Wednesday, March 15, 2023
12:30 – 2:30 pm, PST
Osher Theater, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, UC Berkeley (2155 Center Street, Berkeley, CA 94720)
Photo credit: Donald Cunningham
Recently discovered were 4,000 never-before-seen images documenting the later years of the Black Panther Party (BPP), focusing on the party’s community programs in Oakland. This event will provide the first public look at this extraordinary photo archive and pull back the curtain on the BPP’s flagship educational achievement: The Oakland Community School (OCS). Join BSC Archivist in Residence Fellow Lisbet Tellefsen, Angela LeBlanc-Ernest, Ericka Huggins, Gregory B. Lewis, and Erica Watkins for the first public look at an archive of Black Panther Party photos from the OCS.
Lisbet Tellefsen, Abolition Democracy Archivist in Residence Fellow, Black Studies Collaboratory, Department of African American Studies, UC Berkeley
Lisbet Tellefsen (she/her), is an Oakland, California based community archivist, curator, producer, and publisher who has been documenting and creating culture in the Bay Area’s black, queer, and women’s communities for the past 4 decades. As the publisher/co-founder of Aché: a Black Lesbian Journal, which served as a nexus for black queer organizing in the late 80’s/early 90s, she was an active participant during the renaissance that saw an explosion in black queer cultural production internationally. A prolific event producer, her production credits range from drag king shows to film series’, Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride: the East Bay pride march and festival that ran for 10 years in Oakland, to “Sister Comrade,” an historic tribute honoring two of her personal mentors, poets Audre Lorde and Pat Parker.
Her current work focuses on documenting movement history and preserving community memory. Tellefsen’s extensive archives and collections are used frequently for exhibitions, research, and media projects. As an archival consultant she has worked on numerous film projects including the documentaries Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Free Angela and All Political Prisoners. As a curator her most recent exhibitions include “The Black Panther Party: 1966-1982” at the West Oakland Mural Project, “Angela Davis OUTspoken,” and “From Feminists to Feministas” at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) History Museum in San Francisco. An exhibition, “Angela Davis: Seize the Time,” inspired by the Tellefsen Collection and featuring over 200 pieces from her archive, opened at the Zimmerli Art Museum in September 2022 at Rutgers in New Jersey and is currently on view at the Oakland Museum of California.
Angela LeBlanc-Ernest, Moderator and Director of The Oakland Community School Project
Angela D. LeBlanc-Ernest is an independent scholar, documentarian, multi-media content creator, oral historian, and community archivist whose projects focus on 20th-century social movement history, gender, education, and culture. She graduated from Harvard University and Stanford University and has spent more than 30 years engaged in projects that combine oral history collection with academic research. She has spent her career bridging the divide between academic institutions and communities by developing and participating in projects that have public history components and involve narrators themselves in the process, presenting her work in academic conferences, K-12 institutions, U.S. universities, and community spaces such as New York’s Schomburg Library Conversations in Black Freedom Studies, the University of Chicago’s Logan Museum, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Her writings have appeared in peer-reviewed books, journals, and public facing publications such as Vibe Magazine, Colorlines, Souls, Ms. Magazine, and Black Youth Project. Her work on the Oakland Community School began in the early 1990s while working on her undergraduate thesis on women in the Black Panther Party, evolved to include a co-authored book chapter with ericka huggins, and became the primary focus of her current research project. In 2017, Angela began the Oakland Community School Documentary Project to collect oral histories, documents, and media that tell the history of OCS. In 2020, she formed The OCS Project LLC, the umbrella business that houses the various components of her work on the Oakland Community School, including her community partnership with the UC Irvine Humanities Center: the Black Panther Oakland Community School: Community Archives, Activism, and Storytelling Research Cluster, which was founded in February 2021. Angela is the recipient of a 2022-2023 Oral History Association and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her OCS oral history project work.
Erica Watkins, Student of The Oakland Community School
Erica Watkins was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. After attending public and private elementary schools, Erica attended the Black Panther Party’s Oakland Community School located in Oakland, CA. After graduating from high school, Erica earned an Associate’s degree from the College of Alameda and a Bachelor’s degree from California State University at Hayward. She later earned a Master’s degree from Howard University with a focus on the African Diaspora and early African American History. During her tenure at Howard, Erica’s professors encouraged her to treat the topic of the Black Panther Party. As a result, she focused on the influence of the BPP on many organizations. The title of her Master’s thesis is a quote from Dr. Huey P. Newton, “They Really Haven’t Done Anything by Crushing One Organization”: The Legacy of the Black Panther Party, 1989 – 1998. Erica has worked as a Museum Curator at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, as a Black History consultant for several museums and agencies, and as a lecturer for several events. Erica is a mom and works in management for a local government agency. She likes to create things with her hands in her spare time, such as jewelry and upcycled items. Inspired by Ilyasah Shabazz’s, Growing Up X: A Memoir by the Daughter of Malcolm X, Erica is writing a book about her experiences attending the Oakland Community School.
Ericka Huggins, Director of The Oakland Community School
Ericka Huggins is an educator, Black Panther Party member, former political prisoner, human rights advocate, and poet. For 50 years, Ericka has used her life experiences in service to community. From 1973-1981, she was director of the Black Panther Party’s Oakland Community School. From 1990-2004 Ericka managed HIV/AIDS Volunteer and Education programs. She also supported innovative mindfulness programs for women and youth in schools, jails and prisons. Ericka was professor of Sociology and African American Studies from 2008 through 2015 in the Peralta Community College District. From 2003 to 2011 she was professor of Women and Gender Studies at California State Universities- East Bay and San Francisco. Ericka is a Racial Equity Learning Lab facilitator for WORLD TRUST Educational Services. She curates conversations focused on the individual and collective work of becoming equitable in all areas of our daily lives. Additionally, she facilitates workshops on the benefit of self care in sustaining social change. She is co-author, with Stephen Shames, of the book, Comrade Sisters-Women of the Black Panther Party, published in 2022.
Gregory B. Lewis, Student of The Oakland Community School
Gregory B. Lewis is an Oakland, California, native and the son of two former “rank and file” members of the Black Panther Party (BPP). Mr. Lewis was one of a small class of original students at the Oakland Community School (OCS) from its inception in the 1970s.
Gregory holds a B.A. in Black Studies and Cinema Studies from San Francisco State University, and J.D. from New College of California School of Law. He has worked as a legal advocate, mentor, coach, adjunct instructor and is a freelance writer. He is currently working on a memoir, Power to the Children: Writing from the Life of a Panther Cub.
Gregory is an avid world traveler, having traveled from Bahia, Brazil, Portugal, to Spain and North Africa, where he has shared his Panther story with a wide range of artists, educators and world travelers. Gregory is the proud father of three grown children and has been known to play the guitar and sing his special brand of blues and funk for family and friends.
This event is free and open to the public. The venue is wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation will be provided. If you need accommodations to fully participate, please contact Barbara Montano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-664-4324 with as much advance notice as possible. Please refrain from wearing any scented products, including essential oils.