A homeowner in Oakland, California, birthplace of the Black Panther Party, commissioned an artist to paint a mural on her house featuring women of the political organization, active from the 1960's to the 80's. (Feb. 23)
JILCHRISTINA VEST: I purchased my house here in West Oakland because of the history of the Black Panther Party. And I wanted to be close to that, I wanted to be around that. They lived in this neighborhood. The first breakfast program was in West Oakland. So a lot of the activities and a lot of their survival programs were based specifically in West Oakland. 70% of the Panther Party was made up of women.
And at the height of their membership, you know, you had chapters that were 3 to 1 women, and 5 to 1 women. Chapters were led by women. Chapters were opened by women.
It looks brilliant, and I can't believe you did it so fast again. [LAUGHS]
RACHEL WOLFE-GOLDSMITH: So we have one woman protesting. She'll have buttons that are relevant to all of the stuff that was going on then and now. And then we have the woman with the rifle kind of watching over everything. And then I wanted to bring that all together with the woman who is in her medical outfit and holding her child and have that love, mother-child relationship at the forefront of this.
JILCHRISTINA VEST: The Black Panther Party wasn't a group of terrorists, and it wasn't a bunch of men holding guns. They picked up guns when guns were drawn on them. You know, they were protecting themselves, they were protecting their families, they were protecting their children and protecting their community from police brutality, which is still relevant today.
RACHEL WOLFE-GOLDSMITH: Like who wouldn't defend their family and their community when they're being murdered, when they're being oppressed, when they can't get jobs or housing? You know what I mean? So I think that the rest of America is ready to look at the complexities and the depth of the struggle on a systematic level.
JILCHRISTINA VEST: And the Panthers were in the past. Everything that they did, everything that they fought for, everything that they believed in, and everything that they were hoping to change-- we're still doing that. We're still hoping to change that.