Another shade of Black Panther...

Richard Aoki (Field Marshall)

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Richard Aoki (Field Marshall)

Growing up was know easy job for Richard at the early stages in his life he and his family were placed in an Internment camp during World War II, a childhood prisoner held at Topaz Concenation camp in Utah from 1942-1945. He joined the military at a young age, Having left the Army after two years of service, Richard was intimately aware of the vicious treatment and punishment that the U.S. government could meter out.

Being Japanese-American and growing up in Black West Oakland, he was tight with Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, as well as David Hilliard years before the party started. He also attended Merritt College for two years before transferring to U.C. Berkeley in 1966. Richard remembers" we had discussed pressing political, social issues of the day, that we wanted to do something about it, so we got together one night and hammed out the 10 point program of the Black Panther Party.

Richard said, there were several Asian American members of the BPP, he was the only one attain a formal leadership role. Richard attended the first meeting of the BPP his connection to the community along with revolutionary politics and his action made it easy for other Panthers to accept him as a equal, he was made branch captain they accepted his rank, and later in the Party Huey promoted him to Field Marshall. Richard said, "one of the first things the Party did was patrol the police of Oakland, they were killing a dude a week, and set up Political Education classes for members and the community."

Richard says" I've seen where unity amongst the races yielded positives results. I don't see any other way for people to gain freedom, justice, equality here except by being inclusionst"

Enrolling at U.C. Berkeley soon after the founding of the BPP, Richard became a leading member of the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA). A student based organization whom platform closely resembled the Party's 10 point program. Richard would recruit blacks on the campus by passing out information and telling students about the Party and when Elrage Clever started teaching classes on campus in 1968(Experienmental class 139X) he was there organizing for the BPP.

From 1968, onward Richard was involved in networking with various groups cutting across communities, and nationalities. Richard says" One of the least understood aspects of the liberation movement era is the impact that many Black, Brown, Yellow, Red radicals had on one another. Ideological and organizational influences spilled across vast distances, while Panthers absorbed Maoism, Asian Americans took to the lectures and speeches of Huey Newton, Chicanos and Puerto Rican radicals replicated some of the BPP' Serve the People programs" as well as Native Americans like groups like AIM".

Richard was a founding member of the Third World Liberation Front on the campus of UO Berkeley in 1969 which was a formation of African Americans, Native Americans, Africans, Mexican Americans, Asian students, striking to win demands for a Third World College on campus.

The college would include departments for Chicano studies, and Native American Asian, and Africans studies, with the aim of the program being to help oppressed minority communities in American. TWLF is were striking for the same basic demands that the students at San Francisco State were. The formation of radical students successfully challenged, the most conservative intuitions in the nation the University system and won vital space in the form of Ethnic Studies Depts. On both UC Berkeley as well as San Francisco State campuses With these new departments has made higher education transformed the cultural imagation of many people and communities of color, thanks to people like Richard Aoki who paved the way for many others to fellow. Richard said, "That if it not for the BPP the many student and political groups for students rights would not have emerge."

Note: Richard donated some of the first defend weapons for police patrols to the BPP. Richard has always been active in the communities, and today after he has retired from his job, he still doing workshops and speaking about the past as well as present conditions like the War, Economy, and Police Abuse.

My dear friend and warrior.