Former Black Panther captain to speak about memoir

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Political activist and former captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party, Aaron Dixon, will do two presentations on his memoir ‘My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain’ on Thursday, April 10 in LC 155.

Aaron Dixon will give two presentations, one from 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and the other from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in LC 155.

History professor Julie Davis has invited Dixon to speak about the experiences he has written about in his memoir. This is not the first time Dixon has spoken at Cerritos College, last semester he spoke to Davis’ history classes about his book.

“Over the last couple of years a number of students have expressed that we didn’t do enough discussion on the black power movement in the civil rights,” Davis said. “So I researched some memoirs because I like to assign memoirs as the third book and I found his memoir and I read it and I fell in love with it.”

Dixon has recently toured around the east coast to speak about his book “My People Are Rising” that was published in 2012.

“I remember being really charged at this one moment in 1968 where he is arrested as a result of being part of a student movement and he’s sitting in jail,” Davis recalls a memorable part of the book.

“This was the first time he’d ever been arrested and he looks up and he’s watching the television coverage of Dr. King’s assassination and within two to three weeks of that time period he has already met the leaders of the Black Panther Party. Within essentially a month or less, his whole life changes completely,” Davis said.

Davis has had Dixon’s past visits planned since last year and hopes that students enjoy the experience.

Psychology major, Hadiah Fattal, has read Dixon’s memoir for Davis’s class and says she enjoyed it.

“I thought the story was great, the transition was great, just the whole mood of the book, how he just carried everything out. He didn’t make it like a boring ‘here’s a story of my life’,” Fattal said.

She says Dixon has changed the way she thinks about the Black Panthers.

“In Hollywood they kind of portray them as mean and assholes. Well we saw what they did like community service. They did a lot of community service and I didn’t know anything about that.”

David Ortega has also read Dixon’s memoir and hopes to meet him during the presentation. He says that Dixon’s memoirs made the history behind it more connectable.

“You can connect more with his memoirs because you’re seeing the fights that he’s gone through, how he was raised and it’s more understandable.”

He says that the most memorable thing about Dixon’s memoirs was that Dixon always stood up for what he believed in.

“He knew that he had strong feelings about whatever he had and he was able to stand up for it.”

Ortega has known about Dixon’s upcoming visit since the beginning of the semester and hopes to meet him soon.

“I would like to ask him how big of an influence certain particular people were in his life and had they not been around is it possible his entire perception of the Black Panther Party and the things he did would be different,” Ortega said.

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