History and mission of the Original Black Panthers of Milwaukee
The Black Panther Party is a notorious group with a robust history that includes a chapter here in Milwaukee. It first started operating in the 1960s but disbanded in the 1980s. The group reformed here in Milwaukee about seven years ago and continues to fight racism and uplift the community.
When the group reformed in Milwaukee, Darryl “King Rick” Farmer II became the leader, and since then he has worked to make the group a positive and protective force for Black people in Milwaukee.
“For the last seven years we’ve been involved in a lot of things, we patrol our community, we shut down businesses that are a detriment…and in the last two years, along with the Brown Berets, we’ve probably fed about 30,000 people,” says Farmer.
As for why the Original Black Panthers decided to reform, Farmer says it was largely in response to how Black people were being treated in Milwaukee.
Farmer explains that he, and people like him, could no longer endure the current state of Milwaukee. He adds that some people may feel okay with the segregation and racism he sees in Milwaukee but he isn't.
“Milwaukee is the most racist and hyper segregated city in America and nobody seems to care, they are comfortable with the dynamics of Milwaukee,” says Farmer. “That’s why there is so much crime, drama, violence in Milwaukee because the powers that be don’t truly care.”
Farmer has used the Original Black Panthers organization to provide essentials to the community.
Whether it's providing food for mothers who have lost a child, school supplies for kids who might not have them or new shoes for kids affected by violence, Farmer’s philosophy is simple — spread positivity.
“I'm here to take care of the community, when I say the community I mean the community as a whole it doesn’t matter what race, creed, color you are. If you are hurting so am I, if you are hungry so am I,” says Farmer.
Farmer says he is aware that the Original Black Panthers may have a fragmented reputation, but he says he and the group are not about violence. They are simply seeking to protect black Milwakeeans and improve the living conditions in Milwaukee.
“You can’t fight racism with racism, you can’t fight hate with hate,” says Farmer. “But what you can do is you can bring light to it and whether people choose to believe it or not, those who don’t believe it’s a problem are the problem.”