This article was more than just an event preview. Yes, it focused on a subject who was coming to lecture on campus for the Associated Students Social Issues Resource Center’s “Activism Week.” But it also took a close look at some of the socially-constructed issues that people face on a day-to-day basis and explored how students can overcome socially-constructed barriers. It became a profile about a person who empowered herself and was attempting to empower other people.
Huggins, who was a member of the Black Panther party for 14 years, a notable amount of time considering the party lasted for 16, became one of the leading members.
The story discussed the social issues Huggins felt were not accurately covered, or covered at all by the media during the time of the party’s existence. She was incarcerated for six months after the assassination of her husband and another member of the party. This powerful story outlined the way Huggins uses her experience to enlighten students and address social issues.
Ericka Huggins was a social-movement lecturer who came to campus to motivate students. But she was there for more than just motivational speaking. She hosted a workshop that was meant to give students the tools they needed to redefine themselves outside of the categories society uses to frame people, such as being a young student or not having power.
The workshop was also unique for Huggins, who typically does not speak informally. This made the event especially noteworthy.
It was a profile that invited readers to become part of the discussion about social constructs in our society.
An excerpt from the original story:
By Lauren Simmons. The story originally appeared in the Feb. 27 issue.
The celebration of African American history has expanded from a week in February, deemed “Negro History Week,” which started in 1926, to its current month-long celebration of “Black History Month.” Besides the well-known Black History Month figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, there are other untold stories and points of view.
During Black History Month, society tends to think of the social constructs that separate everyone, said Ericka Huggins, former member of the Black Panther party and professor. For example, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, ability and citizenship status are all socially constructed things that divide society, impacting lives and defining the quality of one’s life.
Huggins will visit Western to give a lecture as part of “Activism Week” put on by the Associated Students Social Issues Resource Center and the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center.
“In terms of activism on a college campus, I think the biggest challenge is fighting apathy and concepts similar to, ‘Oh, I can’t do this because I’m too young, I’m not powerful enough, I don’t have this position, I’m just a student,’”said Heather Siddiqui, AS SIRC assistant coordinator. “But [Huggins] did all that.”
Huggins’ lecture will focus on how society can move away from being defined by social constructs, and how to redefine oneself by way of one’s value, compassion and self-love, Huggins said.
While attending college outside of Philadelphia, Huggins left to join the Black Panther Party, a political group prevalent during the social reform movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“[It was] a human rights organization, not just a black organization, that had chapters throughout the United States and other parts of the world,” Huggins said. “It was an organization determined to bring about justice and peace for people who had been marginalized or oppressed.”
Huggins was a member from 1967 to 1981, and one of the women who joined and remained in the Black Panther Party the longest – 14 of the group’s 16 year existence.
Huggins is currently a professor in the Women and Gender Studies departments at San Francisco State University and California State University – East Bay, and also a professor of sociology at Laney College in Oakland. She has lectured across the United States. She previously lectured at Lewis and Clark College and Gonzaga University before coming to Western.