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Black pride, joy, and love radiate from West Oakland again due to the vision of three women: Jilchristina "Jil" Vest, Lisbet Tellefsen, and Ericka Huggins.
The trio unveiled a 30-foot mural depicting the Women of the Black Panther Party working in the Panthers’ more than 60 community programs on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2021. Women made up 70% of the Black Panther Party yet remained largely invisible. Honoring the women, 260 Panther women’s names were painted on the four panels of the two-story house face out onto Center Street and Dr. Huey P. Newton Way.
Vest, who owns the house, anticipates adding more names as more women are discovered.
The Mini Black Panther Party Museum opened six months later inside the first-floor apartment on Juneteenth, June 19, 2021.
Who are these women who created the mural and museum? What was the Black Panther Party? Why was it important for them to honor Panther women in response to the violence against Black people and the outrage displayed at Black Lives Matter movement demonstrations during the summer of 2020?
Jilchristina VestCourtesy of Jilchristina Vest
Jilchristina "Jil" Vest, visionary and curator
Vest was inspired to create the mural and the museum by the #SayHerName campaign and the murder of George Floyd at the knee of police officer former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Rage and calls for change formed much of the messages throughout the summer of 2020. Vest, unsettled by Floyd’s murder, was even more disturbed by the silence surrounding the police murder of Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot by police while she slept in her own bed. The police entered her home on a no-knock warrant in Louisville, Kentucky in March 2020, two and a half months before the public outcry over Floyd's killing. The response was silence, not the outrage that erupted following Floyd’s murder captured on video that went viral.
Feeling a lot of grief and rage, the former music industry professional meditated on how to bring balance and joy back into her life.
"I said, 'I need to find something that's going to make me feel joyful, to make me feel seen, and to make me feel heard,'" recalled the lifelong Black queer activist sitting in her house in the heart of the neighborhood where the Black Panther Party took root for more than 15 years.
Vest admired the murals created memorializing Floyd, Taylor, and many other Black lives lost to police brutality. She pondered how her voice of protest could be heard and how she could demonstrate in a way she was comfortable.
The answer came to her after a walk in downtown Oakland. When she returned home and looked up at her house on the corner of Center Street and Dr. Huey P. Newton Way – the very corner where Panthers’ co-founder Newton was fatally shot.
“I am going to put a mural on my house and it's not going to be anything about what has been done to us. It is going to be about ... what it looks like [when] ... we do for ourselves," Vest said.
She decided to honor the Panthers women who remained invisible for 55 years.
Vest was born in Chicago in 1966 the same year that the Panthers came into existence. She moved to Oakland in 1986 when she was 19-years old, four years after the Panthers dissolved. She earned degrees in Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and Multicultural Education from San Francisco State University and San Francisco University and then went on to have careers in the nonprofit community and music industry. It felt right to her to honor the women of the party, she said.
The idea for the museum came while Oakland muralist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith was painting the mural and after Vest’s tenants on the first floor of the house moved out right before the mural’s unveiling. Vest lives on the second floor of the house.
The Mini Black Panther Museum curator Lisbet Tellefsen, left, and one of the original Panther leaders Ericka Huggins, right, sitting inside the museum honoring the Panthers’ legacy.Heather Cassell
Lisbet Tellefsen, curator
A Bay Area native, Tellefsen, a Black lesbian, is a community archivist, collector, and curator. For decades, she has collected Black Panther memorabilia, particularly about Panther women, Angela Davis, and Black LGBTQ culture and political graphics.
She’s curated her archive material for exhibitions, films, media projects, and research, including contributing to the Oakland Museum of California’s successful “All Power To The People: Black Panthers at 50” exhibit. The exhibit commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Panthers’ founding in 2016.
Huggins, who is Tellefsen’s partner of 16 years, was on the community committee that helped bring the commemorative show to Oakland’s museum. Her requirement for participating was Panther women would be seen and it became one of the most popular shows in the exhibit.
Fania Davis Jordan originally commissioned Tellefsen to create the 16 Black Panther Party pop-up panels for a three-day exhibition for a restorative justice conference in 2016 at the Oakland Marriott City Center. The exhibit providing an overview of the Panthers was tied to commemorating the Panthers' 50th anniversary.
Davis Jordan’s sister is Black lesbian activist Angela Davis, one of the more prominent female members of the Black Panthers.
