Dem Congressional Candidate Expressed Admiration for Radical Black Panther Activists

Lisa Brown also listed communists and anarchists as inspirations

Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown / Twitter


Democratic congressional candidate Lisa Brown said during a 1983 speech that her "moral education" came from two radical members of the Black Panthers, according to audio of the speech obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Brown, at the time a Ph.D. candidate, was giving a speech at Whitworth University, entitled "The Moral Case Against Reaganomics." She said the lessons she learned during her studies of Stokely Carmichael and Eldridge Cleaver, two prominent members of the Black Panthers, were "more important" to her than the formal moral education she received growing up.

"My own formal moral education came from my parents and the Catholic Church, but what I consider even more important, were the moral lessons I learned when I went away to college at the University of Illinois," Brown said during the speech, which can be heard in full below.

"I learned a lot from studying the civil rights movement of the United States, from Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael and Eldridge Cleaver," Brown continued. "All in their own unique ways, I learned that the United States had failed in living up to the ideals that I had learned about in my high school history classes."

A leader in the Black Panther Party, Cleaver was described in a 1998 New York Times obituary as "a symbol of black rebellion in the turbulent 1960's." In 1968, Cleaver was involved in a shootout between the Black Panthers and police in which he and two police officers were wounded. Cleaver jumped bail and fled first to Cuba, then to Algeria.

In a prison memoir, Cleaver wrote about raping women:

I became a rapist. To refine my technique and modus operandi, I started out by practicing on black girls in the ghetto—in the black ghetto where dark and vicious deeds appear not as aberrations or deviations from the norm, but as part of the sufficiency of the Evil of the day—and when I considered myself smooth enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey…. Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man's law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women—and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman. I felt I was getting revenge.

Cleaver added that he would have "slit some white throats" if he had not been apprehended. He writes that he realized he "had gone astray" during his time in prison, "astray not so much from the white man's law as from being human, civilized—for I could not approve the act of rape."

Cleaver's political thought was influenced by far-left thinkers, including Marx and Lenin. After fleeing the United States, he "toured Communist countries triumphantly, hailing Kim Il Sung of North Korea, among others," although he ultimately became disillusioned with Communist leaders and with the Black Panthers.

Carmichael coined the term "Black Power," once telling an audience, "When you talk of black power, you talk of building a movement that will smash everything western civilization has created." According to Charles Hamilton, who co-authored the book Black Power with Carmichael, "as civil unrest flared in Detroit and Newark, Mr. Carmichael's call became associated, as Mr. Hamilton put it, ‘with riots and guns and ‘burn, baby, burn.""

In 1967, he became honorary prime minister of the Black Panthers, but quickly found himself in conflict with other Panther leaders "for opposing their decision to seek support among whites. He moved to Guinea, in West Africa, in 1969, saying, ‘America does not belong to the blacks,' and calling on all black Americans to follow his example."

Soon after moving to Africa, he released a letter "announcing his resignation from the Black Panther Party because of what he called ‘its dogmatic party line favoring alliances with white radicals.'"

In the mid-1960s, he spoke in countries such as North Vietnam, China, and Cuba, once telling an audience in Havana, Cuba, "We are preparing groups of urban guerrillas for our defense in the cities," adding, "It is going to be a fight to the death."

Carmichael spent most of the final three decades of his life in Guinea, "calling himself a revolutionary and advocating a Pan-African ideology" and befriending Ahmed Sekou Toure, the socialist president of Guinea. Carmichael never publicly criticized Toure, despite the fact he was known to jail and torture opponents.

Earlier this month, the Washington Examiner reported that Brown named 20th-century communists and anarchists as inspirations in her 1986 Ph.D. thesis. "As a feminist … I am also inspired by great women activists, such as Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Emma Goldman," she wrote.

Flynn became chairwoman of the U.S. Communist Party in 1961 and argued capitalism was incompatible with "human welfare." A 1917 New York Times article described Goldman as one of the "two most notorious anarchists in the United States."

Elsewhere in Brown's speech, she suggested the audience read a book called Economic Democracy, which one academic journal described as "a major work on the prospects for socialism in the U.S."

Brown is running against House Republican Conference chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She is one of 39 candidates endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC.

Update 7:19 p.m.: Following publication of this article, a Brown campaign spokesperson referred the Free Beacon to a statement it issued in response to a prior article, accusing her opponents of trying to divert voters' attention from issues that matter.

Jeffrey Cimmino

Jeffrey Cimmino   Email Jeffrey | Full Bio | RSS
Jeff Cimmino is a media analyst at the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2019. Prior to working at the Free Beacon, he interned at National Review and the Foreign Policy Initiative.

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