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David Hilliard was born in Oakland, California, on 15th May, 1942. He was one of the first members of the Black Panther Party (BPP)and became chief of staff of the organization.
Hilliard was arrested in January, 1968, for passing out leaflets at Oakland Technical High School. When Huey Newton was arrested in September, 1968, Hilliard took over the command of the BPP.
On 6th April, 1968 eight BPP members, including Hilliard, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Hutton, were travelling in two cars when they were ambushed by the Oakland police. Cleaver and Hutton ran for cover and found themselves in a basement surrounded by police. The building was fired upon for over an hour. When a tear-gas canister was thrown into the basement the two men decided to surrender. Cleaver was wounded in the leg and so Hutton said he would go first. When he left the building with his hands in the air he was shot twelve times by the police and was killed instantly.
The activities of the Black Panthers came to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Hoover described the Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and in November 1968 ordered the FBI to employ "hard-hitting counter-intelligence measures to cripple the Black Panthers".
On 3rd December, 1969, Hilliard was arrested and charged with threatening the life of President Richard Nixon. He was accused of saying at a meeting "we will kill Nixon". Later that month Hilliard was found guilty of carrying a gun and was sentenced to a 6 months in prison.
Hilliard was also charged with shooting at the police during the incident when Bobby Hutton was killed. In July, 1971, Hilliard was found guilty of this offence and received a one to ten year prison term.
In 1993 Hilliard joined Fredrika Newton in establishing the Huey P. Newton Foundation. The non-profit educational organization provides community-based programs, which include literacy, voter outreach and health-related components. The following year David Hilliard published his autobiography, This Side of Glory (1994).
Q: What is the reason for the purge that is going on in the Black Panther Party?
A. We related to what Lenin said, "that a party that purges itself grows to become stronger." The purging is very good. You recognize that there is a diffusion within the rank and file of the party, within the internal structure of the party. So the very fact that you purge strengthens the party. You get rid of all the criminal elements, and work with the people left. You will become stronger, more of a fortress. Quoting form Stalin, I think he said something like "the party used to be hospitable, it would yield to the opinions of all the sympathizers. "But, now the party has become like a fortress." And that the party is only interested in the very best and the most revolutionary sections of society. We try now to attract the very best. And our doors are not open to anyone that decides that they want to join the party. Now the people that become a part of the rank and file of the Black Panther Party will definitely have to be somebody who wants to carry out the desires and aspirations of the oppressed people."
Q. What of the alliance with "DRUM" "FRUM"?
A. That was an alliance that was put together by Kenny Horston. He is the leader of the Black Panther Caucus out at General Motors in Fremont. Kenny had went back east to do some investigation because he became interested in trying to organize the workers, the black workers in particular. He went back and had discussions with members of DRUM and members of the Ford revolutionary movement that they have back there. He found out that the majority of the members within the two organizations were Panther Party members. That was a very gladdening experience to know, that the brothers back there hand begun to organize the workers. And really moving to try and put up a working class force in order to deliver a very mighty and telling blow to the imperialistic system.
I think the credit should be attributed to Kenny Horston the brother that came up with the idea of trying to make some coalition with the Black Caucus here in Fremont, and the brothers in Detroit.
We see the necessity of making some alliances with the working class, black, white, Latin American, Orientals, and or what have you. We see that as being a very grave necessity that the revolution as a whole is dependent upon making a coalition with the other working class people. Panthers themselves are workers, it is just that we consider ourselves the most advanced detachment of the working class. Because of the theoretical analysis and because we have applied theoretically the ideas and works of Marx and Lenin and we have tested them in the external world, which proves that there is a need for the masses of the people, and a need for solidarity of the working class. Our whole thing about discovering the triumvirate consisting of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. It is just a matter of trying to give a very complete picture of history. It's like considering the part without the whole to talk about Lenin and Marx, to talk about Mao Tse Tung and his deed without really bringing Stalin in on the overall historical scene. Stalin played a very important part in the Russian revolution and he played an important part in the first Socialist State manifested in Russia.
It is not a thing that we are Maoist or Stalinist, Leninist. We say that there is no such animal as a Maoist --- that there is just Marxist, Leninist, and that Stalin was truly a Marxist-Leninist. He always praised Lenin and carried out the ideas of Lenin. It's just a matter of people and history in its totality and telling the true story of what took place.
The reason that they fear Joseph Stalin is because of the distorted facts that they have gained through the Western press.
The one thing that we respect about Stalin, is that Stalin was able to capture the will of the people. He was able to put forth the will of the people more so than anyone else.
The ideology of the Black Panther Party is the historical experiences of Black people in America translated through Marxism-Leninism. When we review the past history of Black people in this country, we realize that after 400 years we are victims of the oppressive machinery that gags, binds and chains Black men who speak out in defense of their alleged constitutional rights.
Many people act as if they were surprised at what's happening to the Chairman of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, but I think a careful examination of who our persecutors are will clear the minds of the masses of people that could not see through the so-called judicial smokescreen of justice. These people that tortured and gagged and chained Bobby are the descendants of pirates. Genocidal murderers of the Red Man; users of the atomic bomb upon the Japanese people. The enslavers and exploiters of Blacks in this country right up until this very day.
