“Fight for What You Believe:” James Henson brings the Young Black Panther Party to Lansing

LANSING, me. –

While some children viewed Superman and Batman as heroes, James Henson adored the Black Panthers

Not the cartoon character Black Panther, but members of the militant group Black from the 1960s such as Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.

After the death of George Floyd, 22-year-old Henson decided to start the Young Black Panther Party in Lansing.

“There are a lot of people in the community who don’t know who the Black Panthers are or are, and I want to bring that hope into them,” Henson said.

The original Black Panther Party was founded in Seale and Newton in 1966. The group focused on black power and self-defense. Henson’s group too.

Henson wanted to give hope to young blacks in his community and teach them how to protect themselves. On Saturdays he teaches martial arts on the river path.

We have to build, we have to do everything to flourish, to survive, “he said.

Community members support Henson, Leo Brown, a Mo-Cuts barber, who said the Young Black Panther set the standard. “These kids really need to know about these days and the unity we used to have for our church. You know, we protect our own people.”

Yasmeen Ludy

James Henson teaches martial arts

Henson’s mission goes beyond self-defense. He wants to introduce his community to clean eating. With the help of The Fledge, a community center in Lansing, he plans to plant gardens in black communities.

James Henson Irrigation Plants

Yasmeen Ludy

James Henson Irrigation Plants

So far, Henson has grown 600 vegetables and is just waiting for them to sprout before giving them to community members.

Creating gardens in black communities

Henson also purchases copies of a book called “African American Slave Medicine” to introduce his community to natural remedies.

“There was a mentality from back then that black people don’t feel pain, or we just have a natural, very high tolerance for pain,” he said. “And that’s not true. So why not create something that can help our people thrive?”

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