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Update: Parents protest Black Panthers school celebration


On Monday, I posted this story about a Minnesota high school commemorating Black History Month with a flowery presentation on the Black Panthers, a revolutionary Marxist group notorious for violent protests and involvement in the Black Power movement during the 1960s and 1970s.  Predictably, many parents weren't too thrilled that propaganda from a Marxist website was being used to "educate" their children about history.

Many people took interest in the story, so I wanted to update you on the latest.

The Twin Cities Pioneer Pressreports that parents in Woodbury are organizing a protest and presentation for the South Washington County school:

"The objection is not that the Panthers were black but that they were violent," said Andrea Mayer-Bruestle of Woodbury. "If you commemorated al-Qaida, the Ku Klux Klan or a Hitler youth group, how many parents would be freaking out?"

Since the story first ran, the school has spoken up in its own defense:

"The facts relate to either people or events that are a part of our country's history focusing on those influencing black history," school principal Aaron Harper said in a statement.  "Whether people believe in the Panthers' ideals or not, they are part of our history, and we are sharing these facts with our students."

But parents objected to the fact that the presentation didn't present a complete picture of the Panthers, including the convictions of its leaders for violent crimes and murder.  At the height of their power, the FBI considered the Panthers to be a terrorist group and a threat to the country.  Students should learn about the Panthers, but in a classroom setting, Woodbury resident Steve Ellenwood argues.

"At a minimum, parents would like an apology," adds Mayer-Bruestle. "Martin Luther King Jr. would be rolling in his grave. He was intolerant of groups like the Black Panthers."

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