Elaine Brown, a Black Panther, was appointed as the chairman of the Black Panther Party after its founder Huey Newton fled to Cuba for murder charges against 17-year-old Oakland native Kathleen Smith. Brown reigned as chairwoman from 1974 to 1977, facing opposition from fellow male Black Panthers, as she was the only woman to head the Party. During her time, she focused on building up the Oakland Community Learning Center, known for its “academic excellence” by Oakland.
The Oakland Community Learning Center was located on 6114 East 14th Street (now known as International Boulevard) in East Oakland. It was formerly known as the
Intercommunal Youth Institute and as the Oakland Community School in 1977. Opening in 1973, the school was operated by party members and enrolled about 60 students, growing into 120 students not too long, teaching students from ages two to eleven.
According to the Black Panther Party newspaper, the school held “eight classrooms, an art room, a curriculum center, a large, fully-equipped kitchen, a huge cafeteria area, and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 350 which is used for drama presentations and other School programs.”