Where did the Black Panther Party colors come from? From Bobby Seale

A question was asked by Comrade Esutosin Omowale Osunkoya (formerly known as Charles Bronson) as to where the Black Panther Party colors came from.

This is the response from Bobby Seale, Chairman and cofounder of the Black Panther Party:
Bobby Seale-BPP Founder

Bobby Seale-BPP Founder

“I created our BPP colors of BLACK & BLUE. It had to do with our early sixties old blues research beginning with the early 1950’s song “I Don’t Know” BobbySeale2011Philadelphiathat had surviving africanisms in its lyrics and another folkloric song about ‘Stagolee’ (A folkloric lumpen proletariat who needed political consciousness) and many other blues singers going back to the early 1900’s. Studying our Black American and African history I had also read and digested LeRoi Jones’, (Amiri Baraka} ‘BLUES PEOPLE’ when it first came out in 1963. Being a jazz drummer myself from 1957 in the military {USAF}, and my jazz drummer cousin Johnny Kirkwood first taught me swing at age 13, He played for Diana Washington & Lionel Hampton) all played a role that led to our BPP colors. The very April 1966 night of the fight Huey and I had with the Berkeley police we went up to the record boutiques on Telegraph Ave. at UC Berkeley to listen to some of the old blues singers including recordings of very old blues singers being interviewed about our African American folkloric history. That was why we were up there that night in the first place. (One of the many songs we listen to had the lyrics, “What did I do, to be so Black and Blue?”

To me those lyric became a metaphor in my thinking of Black people being beat up for two hundred years and the basic every day blues in our lives. So, five months or so later after we finished the Ten Point Program one day out in front of Merritt College Huey walked up dressed in a sport coat style Black Leather Jacket, Black slacks, pimp socks and a powder blue shirt. And like a movie director, I said hold it Huey. Huey was surprised at me looking at his dress as I said, “Huey this is our uniform. This will be it. When we go out in the community we have to look organized along with our Ten Point Program. And these will be our Black Panther Party for Self Defense colors Huey. Black and Blue. Huey remember one of the songs we listed to the night of the fight with the police, “What did I do, to be so Black and Blue?” Huey these will be our organizational colors. Black and Blue!” Huey agreed.”

If you have a question for one of the founders, please send an email to: askthefounders@naabpp.org