California Elementary School Students Are Learning To Love The Black Panthers

Bay Area lesson plan teaches children that Black Panthers were a misunderstood civil rights group
(Photo by Dominique BERRETTY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Plaque à l’entrée du siège du Black Panther Party en Algérie.

California elementary schools are teaching students in the Bay Area to admire the Black Panthers, a militant Marxist organization that publicly called for the use of guerilla warfare tactics against the United States government.

Hayward Unified School District (HUSD), located in California’s Bay Area, published a lesson plan asking the question, “How have BIPOC resisted injustice?” Though the lesson plan’s stated goal was to promote “justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another,” it directs teachers to a book titled “The ABC’s of the Black Panther Party.”

The book, published by Decolonizing Education Publishing, “uses the alphabet and rhyming to provide children with an introduction to the [Black Panther Party] from a decolonized or anti-oppressive viewpoint.” The lesson plan labels the book as the “elementary focal text,” indicating that it is intended to be used in lessons for young children.

“How can I support building capacity and ability to read, write, think, speak in ways to understand power and equity in order to understand and promote anti-oppression through action?” asks the lesson plan, which was created by equity administrator Candace Cofield.

“Students will learn about the reasons Bobby Seale and Huey Newton started the Black Panther Party as well as some of their lasting impact on the history of racial justice,” the lesson plan says. “Students will use multiple sources to clarify the goals and intentions of the Black Panther Party by writing a novel Preamble to their historical 10 Point Plan.”

Though one video included in the lesson plan admits that the Black Panthers Party “is not an organization that was perfect and it shouldn’t be overly romanticized,” the same video also states that “at the same time, its legacy shouldn’t be minimized or mischaracterized.” It goes on to add “the Black Panther Party’s contribution to the black freedom struggles of the 1960, and 1970’s, and today, was profound, and that means sitting with all the complexities.”

The less plan also includes a list of suggested resources on the Black Panthers, including the “13 BLM Guiding Principles” and one video that touted the organization’s “overlooked health programs” and called it a “misunderstood civil rights group.”

But the Black Panther Party itself was open about its perspective on violence and Marxism.

The organization published a newspaper, archived by a Marxist website, praising violent communists like Che Guevera and quoting Mao Zedong’s statement that “war can only be abolished through war and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.” The organization even boasted that it was “applying the tactics of guerilla warfare to this racist America” in the “struggle for liberation” in its September 1968 publication.

“Pigs shot in Cleveland gunfire at Hunter’s Point pig station,” an excerpt from the Black Panther Party’s newspaper reads, making reference to police. “No party member will point or fire a weapon unnecessarily or accidentally at anyone other than the enemy,” one of the organization’s ten rules states. An illustration in the organization’s newspaper shows several pigs laying on the ground, riddled with bullet holes.

Another edition of the organization’s newspaper, this one from July 3rd 1967, includes an illustration of a militant with a Che Guevara quote espousing the necessity of hate in guerrilla warfare movements. “Intransigent hate,” it says, “takes one beyond the natural limitations of a human being and converts one into an effective, violent, single-minded killing machine.” Guevara argues “our soldiers must be like that.”

HUSD’s leftwing agenda goes far beyond praise for the Black Panther Party. It also features lessons on gender identity, and documents show it hosts an LGBT solidarity week, complete with an explanation on “Undoing The Whitewashing of LGBTQ+ History.”

The district also pledged a whopping $40 million to develop and implement an ethnic studies curriculum and more recently agreed to spend over $90,000 on a “Liberated Ethnic Studies Curriculum” with an organization that openly embraces Critical Race Theory and hopes to develop students’ “critical consciousness” through “anti racist and decolonial pedagogy.”

HUSD also spent $57,000 with an organization called “Woke Kindergarten” that taught Critical Race Theory and aimed to “disrupt whiteness” and another $23,000 with Quetzal Education Services, an organization that taught “anti-racist math pedagogy.”

The district dropped another $43,000 on training from Race Work, an organization that teaches students to become Critical Race Theory activists and was recently awarded another contract by a different Bay Area school district.

Equity Administrator Candace Cohfield and HUSD Superintendent Jason Reimann did not respond to requests for comment.

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