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Mini Museum Honoring Black Panther Party Set To Open On Juneteenth In Oakland

Mini Museum Honoring Black Panther Party Set To Open On Juneteenth In Oakland

Preserving the legacy in perpetuity.

A mini-museum honoring the Black Panther Party  is set to open on Juneteenth in Oakland, California, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

A first floor Bay Area apartment is being converted into an exhibit, honoring and telling the story of the Black Panther Party (BPP). The 1,000-square-foot mini museum is set to open on June 19th with a pop up exhibit by archivist and collector, Lisbet Tellefsen.

“I hope people get a fuller picture of the Panthers and what they represented and what they were able to accomplish,” Tellefsen told reporters. The West Oakland home is the location where BPP co-founder Huey P. Newton was fatally killed. The homeowner, Jilchristina Vest, decided to convert the space into a museum after tenants moved out. Recently, Vest spearheaded efforts to decorate the exterior with a mural dedicated to the women of the Panther Party, Smithsonian Magazine reports.

“It felt like it needed to be something more than somebody’s apartment,” Vest told reporters.

Photos, banners, and posters about the BPP will enshrine the place with visitors being allotted 30 minute intervals to walk through the exhibit. Vest hopes to one day have the home declared as a historical landmark, eventually being able to turn it into a community center.

Tellefsen and Vest are a part of community efforts to preserve the legacy of the BPP in Oakland. Vest bought the property in 2000, learning more about the history of the place after she moved in. The building is not far from the former BPP headquarters at 1048 Peralta Street. The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation is also working to digitize archives and create public art telling the history of the party. 

“It doesn’t happen anymore but there used to be a group of young Black Panthers who would march to [where] Huey was murdered and march in honor of him,” said Vest.

Former BPP member Billy X Jennings also is supporting efforts, starting the “It’s About Time” archive, housed in a physical space in Sacramento. Stanford University also holds a large archive of radical underground newspapers from the 1960s and ‘70s entitled Newton’s papers

“I made a promise at the time that we were going to start our own archives, and we did. It’s very important to have the correct information to educate people about the legacy of the party,” said Jennings.

Fredrika, the widow of Newton, said all of the work is needed to counteract the lies promulgated by the government about the BPP. 

“It’s exactly what we did in the Black Panther Party: using art as education,” Fredrika said.

Tickets for the Black Panther Party mini museum are available for purchase here.

Photo Courtesy of Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle