At Home with a Panther in Africa – Pete O’Neal an exiled Black Panther
Were you around in the 60-70s? It was a time of great turmoil in so many ways. With segregation at it’s peak, and integration not in great demand in many states around the country, Blacks were gaining but still protesting for more freedom in the United States. It was difficult and resulted in many arrests, many unwarranted and highly publicized. Here is an interesting write-up about a member of the Black Panthers, Pete O’Neal, who was part of that movement. This is now, that time period was then. THIS IS DESTINED TO TRAVEL’S OPERATION BACKPACK COMMUNITY SUPPORT PROGRAM IN TANZANIA.
When I saw the movie ‘A Panther in Africa’ advertised, which took place in Tanzania, I knew I had to watch it. I had no idea what it was about, but Africa, Tanzania in particular, my passion, drew me to watching it. As a travel agent who consistently escorts groups on safari in Africa, much of that being Tanzania, I’m always ready to increase my knowledge of the area and learn about what is happening there and how it equates to here – in the USA.
So in 2009, I watched it. It was a documentary about Pete O’Neal, a former leader of the Kansas City Chapter of the Black Panthers back in the 60’s and his exile to Tanzania. I happen to remember that era, so it was of particular interest to me. Pete was located in Tanzania, but I didn’t know where. I had to make it my mission to find out where he was in Tanzania and make it a point to go see him.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
In early 2012, an article was published on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, about Pete, his trials and tribulations, his purpose that he is now dedicated to since he has been exiled in Tanzania. That was what led me to him. Through several emails and comments on that article, I was led to Charlotte O’Neal, his wife, whom I connected with on Facebook. From there, we communicated and I told her I was heading out to Tanzania the following month and I’d like to come by and see her and Pete. Since that time, I have been there many times, taken many groups and continue to go and support their school, the Leaders of Tomorrow Children’s Home.
LOOKING BACK TO THE 60’S
During the 60’s, there was significant political upheaval, racial turmoil in areas around the USA. The Black Panthers happened to be in the midst of that turmoil. They were doing some wonderful things and are responsible for starting the Free Breakfast for Children program in many areas, but also were profiled for violence throughout many communities. In a period of much racial profiling, and discrimination, they were often blamed for community disruption and unrest, often blamed inappropriately, though there were some appropriate arrests as well. Right or wrong, they were headliners in the news more often than not, mostly negatively highlighted.
Pete was arrested in 1969 and accused of transporting a gun across state lines. During those times, many of the Black Panthers, across the nation, were arrested and jailed on false charges, some of whom are still incarcerated and may never see the light of day. Many were released after spending years in jail, i.e., Geronimo Pratt, who spent 27 years behind bars on what later turned out to be proven as false charges. Geronimo Pratt moved to Tanzania, down the road from Pete, and worked together to bring water into the village. He remained there until he died last year 2011.
EXILE IN TANZANIA
Pete ended up in Tanzania, because while he was out on bail, fearing being jailed on trumped up charges, and fearing being killed if he did to go jail, he and his girlfriend, at the time, Charlotte chose to go to Algeria and later to Tanzania, where he has settled for the past forty plus years. You’ll definitely want to listen to his story, no matter your age bracket.
During their time in Tanzania, Pete and Charlotte established the UAACC, (United African Alliance Community Center) which opens the door to the youth in the community, presenting new opportunities for the youth in the area. Charlotte is an artist in her own right, who both sings, draws, plays instruments and reads poetry. Through her efforts, she united the community and recognizes talents that may otherwise go unnoticed.
THE BIG SCREEN
A movie is in the process of being made about her life. Stay tuned for more information. When I was at UAACC Pete had 23 children, disadvantaged youth, that he helps support. They are a nonprofit community organization who depend on donations from guests, from others in the community and backing of people who visit to learn more about their organization to keep them going and growing.
Update: The movie – Mama C, Urban Warrior in the African Bush has been released and is available for sale . I can personally endorse this movie for everyone to view.
OUR GUESTS HAVE COME TO THE AID
Through the efforts of Destined To Travel and its guests, sufficient funds have been raised to bring solar to UAACC. Michael Coleman, a past guest, spearheaded this effort, and was able to collect in excess of the amount needed (over $7,000) to achieve this monumental feat. Thank you Michael for your devoted effort. Another guest has paid the tuition of the oldest child, which has allowed her to finish her boarding school this year, and and next year. Thank you Millie for your dedication. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to this worthy cause. The children LOVE being able to utilize solar power, when the power goes out. For Destined To Travel, we are very proud of our guests and what we have been able to accomplish in such a short time. We are ever grateful for Pete and UAACC to enter our lives. We are grateful for all the guests who have done so much to make this happen. A major shout-out to Dr. Lauren and her husband Carmelo for being my ‘stand-in’ in helping to organize our Make A Difference safari. We look forward to hosting you again in 2017 and the years to follow. You’re such an inspiration.
Written by Pete O’Neal:
“Hey Sister Kay!!!! Yes, YES!!!!! The solar was installed and is working fine! this has been a life altering project for us!! I posted where we had a “solar night” and just basked in the soft solar lighting throughout the center……….We feel blessed! Congratulations on having a beautiful family!!! But to you personally Michael, we are still singing praise songs for your life altering initiative!! Way to go brother!!!!”
Recommendation: Case for a Pardon: http://www.caseforapardon.com
Destined To Travel participates in this endeavor by organizing its groups to bring backpacks under its Operation Backpack program. These backpacks are filled with supplies that are needed to assist the organization. The group physically takes these backpacks to the organization and personally presents it to them, whether money or items, they feel comfortable that the money and items are going directly to the organization. The children are unforgettable, and grab at your heartstrings. Listening to Pete O’Neal and Charlotte, you are captivated by the life that they have led and everything they have done since their arrival in Tanzania. If you join one of my groups, and head off to Tanzania, for sure you too will have a unique and enriched experience.
Copyright © 2012-2014 Kay Trotman
Read the L.A. Times article
A book to consider: Case for A Pardon
A related film: http://www.mamacurbanwarriorfilm.com/