Speaker offers perspective for Black History Month

Dr. Elliot Oborne delivers at speech at Delta College. PHOTO BY AUSTIN NORDYKE

On Feb. 16, Delta College welcomed Dr. Elliott Osborne to speak in celebration of Black History Month.

The message he intended to get across through “Black Panthers – Do The Math” can best be summed up with what he said to close his talk: “We are Community. Power to the people.”

Dr. Elliot Oborne delivers at speech at Delta College. PHOTO BY AUSTIN NORDYKE

After an introduction from James Forte, Osborne shared the story of his childhood friends Billy and Pete.

These two boys knew each other their entire lives, grew together, and risked their lives multiple times to protect each other from harm. Pete died in Billy’s arms while they served in the Armed Forces together.

It was not until Pete’s funeral Osborne learned of the Mexican heritage of his friend Pedro “Pete” Flores. Osborne used this tale to talk about how community and friendship can transcend racial barriers.

“We must find a reason to live rather than a reason to die,” said Osborne, noting another lesson to take away from the bond of Billy and Pete.

He then went on to talk about the Black Panthers. He said the media misrepresents this organization as a black separatist movement and that idea is far from the truth. Osborne said the cause of this group is protecting the dignity of all people.

The original name of this group was the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Osborne said he believes wholeheartedly in self defense, but advocates non violence whenever possible.

“There must be peace from strength, not peace from fear,” he said.

Near the end of the presentation, Osborne told the tale of his great grandmother and how she was taught to read and write by white people even though this was illegal at the time.

She would use this knowledge to educate many African Americans during the Reconstruction Era.

Osborne points out not all white people are evil, not all black people are saints, that we should avoid thinking in absolutes and that the media often shows us things through an inaccurate lens.

He advocates that we should demand the truth and people will follow a positive influence, but society often hampers these attempts.

“The focus of this presentation is about how we are all interconnected,” said Lisa Patton.

James Forte, who introduced Osborne to the crowd.

“The most important thing Dr. Osborne talked about was community education,” he said.