Bobby Seale Biography

(Political Activist Who Co-founded the Black Panther Party)

Birthday: October 22, 1936 (Libra)

Born In: Liberty, Texas, United States

Bobby Seale is an American political activist best known as the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, a Black Power political organization. Born in Texas, Bobby moved with his family to Oakland when he was a child. In the 1950s, he served in the American Air Force. Upon his return from the Air Force, he completed his higher education in politics and engineering from a community college. While at college, he became involved in activism and joined the Afro-American Association (AAA). Bobby partnered up with his friend Huey Newton and laid the foundation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1966, with the aim of putting an end to the police brutality on the black Americans in Oakland. Eventually, he emerged as a strong political figure, gaining the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and was thus closely monitored as a possible cause of incitement of violence. He was one of the original “Chicago 8” defendants during the infamous 1968 Chicago trial. Due to lack of credible evidence, he was severed from the case but was later sentenced to 4 years in prison for contempt of court. He left the party in 1974 but continued his activism work.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Robert George Seale

Age: 86 Years, 86 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Leslie Johnson (m. 1974), Leslie M. Johnson-Seale, Artie Seale (m. 1965 - div. 1967)

father: George Seale

mother: Thelma Seale

children: Malik Seale

Born Country: United States

Black Activists Political Activists

Grouping of People: Black Activist

U.S. State: Texas, African-American From Texas

More Facts

education: Merritt College

Childhood & Early Life

Bobby Seale was born Robert George Seale, on October 22, 1936, in Liberty, Texas, to Thelma and George Seale. He grew up in a lower-middle-class family. His father worked as a carpenter, and his mother was a homemaker. He was born into extreme poverty and had an abusive father. Thus, he had a troublesome childhood. He was born as the eldest among three children in the family and had a younger brother and a sister growing up.

Shortly after Bobby’s birth, the family moved around Texas for a few years, before ultimately settling down in California. The family settled their base in Oakland, California when Bobby was eight years old, during The Great Migration. It was a period in American history which witnessed the large-scale movement of millions of poor black population from Southern states to different parts of the country for better work opportunities.

In Oakland, he attended Berkeley High School but dropped out of the school midway and joined the United States Air Force in the mid-1950s. He served three years in the Air Force, after which he was court-martialled for having an altercation with his commanding officer and was dishonorably discharged for his bad conduct.

He intended to resume his education, but his family was not in a position to afford to support his further education. Hence, he began working as a sheet metal mechanic during the day and went to a night school to earn a high school diploma. His hard work paid off, and he successfully completed his high school diploma. He then enrolled at Merritt Community College and studied politics and engineering.

It was during college that he became politically active. He became well versed with the history of slavery and the American Black History in general and began working as an activist. He joined the Afro-American Association, a group that was devoted to black separatism.

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While working at the AAA group, Bobby also began working at the North Oakland Neighborhood Anti-Poverty Center. It is a government-funded organization that worked specifically in black areas where poverty and illiteracy were rampant. Bobby actively worked toward educating the youth about the Black-American History and taught them to empathize with other people who live in their community.

Bobby and his friend Huey Newton established a group called Soul Students Advisory Council, which was formed to cater to the black community in a revolutionary fashion.

The assassination of the well-known black-activist Malcolm X in 1965 had deeply disappointed Huey and Bobby. They adopted the slogan that Malcolm frequently used—“freedom by any means necessary”—and felt the need for a political organization that would fight for the rights of the black American population. Thus, Bobby and Huey together laid the foundation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.

The main goal of the Black Panther Party, along with calling out police brutality on African-Americans, was to support the black community of America in gaining equality, freedom, and respect into the American socio-cultural scene. The party was highly active from 1966 to 1982 and eventually gained prominence as the most talked-about black activism organization in the country.

The party started in Oakland, and eventually, it spread out across the country, opening “chapters” in many cities, such as Chicago and New York. In the later years, the party also spread out to Algeria and the UK. At its inception, the main goal of the party members was to keep an eye on the incidences of police brutality against the black population in Oakland. This also led to several violent altercations between the two groups, the Oakland Police Department and the Black Panther members.

However, the party was not well received by some prominent figures, such as J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, who said that the Black Panther Party was a threat to the internal security of the country. While the party worked mostly toward the rehabilitation of the local black population, their presence did cause political upheaval in the political climate of the country.

Bobby believed that there were some misconceptions about the party, even among the black population. Hence, he co-wrote the doctrine titled “What We Want Now!” This way, Bobby intended to convey the message about the core philosophy of the Black Panther Party among the youth, in order to employ more black people into the party.

He also authored the Ten-Point Program, which is a set of guidelines describing the party’s ways of operation and ideals. Bobby had become the Chairman of the party. However, he was always kept under surveillance by the FBI, after J. Edgar deemed him an “internal threat.”

He was one of the defendants during the famous trial of “Chicago 8,” which took place after the riot in the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Bobby, along with seven other activists, was charged with inciting riots that took place during the convention. Bobby Seale was not directly involved in the protests, and hence, the evidence against him was not sufficient to charge him.

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However, he was infamously beaten and gagged in the courtroom and was sentenced to four years in prison, on 16 contempt of court charges. He was charged for bursting out during the trial, which, according to him, was racially motivated. However, he was severed from the original “Chicago 8,” and it later became the “The Trial of the Chicago Seven.”

While he was in prison, in 1970, another case opened against him, accusing him of planning the murder of a fellow Black Panther member. The main accused George Sams testified that it was Bobby who commanded to kill Alex Rackley. However, the charges against him were finally dropped, and he was released from prison in 1972.

While Bobby was in prison, his wife became pregnant, owing to an affair with a fellow member of Black Panther Party named Fred Bennett. Fred was later found murdered in 1971. Bobby was implicated in the murder, but no charges were pressed against him.

In 1973, he ran for the Mayor elections of Oakland, and among the nine candidates who contested in the elections, he was the first runner up.

Bobby ended his association with the Black Panther Party in 1974. However, he is still active as a black-rights activist.

He wrote an autobiography titled A Lonely Rage. He has also authored another book titled Power to the People: The World of Black Panthers. In addition, he has appeared in the documentary films titled Cold War and The U.S. vs. John Lennon.

Personal Life

Bobby Seale married Artie Seale in 1965, and the couple had one son together, named Malik Seale. They divorced in the early 1970s.

Later, in 1974, Bobby married Leslie Johnson

There were rumours that Bobby and his best friend Huey Newton once got into a nasty brawl, which led to Bobby’s resignation from the party. However, Bobby denied the rumours and said that they were still friend

See the events in life of Bobby Seale in Chronological Order

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