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University of Toledo hosts forum to discuss the 55th anniversary of Black Panther Party

To honor the anniversary and take a deeper look into the facts versus the myths associated with the party, UT held a forum on its importance.

TOLEDO, Ohio — It's the 55th anniversary of the creation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, based out of Oakland, California. 

To honor the milestone and take a deeper look into the facts versus the myths associated with the party, University of Toledo students, faculty, community leaders and artists came together Tuesday night to host a forum and showcase an original short film, "Toledo Panthers on the Prowl."

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The movie was based on events leading up the local Black Panther Party chapter in Toledo. Following the movie premier, panelist Imelda Hunt, professor Angela Siner, John Scott, and local artists and activist Hunter "Hunterprey" Turner spoke to attendees about how the party still impacts not only on America and the Black Lives Matter Movement, but the city of Toledo as well. 

Hunt explained that the forum wasn't just about Black lives or only spoken to Black people, the entire community was welcome to the nearly two-hour event. 

"To teach some of the cultural traditions that are part of the African American community," Hunt said. "So definitely when you think about traditions, activism, protests - that's part of just knowing America."

The conversation touched on the party's activism for persons of all walks of life and their works within the under privileged community.  

UT students and student leaders, Nyreisha Tevis and Devin Sample, are both juniors and members of the Black Student Union. The pair were both shocked that Toledo even had a Black Panther chapter. 

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"(I came here) not knowing that there was a Black Panther party in Toledo," Sample said. "So it's actually pretty empowering because you know Toledo has been sleep with a lot of negativity. A lot of deaths have been going on in the city and not a lot of people talking about it."

"Just to see how young they were when they were doing it, because they weren't that much older than we are now," Tevis said. "Just to see how young they were, it's just like you can do it because they did it. In a time where it was impossible, to be honest. We're living in a time, I'm not saying it's impossible for us, but we have a lot more leeway. We have a lot more freedom than they did back then," Tevis, BSU President, added. 

Activist and star in the movie Hunterprey said he was glad just to have this time to speak with one another and share the accurate information about the party. 

"Sometimes people aren't able to weed through that," he said. "So if we can help move on the path to say no this is what really happened this is what they really represented. It's all for the better," Hunterprey said.