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The Black Panther Oakland Community School Research Cluster

Raised toward our $5,500 Goal
1 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on March 18, at 08:30 AM PDT
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The Black Panther Oakland Community School Research Cluster

Photo courtesy of the OCS Project

In 1973, the Black Panther Party founded the Oakland Community School to provide education for Black and low-income children who lived in urban communities. The school provided students with three meals a day and developed a curriculum highlighting Black history. The Oakland Community School has become the model for today’s educational institutions, operating on liberation and empowerment principles and promoting innovative practices of mindfulness and restorative justice.


Photo credit: The OCS Project


The Black Panther Oakland Community School Research Cluster aims to recover, preserve, and share history, while honoring the stories and people who created and sustained the Oakland Community School. 

The cluster was created in 2021 in a partnership between the UCI Humanities Center and Angela LeBlanc-Ernest, independent scholar, oral historian, documentarian and community archivist. Led by Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, professor of History and Humanities Center faculty director, the cluster provides a 10-week paid summer fellowship for both undergraduate and graduate students to learn and practice critical research, archival research, oral history and digital humanities skills to record the community’s history.

Collaborating with filmmakers, creative writers and academics, our students create community-centered archives to preserve their stories through various projects such as:

  • An interactive digital yearbook containing the narratives of former students, teachers and parents who were involved in the Oakland Community School
  • A traveling exhibition featuring never-before-seen images from the rare Black Panther Party collection
  • A documentary film and video series about the Oakland Community School

Photo credit: The OCS Project

Today, we invite you to join us in supporting our student researchers who are dedicated to preserving the history of the Black Panther Party and Oakland Community School. Thanks to a generous commitment from alumna Mary Watson-Bruce, every gift made will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $1000! In addition, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty Development, and Public Engagement for the School of Humanities invites the community to support BPP by contributing a gracious unlocking gift of $5,000 if we reach 30 donations of any size!

Your support will help us continue the cluster in the next academic year. Your generous donations of any size will enable our students to continue to engage in cultural production that amplifies the voices of those who created and sustained the Oakland Community School. 

Student Testimonials



“The research cluster is on the forefront of new and exciting research in the digital humanities and public history, bringing attention to an important story that has not otherwise gotten the attention it deserves. Bringing history back to the community and preserving it in multiple different mediums is more important now than ever as the teaching of history has become political. This cluster is an example of what great work can be done when interdisciplinary scholars come together to work on preserving history, telling stories, and fighting for social justice. I am currently working on founding an educational nonprofit based on my research due to the experiences I had in the research cluster!” - Haleigh Marcello (History Ph.D. candidate)

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“I learned there is a difference between doing work ‘on’ a community, compared to doing work ‘for’ a community. If the community’s perspectives, history, and values are not at the core of our work, it does not seek to benefit the community itself. Being able to listen to and speak with amazing activists and access the wealth of material Angela has on the BPOCS is something uniquely special. Interacting with the photos, videos, and accounts from individuals associated with the school brought their stories to life.” - Johnny Vu (23’ Psychological Science and Criminology, Law and Society)


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“Learning about the collective impact that the Oakland Community School had on both the teachers and students truly deepend my appreciation for education– especially as I found myself in an educator role that summer as a ballet teacher to young students. As a first-generation college graduate, these types of connections and relationships are invaluable to me as I embark on the beginning of my own career.” - Micherlange Francois-Hemsley (22’ African-American Studies)


Black Panther Party and Cluster Supporter Testimonials


                                      A person with dark hair wearing a black jacket

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“I decided to join the cluster to tell my/our story, to demystify the history, to reverse the negative views of those interested in learning the truth, and to reveal this history to those who are unaware. This is long overdue as many have distorted or incomplete interpretations of the Black Panther Party, partly due to lack of knowledge and in some part, misinformation disseminated by the authorities, the government, and the media. As a child of the Party, I am often questioned about my experiences. I can’t count the number of times I have been asked, “What was it like?” These stories have previously been told by those looking in from the outside, by those who were adults at the time, and the media. This project can offer a more accurate view by allowing the information to come from those who experienced it.” - Erica Watkins (Alumni from the Oakland Community School)


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“My interactions with Angela and the cluster have illuminated two key lessons. First, the transformative power of respect, commitment, and intentional practice in fostering liberation for the Black population and, consequently, for all people. Second, the profound connection of the Black diaspora to a Black Radical Tradition, a brilliance and lifelong commitment that not only made Black lives possible but also holds the potential to dismantle antiblackness. This collective effort allows us, as a global community, to continue learning, finding inspiration, and actively participating in the necessary lessons that may ultimately help us reshape this world anew.” - Éllen Cintra (Ph.D. candidate in Education at the University of Brasília)


To read about the team and students involved, click here:

To listen to podcasts from previous BPOSCRC events, click here: 

Black Panther Oakland Community School Community Archives, Activism, and Storytelling Research Cluster


Choose a giving level


Guest Speaker Honorarium

Guest Speaker Honorarium - Past speakers have featured Oakland Community School teachers, students, and parents.


Travel for BPOCSRC alum

Travel for BPOCSRC alum to return to UCI, share experiences, and mentor current students


Conference Participation

Conference Participation for student researchers and/or academic partner (travel, registration, lodgings)


Exhibition Costs

Exhibition Costs photos on foam core, large retractable banners, tabletop retractable banners, photocopies of archival material visitors can take with them, brochure/catalog



Honorarium to Academic Partner for mentorship, research expenses, and in-person visit


Student Researcher

Undergraduate Student Researcher


Graduate Student Researcher

Graduate Student Researcher

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