Michael Dixon is the youngest of three brothers who helped create and lead Seattle’s chapter of the Black Panther Party. Born in Champaign, Illinois, he was five when his parents moved the family to Seattle in the late 1950s. His father found work at Boeing but restrictive housing codes forced the Dixons to live in central area of Seattle. Dixon recalls that the Central District was, at that time, not yet a black community but was the only place that blacks could live.
Michael Dixon attended Garfield High School and was a sophomore when Seattle’s chapter of the Black Panther Party was started in 1968. Dixon followed his older brothers Aaron and Elmer into the Party. Events at Garfield also helped shape Dixon’s activism when violence and chaos threatened to close Garfield High School and disrupt the lives of the Central District’s children. Along with his brother Elmer, Michael Dixon helped start and run Garfield’s Black Student Union which demanded quality education for minority students. Quality education, however, began with security and Dixon and other students worked with the Black Panthers to secure Garfield from drugs, guns, and pimps. After Dixon graduated from Garfield, he attended the University of Washington and was active in UW’s BSU at the same time that he continued his work in the Black Panther Party. Today Dixon continues to work for the betterment of black students by challenging youths to confront pressures that persistently threaten black communities.
In video-taped interviews conducted by Janet Jones on June 27 and August 10, 2005, Dixon shared memories of his activist experiences. Here are streaming-video excerpts. Video editing by Nathan Roberts.