The first stop on the Black Panther Legacy Tour through the sad streets of the west side of Oakland, Calif., on Saturday was a bakery where the owner, Kim Cloud, handed out free cake and cookies to a busload of tourists.
It was payback time. When Cloud, 35, was a little boy, he and his four siblings often ate at the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program in a church a few blocks away, landmark No. 11 on your tour map.
“Many times, they fed my whole family,” said Cloud, whose bakery is on the site of the first Panther headquarters. “The Panthers helped a lot of people, and I’m glad they’re not letting our history die out.”
Last month, David Hilliard, former chief of staff for the Panthers, began taking students, teachers, retirees and anyone else with $20 on a bus tour through the Oakland neighborhood where the Panthers were founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in the fall of 1966.
Although some former members decry the tours as Disneyesque, there have been three so far, lasting 60 to 90 minutes each.
“This is our primary asset, our history. We have nothing else to market. But we also saw the tours as a forum to continue our legacy,” Hilliard said.
That legacy includes the free breakfast program, health clinics and frequent confrontations with the law. The Panthers, who were mostly in their teens and early 20s, mixed revolutionary rhetoric and black nationalism influenced by Malcolm X.