A new exhibit honoring the Black Panther Party is opening in Oakland on Juneteenth
An apartment in Oakland will house a temporary museum that will feature photos, banners and posters that explore and highlight the history and impact of the organization.
A special pop-up exhibit is coming to the Bay Area in honor of the Black Panther Party on June 19.
An Oakland, California-area apartment owned by Jilchristina Vest will house a “mini museum” curated by archivist Lisbet Tellefsen.
Upon becoming the owner of the first-floor apartment after former tenants moved out, Vest decided to revamp the space to make it more community-oriented.
“It felt like it needed to be something more than somebody’s apartment,” Vest told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The 1,000-square-foot exhibit will do just that, as it will display various photos, banners and posters that explore and highlight the history of the Black Panther Party.
Founded in 1966 in Oakland by college students and activists Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, The Black Panther Party was a political organization created to challenge police brutality against the African-American community.
After the original formation of the organization, Newton and Seale crafted a more detailed plan for the organization to follow, with the goal of economically empowering Black communities nationwide.
Beyond the fight to end police brutality, other efforts included demands for decent housing, full employment, education that included African-American history, freedom for unjustly incarcerated Black men and more.
The impact of the Black Panther Party is still felt today, as members were responsible for launching the free breakfast program for school children, food banks, health clinics and education outreach initiatives that still exist more than 50 years later, and nearly 40 years since the organization dissolved.
“I hope people get a fuller picture of the Panthers and what they represented and what they were able to accomplish,” Tellefsen told the Chronicle.
The property where the exhibit will be located stands at the street corner near where Newton was shot and killed in 1989, and a few blocks away from the Black Panther Party’s former headquarters. The exterior of the building is decorated with a large mural dedicated to the women of the Black Panther Party.
Back in February, Vest told The East Bay Times that she has long wanted to honor the women of the Black Panther Party.
She was able to do that when commissioning Oakland-based muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith to paint the mural on the side of the house.
Given the current racial tensions and conversations surrounding law enforcement reform, Vest’s goal was for people to walk by and feel pride and positivity, rather than strife.
“I want to have people smile when they look at my house, I don’t want them to feel the grief that we’re reminded of all of the time,” said Vest to the East Bay Times.
“I want people, specifically young girls, to be able to walk up to my house and look up, have their shoulders go back, have them stand up stronger and feel the pride that this is their history, and they have something to be celebrated,” she added.
Wolfe-Goldsmith shared similar ideals, which is why she gladly accepted the job.
“It’s an honor to work on a project honoring so many amazing women. Part of the reason that I moved to Oakland is its history of political activism and activism around racial justice and the Black Panthers in particular,” Wolfe-Goldsmith told the East Bay Times.
The forthcoming Black Panther Party exhibit in Oakland will officially open on Saturday, June 19. There will be a 30-minute time limit for visitors to walk around the space, with a limit of five people allowed at any single time. Tickets are available for purchase here.