How the Black Panthers’ Breakfast Program Both Inspired and Threatened the Government

Free breakfast for school children was one of the Black Panthers’ most far-sighted and effective programs.

Moorbey'z Blog

BY ERIN BLAKEMORE

A teacher and his at a Black Panther liberation school. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
A teacher and his at a Black Panther liberation school. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

In 1969, a group of children sat down to a free breakfast before school. On the menu: chocolate milk, eggs, meat, cereal and fresh oranges. The scene wouldn’t be out of place in a school cafeteria these days—but the federal government wasn’t providing the food. Instead, breakfast was served thanks to the Black Panther Party.

At the time, the militant black nationalist party was vilified in the news media and feared by those intimidated by its message of black power and its commitment to ending police brutality and the subjugation of black Americans. But for students eating breakfast, the Black Panthers’ politics were less interesting than the meals they were providing.

“The children, many of whom had never eaten breakfast before the Panthers started their program,” the Sun Reporterwrote, “think the Panthers…

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3 thoughts on “How the Black Panthers’ Breakfast Program Both Inspired and Threatened the Government

  1. So, I guess because the little Black children raised their fist in the air which was likened to a “Black power” sign, that made it seem all too militant and so the reign of terror by the government against the Black Panthers was justified? Sometimes, I just have to shake my head over it all!

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  2. What I found most interesting about the article was that the notion of giving little Black kids free breakfast was virtually unheard of prior to the Black Panthers – but when teachers reported the big improvement in school performance, lots of social service agencies started doing it. I think I’ve already told you about my experience with the Black Panthers – how they supported me in the classroom during the inner city riots in Milwaukee.

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    • Yes, I read about that and I also think it a shame that someone who has as much HEART as you do had to flee this hellhole for her very life! But I am glad you did and I hope you never return to this shithole. You are the smart one for leaving!

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