African American Heritage

Bobby Seale

Bobby Seale was born in Liberty, Texas, the eldest of three children. After moving around to a few cities in Texas, his family finally settled in Oakland, California when Bobby was eight years old. After a stint in the Air Force, Seale attended Merritt College where he joined the Afro-American Association, a student organization dedicated to advocating for black separatism. Through that organization, Seale met Huey Newton. Together, inspired by Malcolm X, they founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP). Seale served as the Chairman while Newton served as the Minister of Defense.

In the early years of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale was repeatedly arrested and tried on multiple charges. He was a part of the Chicago Eight and the New Haven Black Panther trials. He was also suspected of murdering a fellow Panther who allegedly impregnated his wife while Seale was in jail but no charges were brought. After his final release, the BPP wanted to clean up their image and announced the implementation of a breakfast program which served many cities. Seale ran for mayor of Oakland, CA in 1973 and, even though he lost, he received the second most votes out of nine candidates.

After the destruction of the Black Panther Party, Seale taught black studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. He moved back to Oakland in 2002 to help young activists influence social change. He speaks at colleges worldwide regarding his experiences as a Black Panther and gives advices regarding community organizing and social justice.

Records at the National Archives relating to Bobby Seale include the case file where he was indicted as a member of the Chicago Eight for inciting riots during the Democtatic National Convention in 1968, FBI case files investigating his activities as a Black Panter, and Nixon White House tapes where he is mentioned in conversation.

Web Highlights

Rediscovering Black History: Black Panther: a News Reel Video


Record Group 21: District Courts of the United States

Criminal Case Files, 1873-1991 National Archives Identifier 624785

Selected Records
United States v. Dellinger, et al ( NAID 6210763)
Indictment ( NAID 6277824)
Note Written by Defendant Seale Regarding Blood Circulation ( NAID 6277282)
Statement Submitted by Defendant Bobby Seale ( NAID 6277829)

Record Group 65: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files

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Motion Picture Films and Video Recordings, ca. 1936- ca. 1985 National Archives Identifier: 12073

Selected Records
Black Panther ( NAID 12101) Also available for viewing on YouTube

RN-WHT: White House Tapes (Nixon)

White House Telephone Recordings, 1971-1973 National Archives Identifier: 17412458

Online Audio Recordings - Tape 46 Conversations

Selected Records
White House telephone tape number 46 ( NAID 7450089)