knit, but quite poor, and often relocated throughout the San Francisco Bay area during Newton’s childhood. Despite this, Newton said he never went without food and shelter as a child. As a teenager, he was arrested several times for minor offenses, including gun possession and vandalism at age 14. Newton graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1959 without being able to read, although he later taught himself: The Republic by Plato was the first book he read. Newton also attended Merritt College, where he earned an Associate of Arts degree in 1966. He then later attended San Francisco Law School and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree and in 1980, a Ph.D. As a student at Merritt College in Oakland, Newton became involved in politics in the Bay Area. He joined the Afro-American Association (AAA), became a prominent member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, Beta Tau chapter; and played a role in getting the first African-American History course adopted as part of the college’s curriculum. He read the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Mao Zedong, Durkheim, and Che Guevara. During his time at Merritt College he met Bobby Seale, and the two organized the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October 1966. Based on a casual conversation, Seale became Chairman and Newton became Minister of Defense.