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Black Panther Party co-founder dies

R.I.P: Elbert Howard (Photo credit: AP)

ELBERT "BIG man" Howard, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, has died at age 80.

His wife, Carole Hyams, says Howard died Monday (Jul 23) in Santa Rosa, California, after a long illness.

According to Associated Press, friends and family described Howard as a “gentle giant” who could paint in words what a jazz song was saying. Howard was an author, volunteer jazz disc jockey, lecturer and activist in Sonoma County, where he later made his home.

Howard was born Jan 5, 1938, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as the only child of Emma and Anderson Howard. He joined the Air Force and was posted to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California.

The black icon was one of six founders of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in Oakland in October 1966, along with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. The political organisation started out patrolling police for possible abuse against blacks.

Key members quit in 1974 after years of fatal fights with police and each other. Howard quit the party in 1974, but in its active years, he served as editor of its newspaper and deputy minister of information.

After Howard left the party, he returned to Tennessee and worked as a sales manager, Jennings said. The friends got back in touch in the 1990s, and Howard became active in party reunions and events.

He is survived by his wife, daughter Tynisa Howard Wilson of Landover, Maryland, and grandsons Jaylen and Amin; stepson Robert Grimes of San Pablo, California, and three step-grandchildren.

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