By Roger Catlin
October 22, 2008
In one of the most bizarre aspects of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial
covered in Brett Morgan's film "Chicago 10" tonight on "Independent
Lens" was when Black Panther Party President Bobby Seale was
literally bound and gagged in the courtroom.
He was not gagged at press tour in July when he spoke voluminously
about the film, those times, what's happened since and Barack Obama's
"That year, 1968, was profound for me," he said. "It was the growth
of my Black Panther Party following the death of Martin Luther King.
Bobby Kennedy was killed, and then, there was the lashing of the
Democratic National Convention. And, of course, I wound up on trial
But a lot has been accomplished since then, he said.
"I mean, when we started my organization in the mid-1960s, 1966,
there were less than a hundred duly elected black politicians," Seale
said.Today, he added, "there's over 15,000 duly elected black
politicians there, double the amount of women being elected who
weren't being elected at that time, plus the Latinos and other
peoples of color. So I think that's a big change."
Even so, "it's just a continuing thing," he said. "I see a lot of
gain and a lot of problems still yet to be solved."
Indeed, he cites two former Black Panther party members who are now
in the United States Congress -- Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Cal.) and Bobby
Rush (D-Ill.). "We have other politicians being elected in cities all
over the United States of America and various places who were former
Black Panther party members," Seale says.
As for Obama, Seale says, "it's like a progressive necessity, to me,
that he becomes the President of the United States of America in
terms of evolving a psychology for America humanity to understand
that we've somewhat gotten rid of the histories old institutionalized
racist crap that went down in our so-called democracy. That's what
Obama represents in that context."
All of this happened at the TV writers press tour, keep in mind. So
naturally there was one weird exchange. Such as a reporter who
probably thought he was being sarcastic when he asked:
Q. Bobby Seale, have you lost any of your passion over the years? And
if not, what is your secret?
A. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for any
one people to dissolve the political bondage which are connected with
another and to assume among the powers of the Earth to separate and
equal station at which the laws of nature and natures God entitled
them a decent respect to the opinions of human kind dictate that they
should declare the causes which impel them to dissolve their
political bondage with a long train of abuses and use of patience
pursues and invariably invents a design, a design to reduce a people
under absolute despotism, then it is the right of the people to alter
or change that government and provide new guards with a future
security in happiness.
Hardly anybody noticed that this fast-spoken screed was actually the
Declaration of Independence committed to memory. So he added:
No, I don't think I've lost too much passion. I hang in that, and I
believe that. I truly believe in all of this.