Ericka Huggins is a human rights activist, poet, professor, and former Black Panther leader and political prisoner. For the past 25 years, she has lectured throughout the United States, where her extraordinary life experiences have enabled her to speak personally and eloquently on issues relating to the physical and emotional well-being of women and children, youth, education, incarceration, and the role of the spiritual practice in sustaining activism and promoting change.
As a result of her 14-year tenure as a leader of the Black Panther Party (the longest of any woman in leadership), she brings a unique, complete and honest perspective to the much debated challenges and successes of the Black Panther Party and its significance today.
Currently Huggins is a Women’s Studies professor and brings her legacy of social justice and spiritual activism to her lectures and teachings.
Huggins’ political activism began in 1963, when she attended the March on Washington and committed to moving from the sidelines to the frontlines in the global human rights movement. In 1969, at age 18, she became a leader in the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party with her husband John Huggins. Three weeks after the birth of their daughter, John Huggins was killed and Huggins was widowed. After returning her husband’s body to New Haven, Connecticut, Ericka opened a Panther chapter there.
From 1973-1981, Huggins was Director of the Oakland Community School, a groundbreaking community-run child development center and elementary school founded by the Black Panther Party. She created the vision for the innovative curriculum for the school, which became a model for and predecessor to the charter school movement. In 1976, Huggins became both the first woman and the first Black person to be appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education.