Black Panther Party Berkeley chapter leader Cheryl Dawson, center, pointing at her name on the mural honoring the women of the party. Museum curator Lisbet Tellefsen, left, stands next to Dawson and one of the original Panther leaders Ericka Huggins, stands appreciating the moment in the background.Ericka Huggins
Ericka Huggins, mentor
Huggins was a leading member of the Black Panther Party for 14 years. She joined the Panthers when she was 18-years old in 1968. She was the director of the Oakland Community School (1973-1981), founded by the Panthers. She became the first Black person to be appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education during her tenure at the school.
At 13-years old, Huggins, a lesbian, was inspired to commit her life to service at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She did just that, even losing her husband, John Huggins, a fellow Panther, who was murdered leaving her a young, widowed mother and herself being a political prisoner imprisoned for being a Panther. Huggins has been at the forefront of nearly every major movement – HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, education inside and outside jails and prisons – in the latter half of the 20th century. She continues to speak widely about the Panthers and the causes she’s worked on throughout her life.
Black Panther Land
West Oakland plays a significant role in America’s civil rights movement. In 1966, the Black Panther Party took root and birthed the Black Power Movement calling for racial justice and ending police brutality. Members created innovative community programs that sprouted from the community’s needs. The Panthers dissolved in 1982.
The Panthers were more than “angry Black men with guns who had good fashion sense” said Tellefsen.
Last year's award-winning film, "Judas and the Black Messiah," told the story of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Black Panther Party's Illinois chapter.
Tellefsen noted that the good things the Panthers did and the movement’s impact on many government programs today, such as First 5, get lost in “historical laziness,” she said.
“The Black Panther Party dismisses the notion that we were ‘militant.’ That is not how we would describe ourselves,” Huggins added about the mythology that has grown around the Panthers due to government and media characterization of the movement that has persisted through the decades.
“We were always doing something in service to people,” she said about the Panthers’ mission and creation of the community survival programs. “We knew that we had to be in service to people and their survival pending revolution.
“They were protecting oppressed people from the oppressor,” Vest said about the Panthers’ inclusive coalitions and programs.
The mural honoring the women of the Black Panther Party in West Oakland, CaliforniaHeather Cassell
The Mural and Museum
Vest’s vision for the mural was to convey joy and pride and make Panther women visible by putting 30-foot-tall Black women on the side of her house, “without anybody’s permission and take up as much space as I wanted,” she said
“We wanted people to look at the mural and stand stronger, stand taller, [and] put your shoulders back and say, ‘Those are my people. Those are my ancestors,’” she said.
Vest’s vision for the museum was to showcase the Panthers, especially Panther women, and take control of the narrative.
“My key motivations around the mural and the museum are to … control the narrative, not only of Oakland but the Black Panther Party,” Vest said pointing out that the mural and museum show the Panther’s women and their mission of humanitarianism.
It appears to be working. The mural and museum have attracted 1,000s of people to Vest’s corner of West Oakland.
The panels Tellefsen created for Davis Jordan six years ago are finally living her original vision to create portable banners so the exhibit could have an afterlife after the conference, she said. She was glad to take the panels out of storage and put them to use in their new permanent home at the museum.
Inside the Mini Black Panther Party Museum in West Oakland, California.Heather Cassell
The museum just added another facet deepening the project’s significance. Panther women are front and center in the museum.
“I've seen Black woman get out of their cars and look up at the mural and just start weeping,” she said about their tears of joy and relief to finally be seen.
The mural and exhibit have become a “sacred space” for visitors.
“People tell us they feel like it is a sacred space to them,” Huggins said. “They also say that the things that they learned reading the banners and the captions from the photographs or the pages from the party newspaper are that it isn’t what they were taught.
“We all need healing. We are all broken. We are all hurting for [a] variety of reasons,” Vest added. “I knew that this would heal a multitude of people, men and women, Black and white, young and old.”
The Panther’s legacy is being carried on and celebrated today by what started as the West Oakland Mural Project. The project has recreated some of its programs, such as delivering free bags of groceries to the community at special events.
Visitors can expect to see the mural first before they walk into the museum inside the first apartment in the house. They can walk one block away from the mural and museum to see Newton’s bust created by sculptor Dana King and placed at Mandela Parkway and Dr. Huey P. Newton Way in October 2021.
