Black Panther Party Review of Black History Events in San Diego

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Henry Lee Wallace V
March 21, 2024

Message from, Henry Lee Wallace V, Chairman San Diego Original Black Panther Party For Community,

Empowerment, pictured above

Greetings to one and all!

Black History Month 2024 was full of excitement, wonder, and knowledge. I was fortunate to begin my Black History Month journey of enlightenment at San Diego State University on the first day of February. I was invited to participate in a town hall forum, based on my experience as an original member of the San Diego Original Black Panther Party.

The students and faculty of San Diego State University were enlightening and inquisitive.

After my co-panelists and I shared our recollections of the San Diego of old for 45 minutes, the students and faculty, then, asked questions. I was struck by their knowledge of the civil unrest of the 1960s. Some of the faculty were actual participants during that time, and they shared their experiences with the students and panelists.

It was such an exciting forum that we ran over our allotted time. At the end of our forum, we took numerous group photos.

On February 15, 2024, I spoke with the students and faculty at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, CA. I was amazed by the number of students who attended the forum. This time, I was joined by Mr. Robert W. Williams and Mr. William Upton, Black Panther Party members, who flew out of Chicago, Illinois, to participate in the forum.

I was amazed by the diversity of this college. I am proud to say Southwestern College has come a long way in the diversification of its student body. I noticed that Southwestern College’s tensions and conflicts have dispersed, and there’s harmony in play. The students actively participated in learning about the San Diego Original Black Panther Party’s place in San Diego and the nation’s history. I look forward to future interactions with the Southwestern College students and faculty.

February 17, 2024, was a double hitter. I was fortunate to speak at the Neal Petties Mountain View Community Park. I spoke about the history of this park and how it was a flash point of civil unrest several times during the Civil Rights Movement. I spoke of the need to preserve the park’s place in history. Neal Petties Park has been awarded a six-figure grant to start the preservation and restoration of the park.

That same afternoon, I was invited to share my past experiences at the oldest Black-owned building (in San Diego), known as the Clementine McDuff Elks Lodge #598. This Black History Month event was hosted by grant awardee Mrs. Kim Pea, who invited the community to this historic building. There were several Civil Rights activists who spoke on the need to preserve the Clementine McDuff Elks Lodge and educate the community on growing and supporting Black businesses in San Diego.

On February 21, 2024, I was invited to join the Neal Petties steering committee. I felt very welcomed by this group of diverse community members. The committee was staffed by Caleb with San Diego’s City Recreation, along with San Diego’s city police, the sheriff’s department, the city council staff and various community members. I want to thank Mr. G, Cybele Thompson, Dwayne Hill and Jeffrey Hayes, for making me feel welcomed at the business meeting. A lot of good planning came out of the meeting for the Neal Petties Park. I can’t wait to see the future improvements to this park.

On February 24, 2024, I was fortunate to attend The Keepers of the Culture 2024.It was pure Black excellence. The San Diego History Center located in Balboa Park was packed with a who’s who of the A-listers. I enjoyed seeing the iconic panelists and hearing their light-hearted exchanges with the attendees. The panelists consisted of county supervisor Mrs. Monica Montgomery Steppe, Vernon Sukumu, formerly of the Us Organization, former members of the R&B singing group Satisfaction and others. Their stories were told with humor and laughter. It was a night to remember.

On February 25, 2024, the African American Heritage celebration took place. It was hosted by Ms. Kristie Cummings, Secretary of the House of the USA. This event was attended by a diverse cross-section of our community. It was located in the historic houses of nations in beautiful Balboa Park. The participants of this wonderful event were the Boys Scouts, San Diego Police and the sheriff’s department. There were speeches by community activists and myself. I even shared my musical talents with the attendees.

On February 28, 2024, several community activists and I were invited to the hallowed chamber of city hall by the Human Relations Commission’s Tootie Thomas  (Chair), Tyker Duncan(Vice-Chair), Ryan Trabuco (secretary). We all received numerous certificates from the city fathers and the Bayard Rustin Plaque award, by the Commission.

On February 29, 2024, I was invited, at the last minute, to a Black History Month celebration at the old post office in El Centro, California. The celebration was hosted by Black Lives Matter, which is headed by Mr. Hilton Smith and his son Wesley Smith.

The community was diverse, with plenty of multi-cultural food. Yummy!!! There was music performed by Ms. Toot. Five community members were recognized, including myself. We were awarded a Black Lives Matter medal. Our keynote speaker was Mr. Yusef Miller of the North County Equity and Justice Coalition/San Diego Original Black Panther Party.

We had a heartfelt, wonderful time.

I want to thank all of the event hosts and our communities for a fun-filled 2024 Black History Month!