The Black Panther Party since its inception has always used the weapon of example to educate the masses. When the Minister of Defense, Huey P. Newton, sent a delegation of armed Panthers to the California state Capitol this was a process of educating the people by example that Blacks did not have their rights guaranteed by the constitution to bear arms in defense of their lives against racist mobs of fascists in or out of uniform. So that Huey P. Newton made the statement "an unarmed people are either enslaved or subjected to slavery at any given time."
It is sometimes hard to understand how people react to the term fascist. They think the fascists left when the Hitlerites were defeated. I relate to what Eldridge says, "that the American flag and the American eagle are the true symbols of fascism." The American historian has a way of justifying this system by using Germany as the most vicious enemy against mankind, this is perhaps true for the people of Jewish descent. But when we really check this shit out, starting with the genocide of the Indians, the 50,000,000 Black people slaughtered by the oppressors when taken against their will at the point of guns, over 400 years ago, right here in America. Then reminding ourselves of the genocidal and imperialist war against the Vietnamese people, the burning of Blacks on the sacred cross of Christianity. Then it becomes easier to relate to the chieftains of fascism, imperialism, racism; and Bobby Seale's demand for his right to self defense.
David Hilliard - History
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Hear Our Roar: The Black Panther Party, Self-Defense, and Government Violence
The Satya Interview with David Hilliard
Almost everyone today has heard of the Black Panther Party and is familiar with its premise, the armed struggle for racial equality. “By any means necessary” was indeed the token phrase of the Party, which in founder and leader Huey Newton’s words, was “going to be the personification of Malcolm [X]’s dreams.” Not as widely known, however, is the full story behind the Black Panthers, who were about a lot more than a simple show of force.
The changes they demanded as necessary in order to achieve justice in the U.S. were articulated in their Ten Point Program, which included basic things like decent housing, education, employment, and free healthcare, as well as broader demands such as people’s control of modern technology, the “power to determine the destiny of our black and oppressed communities,” and “an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people, other people of color, all oppressed people inside the U.S.”
The Party was founded on the premise that the history of slavery in this country created a societal framework for racial inequality, which persisted—though illegal—unpunished by the state. This notion, to recognize the need for a response of self-defense proportionate to the dominant culture’s violence against non-whites, emerged alongside other socially significant events of the time—Malcom X’s assassination, the black uprising in Watts, the momentum built by MLK, etc. So, in 1966, Huey Newton and some of his friends, including Bobby Seale and David Hilliard, decided to take on the battle themselves, and established the organization behind the first armed struggle in the civil rights effort.
What started out as a few friends gathering together exploded into a Party with a membership of a couple thousand, as people were drawn to the vision it disseminated. Their motto, “Power to the People!” caught on quick as a standard catchphrase in 1960s America. What Black Panthers managed to achieve included the establishment of positive, solution-oriented social programs—some of which are still in place today—such as the Breakfast for Children program, which fed free, hot, nutritious breakfasts to underprivileged children, and Seniors Against a Fearful Environment (SAFE) to provide senior citizens with free transportation to community banks every month. Other examples: a medical clinic, free community employment services, and cooperative programs for both housing and food.
An end to police brutality was not only one of the primary demands of the Panthers, it was also the fundamental inspiration for the Party’s platform, self-defense against racist violence and oppression, as well as its very title—the panther, by nature, does not initiate attack, but will always attack when threatened.
The Black Panther Party lasted ten years, with a decline it attributes in large part to the battle it fought against the state, having been asserted the number one threat to internal security by the FBI.
To learn more about Black Panther history, its founding members, or to read the Ten Point Program, visit www.blackpanther.org. The Huey P. Newton Reader and the autobiographies of some of the Party’s major players—Bobby Seale, David Hilliard, Angela Davis—are also great resources, and Black Panthers for Beginners by Herb Boyd is a great ‘comic book’-like primer. —R.C.
David Hilliard was a founding member and Chief of Staff of the Black Panther Party (BPP), one of the most prominent social movements to have risen out of the politically charged 1960s. His life, then and now, has been wholeheartedly dedicated to the fight against social injustice, police brutality in particular. He was fiercely loyal to the Party while it lasted, a period of ten years, and has since founded the Huey P. Newton Foundation to preserve the history of the Party and the intellectual legacy of its founder.
In his autobiography, This Side of Glory (Little Brown & Co, 1994), Hilliard documents the creation and history of the Black Panther Party and his own life experiences that led him to become active in social issues in the first place, primarily in the struggle for racial equality. Here, Hilliard discusses with Rachel Cernansky some of the Black Panthers’ story, his thoughts on the tactics they used, and what he thinks of today’s struggles for social justice.
Could you start by describing your history with the Black Panther Party?
I’m one of the founding members. I began my organizing with the Black Panther Party in 1966 here in Oakland, CA. Huey Newton, the leader of our movement, and I were childhood friends. All around us was this social unrest—it was sort of the spirit of the time. So it wasn’t a hard decision, when Huey Newton asked if I would join this new self-defense organization to counter rampant police abuses such as murder and brutality, in our communities. There was the Civil Rights movement, with children being bombed in the church in Birmingham and women being beaten during the freedom marches. Malcolm X was killed in 1965, and I’d witnessed Watts and the burning of the communities in LA, and the rebellions in Newark, NJ. There was a war raging in Vietnam. I was ready to do something and immediately joined with him and Bobby Seale.
How do you define self-defense?
I think it’s pretty easy to define self-defense in connection with preservation of one’s life. Life is very precious. It’s a social contract. We’re guaranteed through the Constitution a right to defend ourselves against unjust, perpetrated violence, and a right to human dignity. Certainly, the self-defense of the victim is not the same as the violence of the oppressor.
