“We’re Going to Move Against Your Moms and Dads”: The Black Panther Party Comes to Scarborough College

“We’re Going to Move Against Your Moms and Dads”: The Black Panther Party Comes to Scarborough College

     The Black Panther Party (BPP) came to Scarborough College to inspire a black revolution.  “Black is beautiful” they declared to Scarborough Colleges’ predominantly white student population in March 1970. Six members of the BPP from Chicago took the stage in the Meeting Place in front of a large group of curious students to give a talk on their activist movement – and particularly, the politics of higher education in North America (The Scarboro Mirror, What’s the Value of Pseudo-Friends?”, 1970; The Scarboro Mirror, “Black Panther Declares Canada a ‘U.S. Running Dog’”, 1970; The Scarboro Mirror, “Black Panthers Revealed”, 1970).  

     The BPP were a militaristic-styled organization composed of African-Americans that not only challenged ongoing racism within the U.S, but also racism, colonialism and imperialism occurring in other nation-states. Panther members were easily identified through their distinguishable uniforms, consisting of black leather jackets, black berets, and natural afros, while always being armed. Panthers utilized arms to defend themselves, and fellow African-Americans residing in the ‘ghettos’, from racist police officers who routinely lurked in those streets (Workneh, Finley & HuffPost US, 2017; Flood, 2014; The Scarboro Mirror, “Panthers Claim Canada Just as Racist as U.S”, 1970). 

    At the campus, however, the Panthers encouraged students to drop-out of their college studies in order to join the protest efforts. Post-secondary institutions, they argued, were not able to facilitate revolutionary thinking. Rather, they were designed to control the youths’ minds and produce graduates that resembled their “square” professors. The Panthers cautioned their audience that Scarborough College was no different – it was indeed a “jazzy building, but the curriculum is still the same” (as quoted in The Scarboro Mirror, ‘Black Panther Declares Canada a ‘U.S. Running Dog’, 1970).  

     It appeared that Scarborough Colleges’ white students seemed divided in lending their support to the Panthers’ cause – but the Panthers expected such a reaction, arguing that white students were not able to whole-committedly join the revolution because they did not experience racial discrimination. Additionally, the Panthers argued that white students would be further discouraged to join once they realized that the BPPs’ fight against white supremacy entailed personally challenging the students and their loved ones. As one Panther member cautioned: We’re going to move against your moms and dads.” (The Scarboro Mirror, ‘‘Panthers Claim Canada Just as Racist as U.S’, 1970; The Willowdale Mirror, ‘What’s the Value of Pseudo-Friends?’, 1970;).   

      After delivering such heavy words, the Panthers passed around a bucket to collect funds to support their operations. However, according to reports, it appears that the Panthers did not receive many donations. While some refused to donate, others gave loose change. What exactly, would the donations collected at Scarborough College be used for? While the specifics were not mentioned in any of the reports regarding their visit to Scarborough College, we can speculate based on the Panthers’ visits to Canada’s many other post-secondary institutions during the same year. A report on the Black Panthers’ 1970 visit to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, stated that the Panthers came up north to collect a total of $6 million dollars for the release of 200 of their fellow Panthers in prison (The Scarboro Mirror, ‘‘Panthers Claim Canada Just as Racist as U.S’, 1970; The Willowdale Mirror, ‘What’s the Value of Pseudo-Friends?’, 1970; Griffin, 1970)  

     We were very surprised to uncover this story in the UTSC archives. The Panthers prohibited anyone from photographing, or audio recording them. There were, however, a few sneaky community and city journalists on site during their visit, who were able to capture this sole photo of the Panthers. Unfortunately, we have no clues as to the Panthers’ impact on Scarborough College – or what happened after the Panthers left campus. (The Scarboro Mirror, “Black Panthers Revealed”, 1970; The Willowdale Mirror, ‘What’s the Value of Pseudo-Friends?’, 1970; Workneh, Finley & HuffPost US, 2017).  

Sources: 

Flood, D. (2014). “A Black Panther in the Great White North: Fred Hampton Visits Saskatchewan, 1969”. Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 8(2), 21-50.  doi:10.14321/jstudradi.8.2.0021 

Griffin, E. (1970). “Panthers see U.S Whites as Fascists, Pigs: Address Aplauding Canadian Students”. Chicago Tribune (1963-1996). Retrieved from http://myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/docview/169044699?accountid=14771 

The Scarboro Mirror. (1970, March 25). “Black Panthers Revealed”. The Scarboro Mirror. Retrieved from UTSC Archives Legacy Collection, file 002-E-9-4-1, “General Publicity 1970”. University of Toronto Scarborough Library, Archives & Special Collections. 

The Scarboro Mirror. (1970, March 25). “Black Panther Declares Canada a ‘U.S Running Dog’.  The Scarboro Mirror. Retrieved fromUTSC Archives Legacy Collection, file 002-E-9-4-1,   “General Publicity 1970”. University of Toronto Scarborough Library, Archives & Special Collections

The Scarboro Mirror. (1970, March 25). “Panthers Claim Canada Just as Racist as U.S”. The  Scarboro Mirror. Retrieved fromUTSC Archives Legacy Collection, file 002-E-9-4-1,  “General Publicity 1970”. University of Toronto Scarborough Library, Archives & Special Collecgions.

Willowdale Mirror. (1970, March 25). “What’s the Value of Pseudo-Friends?”. Willowdale Mirror. Retrieved fromUTSC Archives Legacy Collection, file 002-E-9-4-1, “General Publicity 1970”. University of Toronto Scarborough Library, Archives & Special Collections.  

Workneh, Lilly, Finley, Taryn, and HuffPost US. “27 Important Facts Everyone Should Know About The Black Panthers.” Huffington Post, February 18, 2016, https: www.huffingtonpost.ca/. 

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