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May 13th: Emiliano Zapata

13 May

Emiliano Zapata was the leader of the Liberation Army of the South in the Mexican Revolution (started in 1910). His opposition was the president of Mexico.

Though from a middle class background, Zapata was fighting for and representing the folks in Mexico who were having their agrarian rights taken away from them.  Communal farm lands, known as ejidos, had once been integral parts of life in Mexico. However, people in power wanted to privatize the lands. This privatization was and is devastating for the working class people and indigenous people in Mexico. At the beginning of the Civil War Zapata somewhat supported Madero as an alternative to Diaz. However, as many revolutionaries soon discover,the politician they helped out did not actually crete the necessary radical change. Madero began watering down the policies, and failed to be responsive to the needs of the people. So Zapata decided to fight back.

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May 12th: Bunchy Carter

13 May

Starting out his life, not political, but simply involved in a gang, upon his release from a 4 year stint in prison, Bunch Carter met Huey Newton in 1967. He was convinced to become a Black Panther.

Bunchy Carter formed the Southern California branch of the Black Panther Party. This branch had many successful programs, such as the Breakfast for Children program. The FBI and Hoover considered the Black Panther Party the greatest threat to national security, and used programs such as COINTELPRO to harass and undermine the efforts of the Black Panther Party.

At this time, the Black Panther Party was rivals with a black nationalist group called Organization Us. During an argument between the Black Panthers and US at UCLA, Carter and fellow Panther John Huggins were shot and killed.  The supposed gunman from US was never found. It later came out that as part of its COINTELPRO program the FBI had been deliberately stoking the rivalry between the two organizations, and spreading lies and misinformation so as to create more problems between the groups. This is largely why the death of Bunchy Carter is seen as the fault of the state.  The FBI and police used the shootout as an excuse to raid BPP homes and headquarters and arrest 75 BPP members on charges that were later dropped.

Killed January 17th, 1969.