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a black panther in Tanzania

29 January 2012

I’m not writing about the kind you’d see on safari:

Pete and Charlotte O'Neal

Exile was supposed to be temporary. O’Neal corresponded with other Panthers and planned to return home to help lead the revolution. He watched from abroad as the party collapsed from infighting, arrests and an FBI campaign of surveillance and sabotage. People stopped talking about revolution. Radicals found new lives.

O’Neal’s exile became permanent. His fury abated. Some of it was age. Some of it was Tanzania, where strangers always materialized to push your Land Rover out of the mud, and where conflicts were resolved in community meetings in which everyone got to speak, interminably.

“It is so laid back, so reasonable, that to be otherwise makes you look, even to yourself, like a damn fool,” O’Neal says.

That is from “Former Black Panther patches together purpose in African exile,” in today’s Los Angeles Times.

HT Alondra Nelson, whose book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination just came out in October.

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