Large stretch of West Oakland street renamed in honor of Black Panther Party co-founder

Large stretch of West Oakland street renamed in honor of Black Panther Party co-founder
Dr. Huey P. Newton Way in West Oakland | Photo: Amir Aziz/The Oaklandside
By Matt Charnock - Published on February 23, 2021.

Last Wednesday, a three-block stretch of West Oakland's Ninth Street was renamed to pay homage to the cofounder of the Black Panther Party, Dr. Huey P. Newton — another example of recent acts honoring the legacy of the Black Panther movement.

As reported by Oaklandside and KPIX, the commemorative plaque for Dr. Huey P. Newton Way — which stands not too far from where then 47-year-old Newton was shot and killed on August 23, 1989 — was unveiled last week to a celebratory, socially distanced crowd of activists, city council members, and passerby. The happening and street renaming received support from the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, established after his passing and still managed by Newton’s widow, Fredrika Newton. 

“This [street intersection] is both [a place of] darkness and light,” Newton said to a crowd of perhaps 100 people who gathered to see the unveiling, per KPIX. Come October of this year, a bronze bust of Huey Newton will be erected at the head of the street now named after him to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party.

Newly-elected City Councilmember Carroll Fife, who became a prominent activist on the equal housing movement as part of the Moms 4 Housing cohort and whose district includes West Oakland, was also in attendance. In an email to Hoodline, Fife waxed on the importance of “honoring and celebrating great acts” like these — but reiterated that there’s more necessary work to be done.

“The city is hurting,” Fife writes. “The community is in pain. There is work to be done. Not just by honoring and celebrating great acts but by doing the work necessary to change conditions, which is the legacy that Huey P. Newton left for us to carry on.”

The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 in Oakland by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale; a Black Panther Party monument is set to be erected in the city sometime in the future, which will double as a museum and archive for the now-defunct The Black Panther newspaper.

Seale figures prominently in the 2020 Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago 7, written by Aaron Sorkin, which has garnered early buzz for possible Oscar nominations.