We used to make a parallel to people who considered themselves pacifists: If someone broke into your home and began raping your wife and children and you had a gun or a knife, would you just sit there and allow that to happen? We know what the response would be. So we were responding in self-defense to America’s violence: bombings of our people, killing us with impunity, George Wallace saying “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
Looking back, do you think Black Panther tactics were effective and successful means for social change?
I think that we helped promote social change in this country. We did not have the complete and total answer, but our programs are still around. Many have become public policy, like universal healthcare breakfast for children programs—feeding economically disadvantaged children hot nutritious breakfasts our senior transportation programs our demonstrations through colleges and academia to add ethnic studies programs. So absolutely we influenced social change.
The change that was envisioned?
Well, revolution is not a conclusion. It’s not an act, it’s a process. The BPP realized it could not change society itself, it takes the masses of the people, and it’s a long, protracted struggle. Our organization lasted ten years. And it was one of the most assailed. We were the target of the most vicious FBI oppression of political organizations: out of nearly 300 targets of attack, 79 percent were against our movement. We were driven into exile, some 40 are still in prison, 28 of us were murdered—so no, we didn’t change America, but we did our best, we made great sacrifices, more than anybody else in the Civil Rights movement. But struggle is a continuum. We didn’t make the revolution, we promoted the process. By giving our lives.
Is there anything you would do differently?
I think that earlier on there could have been much more emphasis on our [social service] programs, where we didn’t get into confrontation with the police—but only because I’m seeing this in retrospect. It’s not that we had much of a choice. The government was not protecting us, and we were trying to live with some dignity and respect. We were an economic development model, trying to deliver basic services to our people. But that was frustrated by the attacks of the police and U.S. government.
So the government you’d say was the biggest obstacle?
Yes it was. The government is what [led] decisively, directly to the destruction of our BPP. Huey Newton, a Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz, wrote his dissertation on “The FBI’s War Against the Black Panther Party and a Study of Repression in America.” We were totally destroyed by J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon’s armed administration. We were targeted as the #1 threat to the internal security of America. We were painted by design as terrorists, criminals, thugs, and the government effectively neutralized and wiped out our movement. We were no match for the most powerful nation in the world.
The Party attributes that “#1 threat” claim by the FBI to the fact that its ideals and activities were so radical. Would you say those played equally in creating that perceived threat? Or was one more powerful than the other, the ideals or the activities?
Well, when you study the FBI documents, one of the most hated programs was the breakfast for children program. It was assaulted. They would break into our offices and destroy the food to dissuade and turn the support base we had for feeding disadvantaged children. So yes, our ideals I think were what the FBI, the government, hated so much.
On the other hand, we called for full employment for our people. We were able to give free healthcare in NY State—in Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant, Mt. Vernon, the Bronx—when the government was unable to. We showed that there had to be some changes in how the economy and its priorities were delivered—obviously it was not about human services, but more about militarization, police presence, prisons.
Have your beliefs changed regarding what means are and are not effective?
I think we were pretty much on point, in terms of our ideals. And when you look around you see that America is still the most violent government, sponsoring state terror against people around the world—in Iraq, Cuba, Africa, the Middle East. I think that should answer your question. People have a right to do anything they can to ensure another day of life. America is a government that represses people and their most basic needs for their own personal [and] corporate greed. So this whole idea about trying to put the weight on people who defend their lives is a bit naïve. I think that criticism should go towards the government that has made America the most hated country in the world—and the most dangerous, for that matter.
There’s a lot of people who agree with you on that. Let’s shift though to conflicts within American society in particular do you feel it’s more accurate today to describe them as divided along race or along class lines?
Well it’s both. No doubt racism is a big big part of it. We have yet to deal with the issue of race in this country, given the fact that if you examine the economic and housing situations in our communities, if you look at jobs, at the discrimination against people from the Middle East. The issues have not been resolved. If you look at the way Hispanics are treated, at the way women are treated in this country, then you get an idea that America is still a very racist, hierarchical system. But of course the issue also has to do with class. Class and race are synonymous.
I’m curious about your response to a criticism I’m sure you’ve encountered, a notion many individuals have—that certain social injustices, including racial disparity and hate, stem from stereotypes, which the aggressive “by any means necessary” approach would seem to feed. What are your thoughts on this?
I think that question is inane. Again, I think to make the victim the criminal and the criminal the victim is a very warped way of looking at justice. People have to accept that America’s been the most violent country in the world, and anybody responding in a way that gives them another day of life, that is self-defense. The response of the victim [should be] to throw off the bonds of oppression and subjugation in any way they deem necessary. The murder, brutality, imprisonment, the denial of basic education, of basic human rights, unemployment—that is much more violent than somebody defending themselves against some racists. Victims have a right to defend themselves and we should not apologize for that.
It’s just helpful to hear a Panther member’s response to an argument that seems to be recited so often—and often as an excuse to disregard the underlying message.
Well the Party believed in dignity and respect, and most of all in the sanctity of human life. That’s why we had these service programs, doing ‘un-American’ things like giving seniors free medical care, supporting our kids and working with Latinos and Asians. We were the first organization in the 60s and 70s to have an alliance with the gay rights movement. We were a human rights movement. It had nothing to do with race, we were trying to move mankind to a higher manifestation, to make this world a better place.
What was the role of women in the BPP?
