Her Story: Ericka Huggins

Her Story: Ericka Huggins

Ericka Huggins is an educator, human rights activist, political prisoner, and a former leader of the Black Panther Party for 14 years, the longest of any woman. 

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1948, Huggins was the middle child of three. She graduated from high school in 1966 and went on to get a Masters in Sociology. Huggins attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, it was here that she became inspired to dedicate her life to serving humanity. She joined the Black Panther Party at age 18 and quickly became a leader. Huggins married and had a child, within three months of the birth of her daughter, Huggins became a widow when her husband was murdered.

In May 1969, Huggins and a fellow party member were arrested on conspiracy charges. She was forced to live in solitary confinement while she awaited trial. She taught herself to meditate to survive, these skills became part of her spiritual practice and she has dedicated much of her life to teaching these skills to others. Ericka Huggins was ultimately acquitted of all charges. 

From 1973-1981, Huggins was appointed as the director of the Oakland Community School. The school was founded by the Black Panther Party as a community-run child development center and elementary school. Her innovative curriculum became the model for the charter school movement. In 1976, Huggins became the first woman and the first Black person to be appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education. 

Huggins has lectured throughout the United States and abroad for the past 30+ years, sharing her experiences and advocating for restorative justice, innovative education, the well-being of women and children, activism and social change. She as championed programs for minority and marginalized populations through her work with the Shanti Project and the Aids Project of Contra Costa County. Ericka Huggins is a living legacy of activism and social justice, She is still making history.

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About The Author


Mother, Photographer, Wisecracker.... not necessarily in that order.

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