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January 17, marks the 38th anniversary of the assassinations of Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins at UCLA. Carter and Huggins were Black Panther Party leaders and student leaders there during 1968-69. For the first time, the Black students of UCLA along with community organizations will mark this tragedy and commemorate the lives of Carter and Huggins at an all-day event at UCLA, starting with an 11:00 a.m. memorial march from Bruin Hall to Campbell Hall. UCLA is located at 405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90095.
This First Annual Commemora-tion and Memorial will highlight the legacy of Carter and Huggins, and encourage students to find their potential through higher education, particularly at UCLA, as well as other campuses. Campbell Hall, where Carter and Huggins were assassinated, will be closed for regular business that entire day to honor their lives. Events of the day will include the march, memorial speeches by witnesses of that day, UCLA professors, student leaders, community leaders and organizers. There will be afternoon workshops in Campbell Hall and an evening program in Rolfe 1200. The event is sponsored by UCLA’s Afrikan Student Union, the Building Communities and Families (BCF) organization, and UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program (AAP).
Carter and Huggins attended UCLA during the first year of an experimental, model project called the High Potential Program, created to encourage enrollment of Black students, particularly from the ghetto areas of Los Angeles. The respect they enjoyed as Black Panther Party leaders in that explosive era and the work they did on campus inspired students in the Program as well as in the newly-formed Black Student Union to merge the interests of Black students and the Black community and act to serve those interests both on campus and in the community. As a result, Black students began to engage in student empowerment and self-determination.
At the time Carter and Huggins were gunned down at Campbell Hall on January 17, 1969, hundreds of Black students were there meeting to determine for themselves the formation and development of a Black Studies program at UCLA. In the wake of their deaths, Black students mourned the loss but went forward and established the Black Studies Program, and the Black Student Union began to build relations with the community and worked to increase the enrollment of Black, Brown and other students from oppressed communities.
Ironically, in the years since, Black student enrollment at UCLA has fallen, so that, in 2006, only 96 Black students, or less than two percent of the entering class, were enrolled as freshmen at UCLA, representing an all-time low. The Memorial will emphasize the need to resurrect the spirit of student empowerment and self-determination and the other ideals for which Bunchy Carter and John Huggins lived and died.