Women were not our lesser half, they were not our better half. They were the other half of our movement. They held up 50 percent of the sky. Women were sent to prison, women were attacked. They had no more rights than black men did under this system of oppression and racial subjugation. We were all in the same struggle and still are. Black men are not free until black women are free, and vice versa.
People brought sexist attitudes from the larger society into our movement, and we tried to deal with that. Our BPP was the only civil rights organization at the time where women were actually in leadership. Audrea Jones founded our chapter in Boston Frances Carter founded our movement in Bridgeport and New Haven Ericka Huggins was the leader of our movement in LA along with Elaine Brown, who became the foremost leader of our movement in America.
Where are we now—what are the major issues to be addressed today?
We’re in pretty much the same place we were 40 years ago. We’re involved in a war, Bush’s personal war, where our young men and women are losing their lives on a daily basis. Our communities in many cases are overwrought with homelessness. The schools are a total dismal failure. The prisons are bursting at the seams with African Americans and other minorities.
There’s a lot of work to be done, and the issues we addressed in our heyday are still at the forefront of struggle so in a lot of ways they are the same issues we were always fighting for. People defending animal rights, environmental issues, wild salmon vs. farm-raised salmon, the right to have food on the planet, those were issues that were going on in the 70s.
Do you see connections between all of those issues?
Absolutely. It’s a continuum. There’s a generation [now] that does not know this history because it’s obscured in a lot of ways. But given the technological advantages that we have now, with the Internet and all of the massive access to information, there’s just no reason people should not know about these struggles. And I think that is the forefront of this generation’s struggle: to begin to control the means of technology. Technology belongs to the people and should be used to raise everybody to a higher manifestation of living and a decent life—not for the benefit of a few multinational corporations. I think we’re on the right track to arriving at what Huey Newton called a ‘revolutionary intercommunalism,’ within [which] the whole world will belong to the people. And we’ll have a culture that’s essentially human.
You mentioned animal rights. Was that ever a part of the BPP agenda?
Well our agenda was to understand the sanctity of life, for all sentient beings. Everything is interconnected and the death of any man, woman, thing, diminishes us all. Huey Newton was a Buddhist he taught us about Taoism and Buddhism and the principles of the Samurai warriors, and we lived by some of the Eastern philosophies of Krishnamurti. Vegetarianism was a big thing in our BPP. Our school was vegetarian [and the] children were on a vegetarian diet.
Do you see any movement that’s making progress today?
Yes, I’m impressed with the animal rights movement and with people fighting for environmentalism. I’m impressed with the sustainable economy movement and the young people who were in Seattle, and who opposed Bush’s war and multinational corporations in Mexico most recently. I’m involved with and support the anti-war movement. I support the gay rights movement. I try to stay abreast of what the issues are.
What do you see as the role of young people today?
The role of young people is to take control of their own destiny and get rid of these old, greedy, selfish, anti-human politicians and administrators who want to own all the resources of the world for their own personal aggrandizement. It’s their role to make the world a better place for people in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia. Because the world belongs to the people, and we need to understand that places distant are part of the world community. We should be involved in all the struggles of the world, because the world’s resources belong to all of us.
It’s this generation’s charge to be about the business of joining with the world and having one struggle, a commonality of economics. Then we will all live at a higher manifestation [and] all of our basic needs would be taken care of.
What are your thoughts on what role violence—or specifically, self-defense—can or should play in that struggle?
I think the survival of the species should be our number one priority. We are the peacemakers. We want an end to all war, we want an abolition to the violence of man against man, and the only way to do that I think is to wage revolutionary war—to confront unjust violence with the just violence of salvation so that we all survive. Put down the disturbers of the peace, and in order to do that, one has to sometimes counter unjust violence with revolutionary violence.
What advice would you have for people who want to see that happen?
I think people should just prepare themselves and study history. They should be very aware that when you try to take control of your lives and change [this] system, you’re going to meet resistance.
Are you hopeful for the future?
I’m an eternal optimist, yes. I must be. It’s what motivates me. And I see great things happening—with youth and people all around the world, gloriously fighting. And we are part of that struggle because the death of any man or woman diminishes us all because we’re all connected. It’s not like what happens in Africa or in the Middle East is not our concern—of course it’s our concern.
And I’m trying to make my commitment I haven’t given up the fight.
Birth of a Panther
David Hilliard was born on May 15, 1942, in Rockville, Alabama. When he was ten, he moved with his family to Oakland, California. There he met the already charismatic young Huey Newton, a natural leader and intellectual who would later become his comrade in the Black Panthers. As a teenager, Hilliard sought a type of manhood he thought he could not find at school. At 17 he dropped out to marry his pregnant girlfriend, Patricia. At 19 he was the father of three children, Patrice, Darryl, and Dorion. By
At a Glance …
Born May 15, 1942, in Rockville, AL son of Lee and Lela Hilliard married Palricia Milliard, c. 1959 children: Patrice, Darryl. Dorion jlso Dassine (by Brenda Presley).
Held a variety of odd jobs, 1960-66 Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, 1967-74. positions included captain of national headquarters and chief of staff. Jailed for his role in 1968 shootout, 1971-74. Employed by public improvement associations and unions, c. 1975 — 89, including Campaign for Economic Democracy, Los Angeles. United Public Employees Union, Local 790, Oakland, representative, 1991 — . Author, with Lewis Cole, of This Side of Glory. Little, Brown, 1993.
