Former Member of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party
My friendship with Chip began when we were in our teens, and enthusiastic about our new sense of the world. Both of us having been confined in some of the worst reform schools in California, we ended up together in Tracy, an adult prison where so-called unfit youth were also incarcerated. It was an amazing period in which, for the first time, we were reading books, magazines, journals, learning about the social justice movement. Our new way of thinking was primarily the result of how deeply the Movement influenced and penetrated the fabric of society.
We came to represent an important departure from the previous generation of black youth of a similar background, who had made different choices, many of whom had fallen down an abysmal gutter into a cesspool of no escape. We, on the other hand, had become products of the Movement, a movement that was more powerful than any drug, and guaranteed to hook you. Overnight, it seemed, we had become aware of its vast new terrain. The Movement would plaster a smile on your face, straighten you up in an erect fashion, tighten your gut and propel you into the future. That was how we felt.