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Black Against Black: The Agony of Panthermania

"Black Nationalists are nothing but mirrors of the materialist white society!"

The shouted comment came from the cellarway. So we all take the cue to go downstairs and check what Junius is doing. He is curled around the blue notebook, his only key to reality, and writing the manifesto for a new revolutionary party.

Student Organizing of Private Schools: Teams of politically literate students must be sent to organize other schools and aid on drugs, draft counseling, abortions and other relevant subjects.

(1) Hold student worshops

(2) Free the Student Union

(3) Expose teachers—but do not antagonize them

(4) Be very tacful.

Junius hesitates to show us any more until he has cleaned up the spelling. And worked out his philosophy along more tactical lines—maybe by our next visit.

"Things are moving too fast to waste time talking." He goes back to work on the notebook, tense but absorbed. In his hand is a plastic PaperMate pen. When he pauses to think against the moving clock how to build a better revolution, he punches the pen point nervously in and out. Tip-tick. Tip-tick. Unable to sleep or be a Panther, what Junius Jones was shooting last May in New Haven was a ball point pen.

How much time would he have? Before I saw Junius again, I went back to where Panthermania started here and tried to put some pieces together.

The Panther trial opened in New Haven in June and for the first two months stumbled along like a tryout with a cast of unknowns. The stars, Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins, were yet to appear.

". . . 'What if someone finds your notebook?' we ask. 'I'll kill myself,' he says . . ."

Abbie Hoffman phoned Junius Jones in early August. His father answered.

"No," William answered. "My son would definitely not be interested in going to Cuba on a Yippie action."

When Junius had come home from a rap session at Number Nine, his father had the suitcase packed. They went for a two-week forced holiday to the Jersey shore. The boy's corners softened. His first year as a preppie had left Junius feeling like a pound of plaster of Paris, stained Oxford brown. Disillusioned with popcorn radicals, he had given up on trying to organize his movement through Massachusetts prep schools. He came home and took the cure at Number Nine for the month of July.

All messed up. Smoking in the crash pad, surrounded again by rich white' baby-powder baddies, Junius realized he had been taken in as the token black head. He withdrew. The vacation in Jersey actually looked good. Junius took along the great works of twentieth-century philosophy—Nkrumah's Handbook, Rubin's Do It, the Constitution of the Communist Party of China and Ray Brown's Die Nigger Die.

On the Sunday father and son returned, Junius found the round black neighbor women still sitting next door on a tiny cement stoop. Sitting deep in their Sears webbed nylon chairs, still tying bows on their little girls' pigtails, sitting all day making fun of their men on a piece of the world no bigger than a closet. Junius freaked.

"Everything is based on money. If you can get your thirty thousand a year, eff the other guy. If you can do it, he can do it. But everybody cannot do that. 'Cause the system is not set up that way."

The eyes of the round black women scraped up and down Junius like he was a baby carrot.

"Listen heuh, Mistuh Junius Jones," one neighbor woman said, rocking back on her Sears chair. "There's one way of tellin' how much of man a man is. That's by how much money he makes."

Junius decided not to waste his breath on the neighbors any more. It was not quite the time. But he did make the decision to forget prep school. They needed him badly in New Haven. He knew it now! His calling was to organize local high schools into a third revolutionary force.

On the last Saturday in August the indefatigable Abbie is back again on the Yale green, playing Fuller Brush Man for the revolution. "How many people are ready to start a Yippie party in New Haven!" he demands. The jury has been out twenty-some hours deliberating the fate of Lonnie McLucas, first of the eight Panthers to be tried for the murder of Alex Rackley.

The crisis potential is high, yet . . . Abbie is still putting them to sleep. What is it with this town?

Shouts burst forth into the familiar din. Marching down Chapel Street past the courthouse and straight up to the platform of Abbie Hoffman, belligerently, is a ragtag string of high school kids. But their leader is something formidable:


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