Addresses: c/o Little, Brown & Co., 34 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108.
the age of 20, he had come into contact with the Black Muslims and adopted that sect ’ s rhetoric, if not its clean-living ways. To make ends meet, he worked a variety of menial jobs.
When riots erupted in the black communities of Los Angeles and Cleveland in 1966, Hilliard became radicalized. In the spring of 1967 he agreed to join his childhood friend Huey Newton, who had just helped to found the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The Panthers began to drive around Oakland with loaded guns and law books trying to prevent police harassment of black citizens. These Panther patrols were not illegal — California allowed citizens to carry unconcealed loaded guns — but they did lead to tense confrontations, and they brought a media spotlight to the group.
Hilliard worked for the party at night and on the docks during the day. He attended political education sessions and worked hard to understand revolutionary books like Frantz Fanon ’ s Wretched of the Earth. He came into contact with Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, and other leading Panthers. But though he worked almost full time for the party and had been named captain of its national headquarters, Hilliard recalled in his autobiography that he did not feel like a true insider until October 28, 1967. That day, Newton was injured and an Oakland policeman was killed in a violent confrontation. When Newton was charged with murder, the remaining Panther leadership assigned Hilliard the work of getting Newton out of jail.
With this assignment, Hilliard finally sensed that his life had a purpose. “ The problems of my life — my restlessness, my sense of purposelessness — are resolved, ” he wrote in This Side of Glory. “ I ’ m dedicated to a serious, deadly serious goal. I think of my daily responsibilities, and one by one they drift away they ’ re unimportant now in the face of this new greater duty. … Even the [material] things that once seemed so crucial to me … become trivial, burdens rather than satisfactions. ”
Working under Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale, Hilliard devoted himself to freeing Newton. He helped make “ Free Huey ” a national slogan, and his campaign for Newton ’ s release dramatically increased the Panthers ’ visibility. In fact, the “ Free Huey ” campaign became an incredible boon for the party. New recruits and donations poured in, chapters formed in other cities, and Cleaver and Seale forged alliances with Bay Area radicals and with the national Communist Party.
As the Black Panther Party grew, so did Hilliard ’ s responsibilities. He worked on the party ’ s newspaper, The Black Panther. He struggled to grasp revolutionary philosophy. He dealt with members who got dangerously out of hand and he spoke to the media and at protests.
Interview with H. David Hilliard, June 14, 1985
H. David Hilliard was born in Clinton, Kentucky in 1916. He attended the high school at what later became Hickman County High School. On the family farm, his parents raised hogs and chickens. Hilliard recalls that brother once completed a 2-acre cotton project for the 4-H Club. During the Depression in 1934, Hilliard managed to get a job with the National Youth Administration (NYA) in Murray, Kentucky custom hay baling on a farm for two summers. Later, Hilliard could not get the job back, so he hitchhiked to Lexington, Kentucky and enrolled at the University of Kentucky, where he graduated in 1938. He taught vocational agriculture for five years in London, Kentucky, while completing graduate work in agricultural education during the summer.
Hilliard stresses the importance of the instruction and assistance he received from UK's College of Agriculture, the Agricultural Experiment Station, and Extension Services throughout his career. He has worked on the 1300 acre family farm in Hickman County since 1943. Hilliard describes the livestock and crop programs on the farm, and discusses his participation in the certified seed program, where he grew Kentucky 31 fescue and hybrid seed corn with registered seed. He mentions many people he worked with in these programs, such as Shirley Phillips, Dr. Oran Little, and Dr. W. D. Valleau. Hilliard discusses his work as President of the Kentucky Seed Improvement Association in 1967 and between 1971 and 1975. He explains his work with the Farm Analysis Group, and states that he was President of the Production Credit Administration. He also served on the Extension Advisory Committee. Hilliard discusses his satisfying and dissatisfying experiences, and talks about his family. The interviewer lists the many organizations Hilliard has served as well as his many awards, including the Thomas Poe Cooper award.
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Walking Through History with David Hilliard, Former Black Panther Party Leader
To cap off our summer fellowship program, the Haas Institute planned a field trip that would deepen our appreciation and understanding of the struggle for social justice in the Bay Area. Former Black Panther Party Chief of Staff David Hilliard led a guided tour of the former homes, events and places that were significant to the history and formation of the Black Panther Party in Oakland.
Before the tour began, the Haas Institute’s staff and summer fellows met at Homeroom for lunch, where our plates overflowed with mac n’ cheese.
After lunch, we met Mr. Hilliard in front of the West Oakland Library, where he began our guided tour. In our 18-point tour, we visited the homes of the party founders, the location of the party’s office, the Church where the Party served free breakfast for community youth, and the traffic signal that was installed as a result of the Party’s agitation. The Party’s efforts put Oakland squarely in the center of efforts to promote racial equality in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
His first-hand account described the systematic racism against Oakland’s black communities that was especially prevalent within the police department and other government institutions. His political identity was clearly developed by the realities of discrimination, police brutality, and injustice that were common in the highly segregated neighborhoods of West and East Oakland. Those community needs served as the impetus for the Party’s formation, and shaped the personalities and struggles that allowed for the Party’s efforts and successes in Oakland.
