university of pittsburgh library system

The Black Panther Breakfast Programs

Every spring semester the University Library System (ULS), in collaboration with Pitt’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), award ten students with the Archival Scholars Research Award (ASRA). This semester, seven of those students are working in Special Collections. Each month, we ask the scholars to submit blog posts demonstrating the discoveries they are making. Enjoy! 

The cover of the 4/27/1969 publication of The Black Panther

The activism of the Black Panther Party (BPP) is commonly viewed as innately violent and antagonistic, but they had a number of social programs and fundraisers that were aimed at uplifting the most vulnerable of their community. One of their most popular programs served breakfast to children before school, many of whom would have otherwise gone without food due to social or economic factors. The BPP were staunch believers in education as a necessary component of liberation, and ensuring that the children were able to focus and engage in their studies was of critical importance.

Photographs taken at one of the breakfast programs, as included in the 4/27/1969 edition of The Black Panther.

The Black Panther newspapers often mention these breakfast programs, noting how many were served or who was responsible for the food preparation, and occasionally publicizing that one had been subject to a police raid. They were events that allowed the community to unify for a singular purpose, and though peaceful and meaningful, local police departments often stormed the buildings that hosted the programs in an attempt to find something incriminating.

-Maureen Jones, Archival Scholars Research Awardee ‘17