Fredrika Newton + Huey P. = Revolutionary Love

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Fredrika and Huey P. Newton on their wedding day.
Fredrika and Huey P. Newton on their wedding day. (Courtesy of the De Young Museum)

Fredrika Newton met her late husband, Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, when she was a college student. From that chance meeting, came a relationship for the history books.

This week Fredrika shares what it’s like to love one of America’s most notable activists and what it’s like to love Huey, the man behind the symbol.   

Fredrika carries Huey’s legacy as the president of the Huey P. Newton foundation, which is currently in the process of creating a Black Panther Museum. She’s also working on building a permanent public monument in Oakland dedicated to the legacy of Huey P. Newton. 

In the three decades since Huey’s death, Fredrika has gained lots of wisdom about healing and growth. She also tells us how she’s just learning to love again.

Here’s to love, revolution and evolution.

Fredrika Newton
Fredrika Newton (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Portions of this interview have been edited for length and clarity.


On The Night They Met
I met him at my mother's house. My mother was a real estate broker for the Black Panther Party. It was packed, full of young students, activists, some Panthers. All these people were asking him a lot of questions about these kinds of deep, intellectual, academic, esoteric questions. It came time for me to ask him a question, I just asked him, "So what was it like in prison?" He put down his fork, and he stopped. And he thought, and he looked at me in the eyes, and he said it was very lonely. And it was something in that connection. His vulnerability and his thoughtfulness and his quietness, that just kind of captivated me. The rest is history.

On Their Song
Huey loved Isaac Hayes. "I Stand Accused." Are you kidding me? That album. And back then that the speakers were like this big, and he had four of them. They were huge.

On Maintaining a Healthy Relationship While Combating Oppression
It's like being in a foxhole together. Everything is intense. Everything is immediate. I think that a lot of relationships were sacrificed. It gave new meaning to stay in the day. You didn't know if you'd have another day. So relationships were intense.

On Her Definition of Love
I know that love is not just a feeling and that it's an action in terms of your community. I think that what we did in the Party, was just such a definition of love. It's just an ultimate example of undying love for their community.

To learn more, join Fredrika Newton at the De Young Museum Saturday, February 15th. She will be in conversation about Huey, their activism, their life together and his legacy. It's part of the “Soul of a Nation” show on now at the museum.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page.