Healthcare is a hot topic for many Americans. No matter your stance on it, most of us can agree that it’s not easy for everyone to access affordable medical care. If you’re in the LGBTQ+ community, you might face another obstacle – discrimination.
It can be hard to believe you would be discriminated against or even turned away based on your sexual identity, but it does happen like so many other injustices in this world. If you already have a healthcare provider you like and trust, you might be worried about coming out to them.
Will they treat you differently? Will your care be compromised?
Let’s cover some of the common barriers people within the community can face in the healthcare industry, why your doctor should know if you’re LGBTQ+, and what to look for in a provider that won’t discriminate.
What Challenges Do LGBTQ+ People Face in Healthcare?
There are a variety of underserved populations in healthcare, including minorities and those in traditionally underserved or poverty-stricken communities. Those in the LGBTQ+ population are often underserved because of discrimination. Think it doesn’t exist? Consider some of these staggering statistics from a 2017 national survey:
- 8% of respondents said a healthcare provider refused to see them because of their sexual orientation.
- 6% said a doctor refused to provide them with care.
- 9% said a healthcare provider used abusive or harsh language while treating them.
- 7% said they received unwanted physical contact from their healthcare provider.
It should come as no surprise, then, that fewer LGBTQ+ are getting the healthcare they deserve. These statistics are more than numbers. They are people. They are stories. If someone you know had a negative experience with their doctor and told you about it, you’d be less likely to go. Maybe you even had a bad experience yourself, and have never trusted the medical industry again.
Several things need to be done to serve the LGBTQ+ community better, including:
- Federal initiatives
- Smart devices that make it easier to access public health care
- Education on inclusivity within the medical field
Unfortunately, it will take time for this kind of reform and restructuring to happen within the healthcare industry. In the meantime, what can you do to get the care you deserve, whether it's from your current doctor or someone new?
Why You Should Talk to Your Doctor
Building up a trusting relationship with a healthcare provider can take some time. Maybe you’ve been working with your doctor for years, and you trust their medical knowledge and like their personality.
However, maybe they don’t know your gender identity or sexual orientation. Maybe you’ve thought about telling them in the past but have been worried about discrimination.
While it’s always a risk, it’s important to come out to your doctor for medical purposes, if nothing else. Certain health issues affect higher proportions of the LGBTQ+ community, including:
- Mental health issues
- Sexual assault
HIV is still a problem among members of the community, too. According to a 2010 study by the CDC, 63% of new HIV infections impacted men who had sex with other men.From a mental health standpoint, telling your doctor can be both freeing and can get you the help you need. It’s not uncommon for those in the community to experience extra stress, anxiety, and depression due to discrimination and constant worry. Because LGBTQ+ people are also at a greater risk of sexual violence, finding the right mental health treatment for the aftermath is crucial. Medical attention is needed to document evidence and identify any injuries or long-term risks, as well as to set up a mental health treatment plan that will help you process what happened.
Finding the Right Healthcare Provider
Whether you’ve experienced discrimination from your doctor or you want a clean slate in a place that will give you the care you deserve, there are a few things to look for in an LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare environment.
- First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Shop around, and set up consultations with providers you’re interested in. Ask them about their experience with the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll get a lot of information from that answer, and can probably trust your “gut” with whether they’re comfortable or not.
- You should also do your research. Seek both online and offline resources for LGBTQ+-friendly physicians in your area. Read reviews, look for doctors who offer a safe and inclusive practice for everyone, and consider asking your friends about their personal experiences and where they go. Thankfully, despite the obstacles you might face in finding a doctor, it’s not impossible. Even if you live in a rural area or far away from a doctor who is willing to give you proper care, nowadays, it’s easier than ever to connect with the right provider.
- If you can’t find someone nearby, consider choosing telehealth services for your general well-being and for regular checkups. While they can’t cover everything, it can help to have a physician in your corner who you trust, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. Don’t let discrimination in the healthcare industry get you down. With a little bit of time, research, and doctor-shopping, you can find a provider who will give you care without judgment.