His story was inspiring yet filled with a melancholy nostalgia for a time of mobilization and unity that is difficult to find in Oakland’s streets today. His criticisms of kids idolizing the likes of Jay-Z and Kanye instead of politically conscious figures points to the gaps in our broken education system and fixation on making money to solve our individual problems. Mr. Hilliard’s experiences underscored this nation’s challenged history with race, which continues today, as the segregated and red-lined neighborhoods that shaped the experience of Oakland’s African American community are now gentrifying, displacing families to more remote areas of the Bay Area, and the jobs that secured the economic vitality of West Oakland’s African-American middleclass have gradually disappeared.
The tour re-opened a chapter in our local history that should be required knowledge to any resident of the Bay Area, and more than this, should be celebrated as some of the greatest moments of collective action and success that took place right in our backyard.
The ideas expressed on the Haas Institute blog are not necessarily those of UC Berkeley or the Division of Equity & Inclusion, where the Haas Institute website is hosted. They are not official and not of one mind. Thoughts here are those of individual authors. We are committed to academic freedom, free speech and civil liberties.
David Hilliard - History
''David Hilliard has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Illinois in 2020, his eleventh year to be so honored.''
''David Hilliard is highly respected for his extensive experience in the IP market. He is noted for advising a wide range of multinational clients on complex litigation and arbitration matters.''
''David Hilliard is often called on as a witness, such is the depth of his knowledge and litigation experience. He writes extensively on the law and takes to the podium as a lecturer to share his knowledge.''
World Trademark Review (WTR) 1000-2019
David’s clients come to him looking for a lawyer who can provide sound, cost-effective advice, but who also can orchestrate a month-long trial, provide credibility and insight as an expert witness, or bring stubborn parties to a settlement as a mediator. David’s intellectual property cases have resulted in over 100 Federal Court opinions throughout the United States, including nine jury trials, and he has argued appeals in all but one of the U.S. Courts of Appeal.
Intellectual Property Litigation One of WTR 1000’s two Illinois “Luminaries” and a Chambers “Senior Statesmen,” David brings value through his wide experience as a trial lawyer in Intellectual Property matters of every description. He protects iconic brands like FORD, PEPSI, GENERAL MOTORS, JAGUAR, BASF, CHRYSLER, H&R BLOCK, NORTHERN TRUST, SUNLIFE OF CANADA and TIGER WOODS.
David is listed in The BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA, has been recognized by The Legal 500 for his “longstanding track record of trial and appellate level matters” and by WTR 1000 as a respected expert witness. He is a Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers and past Chair of the College’s Courageous Advocacy Committee.
David’s litigation highlights include:
- For Sun Life of Canada, establishing the principles of “doctrinal moorings” and “inevitable confusion” in U.S. District and Appellate Court trademark cases and introducing the first “mystery shopper” survey as an innovative means of assuring survey trustworthiness.
- For PepsiCo, launching more than seventy gray market goods cases that resulted in Federal Court opinions that helped define the standards for protection against gray market imports, and violations of the Tariff Act.
- As lead counsel for Ford Motor Company, winning major copyright cases in Asia, South America and the U.S. that shut down over fifty counterfeiters of Ford parts and helped establish many of the legal bases for anti-counterfeiting protection.
- For Jaguar Motor Cars, closing down seventy-two infringers and stopping the Jacksonville Jaguars football team from using a leaping jaguar logo. See “How David C. Hilliard Got the Jacksonville Jaguars to Change Their Logo,” Illinois Super Lawyers Magazine.
- In Northern Trust Co. v. J. P. Morgan Chase, David prevailed over repeated intentional copying of a major Northern Trust Brand in the NFL Superbowl.
Expert Witness in Intellectual Property Cases
David often serves as an expert witness in major litigation for clients like TRAVELERS INSURANCE, CHRYSLER, HOOVER, BLUE SHIELD OF CALIFORNIA, KIMBERLY-CLARK and 3M. He served successfully as an expert for the INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE in a $425 million case involving evaluation of assets of the Carnation Company.
His credibility and insight as an expert witness benefit from his teaching for many years at Northwestern Pritzker University School of Law and at the University of Chicago Law School. He also benefits from extensive experience as a writer in the field of intellectual property law. His publications include:
- A treatise, Hilliard, Welch & Marvel, TRADEMARKS AND UNFAIR COMPETITION (Lexis Nexis, 9th ed., 2019), which has been cited and quoted by federal courts, and has been used by the Federal Judiciary to train federal judges in intellectual property law.
- A law school text book, Hilliard, Welch & Widmaier, TRADEMARKS AND UNFAIR COMPETITION (Carolina Academic Press 12th ed., 2019), was cited and quoted by the United States Supreme Court (Moseley v. Victoria’s Secret), and is used in over fifty law school courses nationally.
As an expert witness, David has often raised constitutional and other dispositive issues that have resulted in settlements resolving multi-million dollar litigation. David has recently been an expert witness in six major intellectual property cases:
- a Reverse Confusion case in Utah in which defendant swamped plaintiff by using plaintiff’s name and mark on defendant’s website dramatically decreased plaintiff’s business by 93.5%
- a multi-million dollar insurance defense case in the state of Washington where he discovered that plaintiff’s claims violated the public welfare clause of the Utah Code of Ethics for Engineers as well as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution pursuant to U.S. v. Alvarez, 132 S.Ct. 2537 and the Utah Supreme Court in Eldridge v. Johndrow, 345 P.3d 553
- a New York case where he launched an innovative “market survey” and established that plaintiffs’ claims violated Article I of the U.S. Constitution pursuant to Bonito Boats, 489 U.S. 141 and Dastar 539 U.S. 23
- a Michigan case where plaintiffs’ claims also violated Article I of the U.S. Constitution as well as the doctrine of fair use (recently, $8.4 million was awarded after a nine day jury trial in Los Angeles in a parallel case in which defendant failed to raise David’s Article 1 Constitutional defense)
- a genericness case in Minnesota where David demonstrated on partial summary judgment that plaintiffs’ claimed trademark was introduced as a generic term and used exclusively that way for seven years. Further, David’s surveys and historic analysis demonstrated to the court that no initially generic term has ever been “recaptured” as a trademark in the history of U.S. law
- trial testimony in a case in the U.S. District Court in Hawaii involving application of the USPTO rules for Supplemental Registrations and the U.S. Constitutional requirements for Use In Commerce.
