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Elbert Howard, Black Panther Party Co-Founder, Dies at 80

Elbert Howard, also known as “Big Man,” had been sick prior to his death, according to his wife Carole Hyams.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Elbert Howard, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, has died at the age of 80.

Howard — who was also known during his life as “Big Man” — was one of six people, including Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, who founded the Black Panther Party in 1966.

He reportedly passed away on Monday in Santa Rosa, California. Howard’s wife Carole Hyams confirmed his death to The New York Times — her husband had been battling an illness prior to his passing, she said, but did not specify what the illness was.

Before quitting the party in 1974, Howard was the editor of the group’s newspaper as well as the deputy minister of information, and traveled abroad to launch new chapters of the party overseas, according to the Los Angeles Times.

During a 2004 interview with PBS’ “POV” series, Howard was asked what he thought the lasting impact of the Black Panther Party was, and how those involved in community activism today could learn from his experiences.

“One lesson that they can take away is the importance of community organization, going out and educating people in the community and being educated by people in the community —  finding out what their wants and needs are, figuring out ways of meeting those needs,” he said.

“You just can’t do it alone.”

[Photo: Elbert Howard speaks at a rally in support of detained Black Panther members, known at the time as the Panther 21, in New York, New York, on April 4, 1970. By David Fenton/Getty Images]