The weather is warming up, and that means it’s grilling time. It's time to invite friends over and fire up the grill. If you are new to grilling, it's best to start with the basics, and a charcoal grill is a perfect place to start.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, it's important to learn about the type of charcoal grill you have. Ensure everything is in working order and familiarize yourself with the air vents on the grill because these help you control the heat. If you are looking to buy one, you will need to consider which size is best for your needs. We recommend buying one with an ash container for easy cleanup. Charcoal grills come in different shapes and sizes, and the price range starts at around $100 and can go up from there.
Once you have your grill set up, you will need a couple of things.
- Chimney starter (optional)
- Grilling tongs
- Pumice stone for cleaning the grill grate
- Heat resistant gloves
Choose Your Charcoal
Charcoal briquettes are the classic choicePhoto by Amin Hasani on Unsplash
Charcoal grills, of course, use charcoal as fuel, and there are two types of charcoal you can use. Charcoal briquettes are the most affordable option. You can find them in any supermarket in a big bag. They create consistent heat and burn for an extended time. While they are inexpensive, they don't add much smoky flavor and the slow burn creates a lot of ash.
Hardwood charcoal is the more expensive option, but worth it if you love the smoky taste of grilled food. This type of charcoal burns quickly and leaves little ash for easy clean-up. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use both charcoals together.
Before you get started, you will want to make sure you have enough charcoal. The amount of charcoal needed depends on how much you are planning to cook and for how long. A rough estimate is if you are cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken for a group, 4.5 to 5 pounds of charcoal is best. If you are cooking for 2-3 people, then 2.5 pounds of charcoal should be enough. And, if you are grilling a long-cooking cut of meat or using your grill as a smoker with lower heat but for an extended time then 2 pounds of charcoal is fine.
Light the Grill
Waiting for the grill to heat up is hard when you are hungry.Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
There are a few ways to get your grill fired up. The most traditional way is to arrange the charcoal in a small pile on the grill and spray some lighter fluid on the charcoal. Always read the instructions on the bottle for the exact amount of fluid to use. Using too much lighter fluid can affect the flavor of your food. Give the charcoal a minute to absorb the fluid, then light the charcoal with a utility lighter. Once the charcoal is lit, resist the temptation to add more lighter fluid, it's dangerous, and it will be difficult to control the flame.
If you prefer not to use lighter fluid, you can use a chimney starter. Chimney starters are available at any hardware store, and if you grill frequently, they are a great investment. Using a chimney starter is the fastest way to get your charcoal piping hot. Some starters have a place to add either newspaper or fire starter cubes. Follow the instructions, add the charcoal to the starter, and light from there. Once hot, pour onto the grill. Use heat-resistant gloves for safety.
For tech lovers, there is also an electric charcoal starter. Just place the charcoal on the grill and touch the electric starter to the charcoal until it lights.
Another option to light the charcoal is a strike-able fire starter. They are like a large match that you can place in the middle of the charcoal to get the coals going.
However, you get your charcoal started, you will need to wait for your grill to heat up before you start cooking. It can take around 15- 20 minutes to get hot enough to cook your food. Most charcoal grills have a built-in thermometer to help you know when it reaches grilling temperature which is anywhere between 350 to 450 F. While your grill is heating up, you can prepare the grill grate.
Prepare the Grill Grate
Oil up the grill grate to keep juices meats from sticking.Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
You should always start with a clean grill. While you don't need to deep clean the entire grill after each use, you should clean the grill grate before and after each use. Use a pumice stone made for grills to clean your grill grates. There are wire brushes on the market for this, too, but there have been cases of metal bristles breaking off and getting stuck on the grill and then sticking to food, so stick with a pumice cleaner.
Once the grate is clean, brush some oil on the grate to keep food from sticking. Save your olive oil for your salad. Instead, use a high heat oil like vegetable or canola.
Arrange Coals for Effective Cooking
Sear some steaks for the perfect grill marks.Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash
Once the charcoal has heated up, you can use your grilling tongs to arrange the coals. Charcoal placement is key to coking with charcoal. As a general rule, you will want to have two cooking areas on your grill—one for direct heat to sear and one for indirect heat for foods that require longer cooking time. Searing is good for steaks, while indirect heat is better for meat on the bone and roasts.
Another option is to use grilling planks on the charcoal grill. Grilling planks are pieces of wood like cedar or alder that you can cook food on rather than placing the food straight on the grill. Soaking the planks in water for an hour prior to grilling ensures they won't burn. Then, place meats, fish, or vegetables on the plank for a smoky dish.
