University of California Los Angeles–The story of Bunchy Carter and John Huggins is a strangely intertwined story of South Central, UCLA and the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party. It is a story that is not as widely publicized, celebrated or talked about in history or even in the Black community as it should be.
1969, John Huggins and Bunchy Carter were students at UCLA selected to attend the university through the newly constructed High Potential Program.
The High Potential Program was designed to bridge the gap between the representation of Black students and other minorities on campus. During the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960’s, students on college campuses were also organizing to ensure greater access for minorities and the inclusion of ethnic curriculums.
UCLA’s response to student activism was the High Potential Program. Candidates were accepted through special admissions and presented with specialized curriculums to meet their educational goals.
During the time of their admittance to UCLA, both Carter & Huggins were members of the Los Angeles based Southern Chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Bunchy was the leader of the Los Angeles based Panther’s and also a well known figure in South Central. One of his nicknames was “mayor of the ghetto.”
After a meeting January 17, 1969, Huggins and Carter were killed in UCLA’s Cambell Hall. The shooters were identified as two brothers from another Black nationalist group at UCLA. The leader of that group at the time was Ron Karenga, who is also the founder of Kwanza.
Student organizations such as The Afrikan Student Union, as well as faculty of the Academic Advancement Program, continue to honor the lives of their fellow Bruins and the spirit of student activism every year at UCLA.
Gregory Everett hosted a film screening and Q&A at Cambell Hall Wednesday evening. The screening marked one of three days scheduled to commemorate the lives of Huggins and Bunchy.
Together with his wife, Everett produced the documentary “41st and Central,” the story of the Los Angeles Black Panther Party. The film has interviews from former L.A BPP members including Elaine Brown, Bunchy Carter’s brother, and Geronimo Pratt, who is a Vietnam war veteran and Tupac’s godfather.
During the three days of events there was a panel discussion on student activism, a vigil, as well as a keynote speech from a former L.A BPP member and artist.
During Q & A students praised Everett for the project and inquired on the process that it took to make the documentary. He detailed a journey of meeting the elders and having the determination of capturing and telling their lived experiences.
“You have a smart phone don’t you? Interview the elders in your community, you never know what stories you’ll get.”