By Kevin D Sawyer
San Quentin News Journalist
This week’s 50th Anniversary of the National Football League’s Super Bowl game pits the Carolina Panthers against the Denver Broncos. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party.
These two historical celebrations boast leading persons whose names are similar. Cam Newton is the leader and quarterback of the North Carolina Panthers. Huey Newton is the co-founder, along with Bobby Seale, of the Black Panther Party, which was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California.
Perhaps no one has taken notice of the symbolic meaning of these two events. Fifty years ago the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, led by Newton, was originally named and organized to “combat police violence in Negro neighborhoods.”
Meanwhile, today the same issues exist as we view the recent demonstrations and outrage over police killings and lawlessness.
As the world focuses on the 50th Super Bowl game, they will see the Carolina Panthers, led by Cam Newton, who is a prime candidate to be named as the league’s most valuable player for his offensive and bold skills, also boasts a strong defense.
How ironic. While Huey Newton is no longer with us, there is a symbolic reference to his bold legacy and the Black Panthers. It is the Carolina Panthers’ Black quarterback Cam Newton who bears some resemblance to Huey. He is also bold in his style of play.
For many, Black History has come full circle in the last 50 years, from the 1965 Watts riots to the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles after the verdict of the Rodney King police beating trial, to the Ferguson, Missouri police killing of Michael Brown.
Seemingly, from Newton to Newton, not much has changed.
Perhaps the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl will not do anything to remedy any of the wrongs of the past and present, but while sitting in a prison cell at San Quentin State Prison, the image of Cam Newton coming to the Bay Area with his Carolina Panthers will give me more of a reason to reflect on the symbolism this game represents.
Editor’s note: Post Publisher Paul Cobb has visited the San Quentin Newspaper staff and he sponsors their membership in the Society of Professional Journalists. Many of their writings have appeared in the Post News Group’s publications. Cobb spoke with the inmates about Black History, the Civil Rights movement and how he had attended elementary school with Mr. Newton and attended Black History classes with Newton and Seale at the Afro-American Association.
Kevin Sawyer, born in 1963, began focusing on writing 19 years ago while awaiting trial in jail. Some of his writings have been published.
Prior to incarceration, he worked 14 years for several telecommunications corporations. He has a B.A. Degree in Mass Communications from Cal State Hayward. He also has a diploma as a paralegal assistant from Blackstone Career Institute. He is a certified electrician through the National Center for Construction Education and Research and an accomplished guitar and piano player.