Video Oral History

Aaron Dixon

Seattle Black Panther Party History and Memory Project


Aaron Dixon was co-founder and Captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party.

Born in Chicago, he grew up in Seattle's Central District. His father worked at Boeing and both parents taught Aaron and his brothers the importance of fighting for social justice.  As a college student at the University of Washington, Dixon played a key role in the formation of the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Seattle Chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) along with Larry Gossett and others.  Through the BSU, Dixon also helped organize protests and black student unions at local high schools.  In the spring of 1968, at the funeral of Bobby Hutton in Oakland, California, Dixon met Bobby Seale and later was appointed Captain of Seattle’s Black Panther Party, the first chapter outside of Oakland. He was 19 years old. Dixon led the chapter through its first four years, then moved to Party national headquarters in Oakland in 1972. There he worked with Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and served for a time as bodyguard to Elaine Brown.

Aaron Dixon has written an autobiography, My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain (2012) published by Haymarket Press.

Aaron Dixon shared memories of his experiences with the Black Panther Party in videotaped interviews conducted by Janet Jones, Trevor Griffey, and Alex Morrow on May 2 and July 13,  2005. In these wide-ranging interviews, Dixon recalls the tension, violence, and excitement that surrounded the Black Panthers.  He also gives a rich account of the day-to-day life of Party members and describes the social programs that the Panthers developed, including a free breakfast program for school children, legal aid and medical clinics, pest control services, and a prison visitation program. 

To the right are streaming-video excerpts of the interviews.

You may also want to read the transcripts of an earlier oral history interview.

Scroll for more interview segments

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