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Writing Instruction at the Black Panther Party’s Oakland Community School


To address the inadequate education that Black students were receiving in public schools, the Black Panther Party (BPP) opened its first liberation schools in June 1969, modeling them after the Mississippi Freedom Schools of the modern Civil Rights Movement. The most prominent of these schools was the Oakland Community School (OCS). Although OCS had an ephemeral existence from 1971 to 1982, the school redefined education for elementary and secondary students in poor public schools in Oakland, California. Teachers and administrators at OCS adopted a less traditional curriculum that incorporated community involvement and political awareness to take a progressive approach toward writing instruction. Anecdotal evidence suggests that OCS’s language curriculum was entirely progressive; however, a closer examination of their pedagogy reveals teachers embraced several traditional approaches to writing instruction.

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Correspondence to Destiny Joilene Benjamin.

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Benjamin, D.J. Writing Instruction at the Black Panther Party’s Oakland Community School. J Afr Am St 25, 576–598 (2021).

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  • Oakland Community School
  • Black Panther Party
  • Education
  • Intercommunal Youth Institute