A New Chief in Town: David Hilliard

Breakfast Program, Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

In 1969, the Breakfast Program was in full swing and spreading all over the country. However, that summer Bobby Seale went to prison, leaving David Hilliard, chief of staff of the party, as the leader of the National Program. David was born in 1942 in Rockville, Alabama as the youngest of 12 children in a poor family.  He was drawn to the BPP because it was more active than MLK’s non-violent approach. David was quoted as saying “The passivity of the civil rights demonstrators contradicts my family’s most fundamental belief: you don’t stand idly by and be kicked, you fight for yourself.” After moving to Oakland at age 11, David quickly became lifelong friends with an elementary school classmate, Huey Newton. While always following the lead of Newton and avoiding militant conflicts, David was devoted to the community building side of the BPP. Because of David’s strong work ethic, sense of community, and great communication skills, the Breakfast Program flourished under his leadership and the BPP branched out into many other community programs, including free health clinics and a free shoe program.

  1. Joshua Bloom and Martin E. Waldo, Black against empire: the history and politics of the Black Panther Party (Oakland: U of California Press, 2016), accessed March 16, 2017. Print.
  2. Bloom and E. Waldo, Black against empire

Other images related to this post

David Hilliard

( Picture: David Hilliard, SF Chronicle)

National Geographic

Public Broadcast Service (PBS)

Chicago Tribute

San Francisco Chronicle



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