Regina Jennings, Poet. Author
Jo Ann Chesmar
Regina Jennings, Poet. Author
Regina Jennings, they used to call her "Tuddy," relatives still do, is special.
Special just like many
other former Black Panther Party [BPP] sisters with whom I am close friends. People, women whom I admire on
various levels. Who, to this day I depend on for various reasons.
Regina is special also because I have known her on a face-to-face basis for more
than thirty years and we have been tight for the last sixteen years. In that time Regina and I have brain stormed
the need to get all of our BPP history communicated. We always help each other in that real "friends zone" term,
that Chris Rock coined. She edited the introduction to one of my books. She always supported and
encouraged me at Temple U.
Regina is special also because she is my wife Leslie's best and early sixties firend
when they were living in Philadelphia and working together at the Philadelphia Urban League in 1968.
She and Leslie were young vibrant, good looking, curious, looking for love, anti-racist and beliving in right.
Discovering daily adventure in life and just getting out on thier own and only eighteen years of age.
First Regina took off on vacation to California, taking only one week of two weeks vacation she had
coming. A vacation also to check out the BPP they heard so much about in the news.
"Girl that Bobby Seale & Huey Newton are some tough, fine good looking brothers.
With thier guns telling these racists where to get off at! Yea, and
Huey in that wicker chair. He is so fine!"
Regina returned from vacation a week late, and in disagreement over vacation time, she literally quit
her job, took off again and joined the BPP out in Oakland California.
The next thing you know Leslie takes her full two weeks vacation to visit Regina. Leslie discovers
that Regina is a full time Black Panther working out of the East Oakland BPP branch office.
A couple a months later Leslie gets lucky and transfers her job to Oakland California and a
a month later she joins the BPP but keeping her job. Prior to that Regina introduced Leslie to me. I fell in love.
But I concealed my loving passion need with "Revolutionary love!" As Chairman of the party
I felt that some kind of responsibility term needed to preface my heart pounding love for Leslie.
Leslie and Regina are two of our sixties Black Panther Party [BPP] "Vanguard Women."
That's Regina's term, not mine. Vanguard Women is the title of a Screenplay treatment Regina decided on.
Back in the day, young American Black women who represented two thirds
of the BPP's 5,000 plus active full time membership by 1969. They were right there doing every thing
from learning to shoot & be safe with guns for our self defense, puting thier very lives on the line as we all did,
to organizing and corrdinating free breakfast for children & sickle cell anemia testing programs.
Selling BPP newspapers, registering people to vote, standing watch at night just in case the "pigs"
ready up for an attack on our offices. Being dedicated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, "365"
under the toughist of poor & low income ghetto conditions.
After the BPParty days & married for a few years with a spouse who to many times abusively resented
her for deciding to go to college Regina wound up a single parent of two children,
and forced on welfare. At anoher point Regina literally quit a boy friend with her gun in her hand. Damn!
Oh they are still firends. Actually he is a very nice guy. But Regina persevered and got that Masters degree,
got her self and her dhildren off fucking welfare teaching English. Then she knocked out that doctorial degree
and she today teaches African American literature.
Like so many thousands of BPP sisters whom I respect and love for thier life cycle with political
revolutionary dedication, including others like Audrea Jones, Lynn French, Carol Rucker, Ericka Huggins,
Angelia Davis, Afini Shakura, Jo Ann Chesmar, Lauren "Big Lolly" Williams, Shelly Bursey,
Regina is my hero, firend: Buddy!
By Bobby Seale