Mediator and Arbitrator in Intellectual Property Cases
David has handled dozens of mediations and arbitrations nationwide, and is a Federal Court and CPR/INTA-certified mediator and arbitrator. Here is how he describes his approach:
“An expert decision-maker lets the parties focus on the nuances of their particular dispute, and get a result comparable to an appellate decision that might take years, and cost millions of dollars to reach.”
His role as an adjunct professor and author of both a well respected treatise and law school text book also helps here, but the life-lessons from serving the profession and community (noted below) may be more so.
One of his most challenging mediations was in the $750 million Terra Museum conflict with the State of Illinois. It generated coverage in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. See The Art of Mediation: The Terra Museum War, ABA Landslide Magazine.
Service to the Profession and Community David’s civic and professional leadership have strengthened his effectiveness as a lawyer, expert and mediator. In recent years, David received:
- the Justice John Paul Stevens Award for “extraordinary integrity and service to the community throughout his career”
- the Lawyers for the Creative Arts “Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts”
- an American College of Trial Lawyers Award for “Representing the College in litigation with Honor and Distinction” and
- in October 2020 David completed three years as Chairman of the Newberry Library Board of Trustees, one of America’s leading institutions for research and scholarship in the humanities.
He is past President of the Chicago Bar Association, and currently Chair of its Past Presidents Committee. He has served as President of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, the Legal Club, and the Wayfarers Club, and was a founding member of the Illinois Commission on the Rights of Women. He is a past Chair of the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School, and served as a Judge Advocate in the United States Navy under Admiral John S. McCain.
David is currently a Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, a former Vice-Chair of the Art Institute and Chair of the School of the Art Institute, and was awarded the Institute’s Architecture and Design Society “Lifetime Achievement Award.” David is President of the Rettinger Foundation and Director of the Allerton Endowment Fund.
David has served as a Director of the International Trademark Association, a member of Council of the ABA Intellectual Property Law Section, and Chair of the Northwestern Law School Annual Symposium on “Intellectual Property Law and the Corporate Client.”
He was the founding Chair of the 9,000 member Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association for which the Association established the David C. Hilliard Award given annually to the outstanding Section Committee Chair. See “A Cause for Celebration.” David was recently named an “Honorary Young Lawyer in Perpetuity” (!), and last year was honored by the Chicago Bar Association for “Leading the Way.”
David was profiled in a four-page article in Chicago Lawyer Magazine, see “Collecting to Give,” and was honored last year by The University of Chicago Law School in an article entitled “Big Picture Litigator Takes Pride in Being Civic and Professional Leader.”
‘The Man I Am, the Man I’m Not, the Man I Want To Be’
At first, our choices are easy: whether to sit or stand, run stutter-step through the afternoon light or rest sweetly in our mother’s lap. As we age, we enter the twilight of limitless possibility. Despite our best intentions, we accept that there are fewer possible selves.
But what unforeseen joy or hardship might have been? What future remains? These are the questions David Hilliard wrestles with in his newest book, “What Could Be,” a compendium of emotionally charged and verdant compositions.
“The photographs are visual possibilities of what could be, what might have been, what I𠆝 like to be,” Mr. Hilliard said.
Having grown up part of a progressive working-class family in Lowell, Mass., Mr. Hilliard found his footing as a gay young man early. He was intrigued by ideas of masculinity, identity and relationships and quickly turned to that in his work. “There’s a lot of photographs about men, myself, strangers, the man I am, the man I’m not, the man I want to be, the man I want but can’t have,” Mr. Hilliard said.
During his formative years as an undergraduate at Massachusetts College of Art, he studied under luminaries like Abelardo Morell, Nick Nixon and Barbara Bosworth, all of whom inspired him to explore his personal life — and his sensitive side — in his work. During class with Ms. Bosworth, students were encouraged to cry as she read poetry aloud. While there, he began documenting his relationship with his father.
Images of Mr. Hilliard’s father, whom he describes as a 𠇌omplete leftie atheist,” portray a complex figure grappling with mortality and the unknown. In contrast, his mother is a born-again, evangelical Christian. Images of her and her new husband, which feature in Mr. Hilliard’s later work, are hermetic, portraying the two of them flirting with some platonic ideal.
While getting his M.F.A. at Yale, Gregory Crewdson, Tod Papageorge and others pushed him to continue working in this vein, and it was there that Mr. Hilliard honed the lush, multipanel images that would become his signature. Meant to evoke a cinematic experience by 𠇌reating runs of pictures that lived as a hybrid between photography and film,” Mr. Hilliard’s tableaux use the mechanics of his view camera to shift time, focus and viewing planes into sometimes jarring, yet strangely gratifying, combinations.
pending on what the psychological moment is or how I feel about something, I want a lot of shifting,” he said. 𠇋oom, in your face. Boom, suddenly I’m back.”
