Headquarters #4

From armed headquarters to "Black Twitter"

The Black Panther Party moved its Central Headquarters to Peralta Street in 1970. Leaders hoped that if their center blended in more demographically than previous locations then it would be harder for members to be followed and patrolled by police. Having learned from previous attacks, security was tight. In a blog entry, former Panther Billy X. Jennings remembers the building’s security thus:
“We had a small fence around the front yard of the office that looked like all the others on the block. Once you opened the gate and walked those 18 ft to the front door, you would be greeted by me or whoever was on security, asked whom you wanted to see or the nature of your business. The front door was heavily fortified with steel plates and painted over in black so not to be noticed. Once inside, you would be asked to be seated until the person you wanted came out. Most likely it would be in the Day room which was right by the front door. The Day room was the security outpost and the person on security sat in the Day room and watched the front of the house. From the Day room windows, you could look up and down Peralta St. for a few blocks, as well as seeing down 12th Street. The person on security was armed. I liked to pack a concealed 9mm, which had 15 shots in case of an attack by police…”
It was in this heavily guarded building that the Party’s “Ministry of Information” (newspaper staff) was located. Tight security was necessary because selling the newspaper was the Party’s main means of disseminating information and fundraising. Because events happened in such rapid succession, the small staff worked hard to produce one paper each week. Jennings recalls that “The newspaper staff worked hard and only had a few days off before they started on the next issue. Many a night the newspaper staff worked all night to make the deadline of having the paper ready by Tuesday night so it could be printed on Wednesday. I would see the staff sleeping in chairs and on the floor. They didn't get the credit they deserve.” After each production cycle Party members delivered copies on foot at various locations in the Bay Area.
While today’s #BlackLivesMatter activists face similar danger of attack, their means of “spreading the word” has become much safer. Although media outlets have their own spin, personal Twitter accounts of movement leaders have become spaces for activists and allies to find the “truth” as well as information about protests, boycotts, etc. Bree Newsome, for example, saw an explosion of Twitter followers after she scaled the pole to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state capitol. Interested parties can follow #ConcernedStudent1950 for information about Mizzou protests and solidarity efforts. #BlackLivesMatter leader Deray McKesson Tweets his responses to conversations with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Followers can retweet, screenshot, and share information like this ad infinitum. In 2015 flow of this information can not be cut off by a shootout although it may be hindered by trolls from time to time.

Access Information:

Location no longer exists as Black Panther Headquarters. Currently a 5 bedroom home valued at $685,947.00

Street Address:

1048 Peralta St, Oakland, CA 94607 [map]

Cite this Page:

Camille J. Brown, “Headquarters #4,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 12, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/90.

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