Dr. Leroy Haynes

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A History of the Development of the BPP in Texas

Previously I was an organizer with SNCC in Austin, Texas, at the time that H. Rap Brown was head of SNCC. In 1968, I moved from Austin to Dallas. At that time we encountered some other brothers who were in SNCC and kept some relationship together after Ernest McMillan, the former head of SNCC in Dallas had left. We were grappling with the organization of a Black Panther Party Chapter in Dallas, Texas. There were three groups of people who actually developed the Panther Chapter in Dallas. One was former SNCC workers, Charlie Paul Henderson, Curtis Gaines, myself and D. Lewis; then the other part was a Black Student Union called SOUL at the Community College in Dallas.

So from SNCC and SOUL and some people from the community, we gathered together to acquire a Black Panther Chapter in Dallas, Texas. In 1969, we went down to Los Angeles, CA, and met with chief of staff, David Hilliard and Masai Hewitt and some other members of the Central Committee. At that time Geronimo Pratt was over the Los Angeles Chapter.

We were placed under the supervision of Geronimo Pratt. So we actually went back to Dallas and began to organize and develop the various survival programs. We were confronted with many of the challenges of all Panther chapters; struggles with infiltration, with the police department and struggles within the community itself. We were infiltrated at an early stage of the Party and that was a major hindrance to our development.

From Dallas, we eventually began to spread and organize into Texas and we became a central point for the organization. We were able to develop cadres as far away as Abilene and West Texas and Tyler, Texas and Southeast and Beaumont, Texas. The People's Party in Houston was in the process of developing and moving toward eventually becoming a Chapter itself.

Once Curtis Gaines was thrown out of the Party as the head of the Dallas Chapter, we were under the supervision of the Houston Chapter. The Houston Chapter supervised the work and activity for quite a while. The Party has some very strong survival programs. We were feeding several hundred kids in the Free Breakfast Program.

We had a Liberation School, we had Free Grocery Program and a Sickle Cell Anemia Program. There were some very strong survival programs that were taking place. Some key persons who participated in the beginning organizing process of the Party were James Skip Shockley, Odinga and Charlie Paul Henderson. We were able to have an impact in the various communities throughout Texas and set stuff in motion, especially on police community control.

At our height in the 70's, we ran a slate for the City Council and I was one of the candidates who ran in 1973. The party in Texas began to decline in between 1973 and 1975. At that time I went on to seminary and graduated with a Master's degree and later on went on for a Doctor's degree. I became both an academic professor in philosophy and religion and a pastor within the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

My heart and the influence of the Party always kept me community minded, so I began to integrate those things into my ministry, developing a national drug abuse program called Resurrection. Also, an anti-gang program called Deliverance and working on various community issues in the various communities I participated and pastored in.

The Party gave me the opportunity to develop leadership and impact our community locally and statewide and influence and mentor many young men and young ladies with that consciousness as being a part of the great liberation struggle and the continuation with our fore-parents from slavery to the civil rights movement to the post-civil rights movement. And so I thank god for the opportunity and the experiences of the Black Panther Party and the leadership that helped shape my life and helped me to develop in that process.

-- Dr. Leroy Haynes