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A Tribute to Bobby Hutton

Emma, 9

I didn’t know much about Bobby Hutton until recently, when I read about the Black Panthers. It’s important to know the parts of history that are hidden from us. During Black History Month, we are taught about people like Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan. But we’re rarely taught about people like Bobby Hutton, Malcolm X, and Huey P. Newton. Bobby Hutton was a sixteen-year-old member of the Oakland, CA Black Panther Party, an organization led by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale that fought for Black people’s rights and protested police brutality. They also fought for the working class and against capitalism. “Lil’” Bobby, as he was called, was the youngest member. It’s important for people to remember him and all the Black Panthers, and know his story.


Bobby Hutton was with Eldridge Cleaver when Bobby was murdered. Their plan for a revolution had failed. The police caught Hutton and Cleaver, which led to a shoot-out. No one knew who fired the first shot, but Hutton and Cleaver fled for safety into the nearest basement of someone’s house. The police set off smoke bombs and started a fire. Eventually, Hutton and Cleaver realized they had to surrender. Cleaver took all of his clothes off to show that he didn’t have a gun. Hutton took his shirt off and came outside with his hands up, too self-conscious to take off the rest of his clothes. Nonetheless, the police immediately opened fire, killing Hutton and injuring Cleaver, and that last shred of trust—that the police would not shoot a person if they knew they weren’t armed—had faded away.


Below is a poem I wrote called A Letter, dedicated to Bobby Hutton. We all should remember him and know his story.


A Letter

For Bobby Hutton


I think you missed

the birds calling in those last moments.


I think the leaves

stopped rustling

when the bullets hit.


I wish you were able

to hear

the trees whisper

and the flowers grow

instead of the guns

and the creaking of

the burning house.


I think you missed

how every single pair

of paws was clasped together

in prayer for you.


I think you missed

it while you were falling.


I think you missed

how the mud

parted ways for you.


I think you missed

your own funeral

but doesn’t everyone?


You were entangled

in black shadows

you were pulled farther

back, you were pulled inside.


I think

you didn’t see the tears

because you

couldn’t cry.


I know

your eyes were closed.


Can I take it for granted

that your limbs were straight

or were they slowly

breaking in that casket?


Did you know what

happened afterwards

or was your head

just blank forevermore?


I don’t think

you saw the way

the others mourned.


You were far,

far away,

maybe even nowhere.

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