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Activist and organizer Aaron Dixon found himself on the front lines just over 50 years ago when he was named the captain of the first Black Panther Party branch outside of California. Today is Dixon’s 70th birthday.

Dixon was born in 1949 in Chicago before his family moved west to Seattle’s Central District, a historically Black neighborhood. His passion for organizing and activism came from his parents, and he used that focus to help form the University of Washington’s Black Student Union and the Seattle branch of the SNCC, alongside current city Councilman Larry Gossett.

After meeting with the Panthers in Oakland for the funeral of Bobby Sutton in 1968, Dixon was instilled as the captain and co-founder of the group’s Seattle branch and incorporated the same programs and actions that took place across California. In the early ‘70’s, Dixon began working at the Panther’s national headquarters in Oakland and served as a bodyguard for Elaine Brown.

Dixon remained active as an activist and organizer after the Panthers folded. He worked on the campaign for Lionel Wilson, who was elected as the first Black mayor of Oakland in 1977. Dixon also entered into politics, running on the Green Party ticket for a U.S. Senate seat in 2006.

In 2012, Dixon published a memoir of his life titled My People Are Rising: Memoirs Of A Black Panther Party Captain which shared details of his time with the Black Panthers.

 

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