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Before there was Black Lives Matter, there was the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. And there was Aaron Dixon.

In 1968, in Seattle, Wash., at the personal direction of party founders Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, Dixon—then just 19—formed the first Black Panther Party chapter outside California.

In that role, he and his fellow Panthers were able to turn their Panther chapter into a center of militant Black activism and community service. They founded a free medical clinic that still operates today, started the city’s first free food bank, founded five breakfast programs for school children, free legal services, and all the while continued the national battle against the Vietnam War, against police brutality, and for Black power.

On Aug. 12, he brought that history of activism to the Community Empowerment Association’s Black Family Reunion, joining in panel discussions and arguing against the institutionalized racism he sees permeating every element of American society.

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