Last modified on 9 November 2012, at 07:42

Category:Black Panther Trial Sketches

These drawings and sketches are by Robert Clark Templeton (1929-1991), an artist known for painting portraits of Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, as well as leaders of the civil rights movement.

On May 21st, 1969, police found the body of 19-year-old Alex Rackley on a riverbank in Middlefield, CT. Rackley was a member of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary Black Nationalist organization founded in 1966 in California. At the time of Rackleys murder, the organization had several thousand members operating in regional chapters in major American cities; the Panthers growth and their call for violent action against racist institutions made the Party a subject of investigations by local and federal law enforcement agencies. A victim of the resulting paranoia among some Party members, Alex Rackley was murdered by fellow Panthers who suspected him of being an informant.

The state charged Bobby Seale, founder and national chairman of the Black Panther Party, and Ericka Huggins, head of the Party's New Haven chapter, with conspiracy to kidnap and murder Rackley; the prosecutors sought the death penalty. Many speculate that the charges against Seale and Huggins, neither of whom was present during the commission of the murder, were issued in an effort to destroy the Party.

On May Day, 1970, some 15,000 Panther Party members and their supporters came to New Haven to protest the trial. Yale opened its gates to the crowds, and many students joined the protest. The trial lasted for many months and after five days of deliberation, the jury deadlocked and the case was declared a mistrial.