Cleaning Up the Grill After Use
Properly caring for a charcoal grill extends its life.Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
When your last burger has been flipped, and it's time to turn off the grill, just close the vents and put the lid on the grill. Without air to fuel the fire, it will gradually burn out. This can take up to 48 hours for it to completely cool and be safe enough to remove the coal and ashes.
If you are in a hurry you can use your tongs and pull out each charcoal brisket and place it in a metal bucket filled with water. Scoop the hot ash into a metal container to let it cool. Never pour water onto a charcoal grill as it can damage the grill and leave a sludge that you will have to clean later. Plus, water directly on hot coals creates dangerous steam that can burn anyone near the grill.
When your charcoal grill is cooled and cleaned, it's ready to be stored for next time. While charcoal grills are sturdy and can be left outside, if you live in a colder climate you will want to ensure it is protected from the elements to extend the life of the grill.
Tips and Tricks for Charcoal Grills
- Resist the temptation to flip your food too much
- Control the heat by using the vents and lid
- Keep the heat around 350° F for most foods or 450° F for searing
- Add a handful of wood chips like hickory or mesquite to the coals for more flavor
Traveling and camping in an RV has many advantages and essentially allows you to have a home away from home, from county campgrounds to the remotest of locations. But those with RVs know that preparing for a trip can be quite stressful. There are countless items to remember to pack. That is why we have put together the perfect list of RVing essentials. Check out this list before your next adventure to make sure nothing gets left behind.
RV Specific Items
What you need for the RVPhoto by Kojiro Inui on Unsplash
- Roadside emergency kit
- Sewer kit
- Extra motor oil and transmission fluids
- Surge protector
- Electrical adapters
- Water pressure regulator
- Drinking water hose
- Leveling blocks
- Tire pressure gauge
- Extension cords
- Wheel chocks
- Duct tape
- Battery jumper cables
- Fire extinguisher
- RV documents (registration, insurance, etc.)
Kitchen and Food
What to cook while RVingPhoto by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash
- Potable water
- Water bottles
- Food storage containers
- Food and beverages
- Cooler and extra ice
- Plates, cups, bowls
- Cooking utensils
- Eating utensils
- Paper Towels
- Dish soap
- Sponge or scrubber
- Grill for outdoor cooking (optional)
- Can and bottle opener
- Pots and pans
- Coffee pot and/or tea kettle
What blankets to bring while RVingPhoto by Jordan Bigelow on Unsplash
- Sheets, blankets, and comforters
- Pillows and pillow cases
- Extra cots or air mattresses as needed
- Air pump if needed
Toiletries for the RV
Toiletry essentials for RVingPhoto by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
- Soap (face and body)
- Hand soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toilet paper
- First aid kit
- Tampons/sanitary products
- Bath towels
- Shoes to shower in (if using campground facilities)
- Solar shower (If RV doesn't have a shower/bath)
- Bug spray
Personal Items Needed While RVing
Taking your personal items on your RV adventurePhoto by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash
- Phone and phone charger
- Laptop or tablet and charger
- Wallet with ID and credit/debit cards
- Campsite reservation information
- Eyeglasses and sunglasses
Clothing and Footwear Needed for RVing
What clothes do you need when you go RVing?Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash
- Moisture-wicking shirts
- Moisture-wicking pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Down or fleece jacket
- Rain jacket
- Rain pants
- Hiking boots or sneakers
- Sandals or flip flops
- Winter/snow gear depending on the season
What else will we need for Rving?Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash
- Extra batteries
- Cleaning supplies
- Portable charging bank or solar charger
- Firewood and fire starter (If fires are permitted at your campsite)
- Books and/or games
- Dog gear if bringing your four-legged pals
- Dry bags or plastic bins to store items
- Backpack or hiking pack
- Hiking, fishing, kayaking, or other gear for activities
- Outdoor rug
- Patio furniture (chairs, tables, etc.)
- Pop-up tent (if RV doesn't have an awning)
Enjoy Your Trip
You've gone through your checklist and have inspected your RV to make sure everything is up to standard and in working order. Now it's time to decide where you are going to set up camp and hit the road! There are many more logistics to deal with when RV camping compared to car camping, but with the right preliminary preparation, you can relax knowing everything is in place for the perfect RVing experience.