Black Panther - Charles Barron - Black History and Literature Library
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  • Black Panther - Charles Barron - Black Activist, Black Man, Black Panther - Black History and Literature Library

    Black Panther - Charles Barron

    Charles Barron (born October 7, 1950) is an American activist and politician who currently represents the 60th District of the New York Assembly. Formerly, he represented Brooklyn's 42nd District on the New York City Council from 2001 to 2013.

    A self-described "elected activist", Barron ran for Mayor of New York City in 2005. In 2006 he was narrowly defeated by Edolphus Towns in the Democratic Party primary for the U.S. House of Representatives (10th Congressional District). He ran again in the Democratic primary for the 8th District Congressional seat being vacated by Towns, but lost to State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, 28% to 72%.

    Barron began his career working as a community activist in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1980s. He became chief of staff for Rev. Herbert Daughtry before running for the New York city council, where he served from 2001 to 2013.

    In March 2020, Barron tested positive for COVID-19.

    Barron was born on October 7, 1950. For six years his family lived in Corona, Queens, then moved to the Lillian Wald housing project in Lower Manhattan. He attended Seward Park High School in Lower Manhattan, but left before graduating, but later earned his GED. He went on to attend New York City Technical College (then known as New York City Community College), earning an associate degree, and Hunter College, where he graduated with a B.A. in Sociology.

    In 1969, when he was 18 years old, Barron was recruited to the Harlem branch of the Black Panther Party by a member named Mark Holder. Barron distributed newspapers for the party, and developed an interest in politics. He studied the Third World independence movement and the ideas of African leaders as Kwame Nkrumah (president of Ghana) and Ahmed Sékou Touré (president of Guinea). Barron became increasingly critical of U.S. foreign policy. He opposed the Duvaliers in Haiti, Pinochet in Chile, Marcos in the Philippines, Pahlavi of Iran, and Somoza of Nicaragua. He recalled in 2010, "It was strange, because everybody I was against, America was for."

    In 1979, Barron joined the National Black United Front (NBUF), and was the founding chairperson of its Harlem Chapter. In 1982, as head of the Harlem Chapter, Barron was arrested with Preston Wilcox from the Institute of African Research because they, with roughly 12 to 20 other protesters, attempted to "forcibly remove" Robert Morris, a white historian, from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Morris had been appointed chief archivist of the center. The members of the group were charged with harassment and criminal trespassing.

    Shortly after the incident, Barron was appointed chief of staff to the Reverend Herbert Daughtry, chairperson of the NBUF and minister at Brooklyn's House of the Lord Church. In 1983, Barron moved to East New York, where he and his wife founded the Dynamics of Leadership Company. He spoke at many organizations and schools, including Harvard and Yale, teaching principles of negotiation, team-building, emotional intelligence, and leadership. From 1982 to 1987, Barron served as secretary general of the African Peoples Christian Organization (APCO). He traveled across the United States visiting college campuses, churches, prisons and communities "organizing around international, national and local issues."

    On December 21, 1987, Barron participated in a "day of outrage" to protest racism in the New York City Police Department and local courts. The protest involved blocking traffic during the evening rush hour, including eastbound traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as stopping subway trains in several stations. More than 70 protesters were arrested; most were charged with obstruction of government administration and disorderly conduct. Among the few who actually stood on the subway tracks included Barron, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, Rev. Timothy Mitchell, Assemblyman Roger Greene, and lawyer C. Vernon Mason, who were additionally charged with criminal trespass. All were held overnight in jail, which elicited further claims of racial bias. Sharpton, Mitchell and Barron were convicted in February 1990, with Mitchell and Barron being jailed for 45 days. Barron spent another 25 days in jail, with Sharpton, for a protest related to the Tawana Brawley rape allegations.

    In 1988, Barron published two children's books: Up You Mighty People, You Can Accomplish What You Will and Look For Me in the Whirlwind, written about the life of Marcus Garvey.

    One successful accomplishment of Barron and his allies was preventing the construction by the city of a wood-burning incinerator in the neighborhood. In 1996, Barron and community groups also fought the building of a natural gas generator. Barron said his opposition to the incinerator is what catapulted him into electoral politics.

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