Among his awards, he received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2001, and in 2005 Aperture published an eponymous monograph that is now in its second printing. His expansive body of work has largely explored those close to him. Though he occasionally works with models, he prefers the intimacy of friends and family.
“There’s that kind of personal connection — they look at you, mediated through the lens, and there’s a shared understanding of a history,” he said. 𠇊 stranger — it’s exotic, it’s hunting, it’s like pinning a butterfly to a wall.”
“What Could Be” navigates a now-familiar tension for Mr. Hilliard, juxtaposing intensely personal moments of his family with images of strangers and friends of friends charged with sexual and emotional longing. Drawing on decades of work, the book constructs a semiautobiographical narrative grappling with his own and others’ expectations for him. It will feature a Q&A with the writer Pam Houston, and a short story by the New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy.
The book deal came with a catch. The publisher, Minor Matters Books, has brought a Kickstarter model to art publishing, and artists must persuade some 500 people to prepurchase the book by April 30. If the goal of 500 presale books is not met, then no book is made. (He is currently at 218.)
In the meantime, Mr. Hilliard said he had given himself the green light to pursue a new challenge: a project full of strangers.
Black History Everyday 24/7/365: 10 Things I Learned About David Hilliard: #BlackPanthersAt50
3. He formed the Huey P. Newton Foundation with Newton’s second wife.
4. He served time in Vacaville Prison.
5. He was visiting professor at the University of New Mexico.
6. He was interim chair of the BPP after Huey Newton was arrested.
7. He was arrested for threatening President Nixon’s life, he was acquitted when the government refused to release the tapes.
8. He starred in the following movies: Berkeley in the Sixties, Tupac Shakur, Thug Angel, Rebels of Oakland the A’s, the Raiders, the 70s, and The Assassination of Richard Nixon.
9. On April 6, 1968, two days after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, Hilliard and seven other BPP members were ambushed by the police while in their vehicles.
10. In 1994, This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hiliard and the Story of the Black Panthers was published.
Summer of Love: 40 Years Later / David Hilliard
5 of 6 December 28, 1969 - David Hilliard, chief of staff of the Black Panthers, tells interviewers that his statement "We should kill President Nixon" was meant rhetorically, not literally. Hilliard was charged with advocating the President's assassination after his statement at a San Francisco peace rally November 15. He was interviewed on CBS' "Face The Nation," broadcast from Washington. Associated Press/ 1969 Associated Press Show More Show Less
DAVID HILLIARD, visiting professor at the University of New Mexico: THEN: Chief of staff for the Black Panther Party, Hilliard was a young black militant, roaming the streets of Oakland with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale during the Summer of Love.
It's certainly a defining period for me because April '67 was just one month prior to the epic-making event with the Black Panther Party where we sent a delegation of Black Panthers to Sacramento protesting the gun laws, which is that scene indelibly printed in everyone's mind. It's what most people recognize the Black Panthers for -- armed delegations with Bobby Seale, 27 Panthers invading the state capitol. I was very much involved with Huey Newton in '67 in trying to give definition to that educational demonstration of the Black Panther Party going to Sacramento to protest, we used to say, the disarmament of the black community, not just the Black Panther Party, but it was an act against disarming black people, period. So Huey Newton and I were there, going to radio stations. I remember a radio station, KNEW, down at Jack London Square, where we were explaining the reasons for sending that delegation of Black Panther party members to Sacramento. So it was certainly a defining moment in my life - it's when I became a full-fledged member of the Black Panther Party.
I was married and had three children. Trying to figure it all out. Working as a longshoreman in the docks of Oakland and San Francisco. Watching the anti-war movement that was pretty much in gear during that time. Talking with Huey Newton, who used to come by regularly telling me about trying to politicize me. I used to let him and Bobby Seale use my car to go deliver Panther Party papers, because during that time, there was only a few members of the Black Panther Party and we were not very mobile. I had a job, I was a Longshoreman. So I would let them use the car while I go work during the day. Those were the nascent, early formative stages of our movement. But Oakland was alive with people in the streets. Anti-draft movement was going on then. Lots of demonstrations, stuff going on pretty consistently at UC Berkeley. It was a very vibrant time. There was hope and promise in the air. There was these expectations that things were going to happen in the world and I certainly wanted to be a part of that.
It was this counter-culture movement. You're talking Timothy Leary, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, people like that, Baba Ram Dass. People who were beginning to make history. People who chose life over death. People who opposed the unjust war being waged in Southeast Asia, particularly the war in Vietnam. There was a time where there was a unity of ideas and action between our Black Panther Party and those counter-culture hippies like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Emmett Grogan over in San Francisco with the Diggers. Those were our comrades. We were brought together. Because we all had a unity of thought and ideas against this unjust war. They were, as far as we were concerned, our comrades. They were in a lot of ways involved in cultural revolution. We were involved in more sterner stuff. Coming out of the civil rights era where people were being beaten and children being killed in the South in church, brings to mind 15th Street church in Birmingham, people being beaten on the Peddis Bridge. So it was a very vibrant and a very tumultuous period. The counter-culture who opposed the war, the hippies, they were our comrades. We all chose life over death. We all embraced a common humanity. I think it was the common strand that brought us together.