From Black Panther Revolutionary to Global Diversity Consultant
His image—holding a rifle on the steps of the Washington state capitol building—is one of the most iconic photographs from the Black Power movement.
Elmer Dixon co-founded the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party to provide armed patrols to protect Black people from police beatings and killings. Now, half a century later, Dixon is a popular Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant for companies, organizations, and universities around the world.
Read his remarkable story, DIE STANDING: From Black Panther Party Revolutionary to Global Diversity Consultant by Elmer Dixon, with a foreword by former Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale. It will be released in hardcover, paperback and eBook on June 19, 2023 for the Juneteenth holiday. Pre-order your copies now.
“During the Black Power Movement of the 1960s, Gil Scott Heron said, ‘The revolution will not be televised.’ Today, the revolution is being televised, and it’s waking up the whole world to take action.” — Elmer Dixon
This powerful memoir—with a foreword by former Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale—sets the record straight about the altruistic mission of the Black Panther Party, whose image has been maligned in media, movies, and minds as angry, gun-toting, misogynistic thugs.
On the contrary, the Panthers started a free breakfast program for children… distributed free groceries to families… opened schools… founded health clinics… and provided patrols to protect people from police abuse. They did what they felt the government was not doing for Black people. And now, their 10-point plan can serve as a blueprint for the social justice movement today.
The recent popularity—and awards season buzz—for the film Judas and the Black Messiah illustrates a renewed interest in understanding the Panthers, their goals, and their demise after notorious FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared them “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”
Dixon presents all of the above through vivid, suspenseful storytelling that engages the reader’s mind, heart, and soul. With engaging stories, the book references his family’s roots during slavery, describes his father’s survival of racist attacks by Americans as a U.S. Army soldier during World War II, showcases how he grew up in a multicultural Seattle neighborhood, and chronicles his awakening to the cause of human rights.
Having marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Seattle as a child, Dixon came of age during an era of assassinations: Malcolm X, President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Bobby Hutton, and many others.
Spurred to action by Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael’s speech at his high school, Dixon committed his life as a revolutionary after seeing 17-year-old Little Bobby Hutton—riddled with 30-plus police bullets—lying in a casket.
“That could be me,” thought Dixon, also 17, surrounded by hundreds of people—including movie star Marlon Brando and Panthers wearing trademark berets and leather jackets—who filled the Oakland, California church and surrounding neighborhood to hear Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale’s electrifying, urgent directive to protect Black lives, provide resources for Black people to thrive, and to dismantle racism.
A short time later, as co-founder of the first Black Panther Party chapter outside of California, Dixon worked alongside his brother, Aaron Dixon, author of My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain.
In Die Standing, Dixon describes how heavily armed Panthers confronted police to protect Black drivers. He also takes the reader into suspenseful scenes inside the Panthers’ home and offices: a fortified bunker that was under constant threat of attack by law enforcement officers, false accusations, imprisonment and assassinations of fellow Panthers. Dixon writes about the time he spent time in prison, all the while living by his declaration that:
“I would rather die standing than live on my knees.”
The book shows how, after 16 years in the Party, Dixon began working as an EEO Officer and Training Manager for a large organization, where he developed and implemented trainings and monitoring of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
Later, his high-profile work against sexual harassment impressed the two female founders of Executive Diversity Services, who invited him to join their company.
And now coming full circle, the same tenets of the Black Panther Party’s mission to protect Black lives from police brutality and death have elevated him as one of the most sought-after Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion expert trainers in the United States and the world.
A devoted family man, Dixon shares how he met his wife of 48 years, Dee Dee, and how his love for his children and grandchildren continues to embolden his commitment to creating a better world.
Die Standing offers Elmer Dixon’s inspiring story and action-oriented teachings to help propel the social justice movement by creating a world where Black and Brown people are safe to live, learn, and prosper with equality and justice for all.
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The book cover was designed by Illumination Graphics of Merlin, Oregon.
If you are interested in placing an order of 25 or more, please email us at Catherine@twosisterswriting.com.
Here is an excerpt from Die Standing
I was no longer getting my hair cut, and my natural hair was growing out. The Black Power movement was in full stride. James Brown had come out with a song, Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud, and more people started wearing afro’s. My parents knew that I was organizing in SNCC, and they were aware of it—along with its leaders Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown—because the organization was very prevalent in the Civil Rights Movement in the South.
As long as my grades were good, they were not going to say much that year to discourage me, because they were also politically aware and supportive of their children becoming politically active.
The mood in the country was changing. Young people—Black, White, Latino, Asian, and Native Americans—were not satisfied with just marching and taking a beating, but were standing up and being counted. They were not asking for their civil rights, but demanding their God-given rights. They were not going to beg; they were going to take them.
Vietnam War protests had spawned groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Peace and Freedom Party, and the more militant wing of SDS, The Weathermen. We weren’t quite sure what that meant for us or what was going to happen, but the dynamic of struggling against racist oppression was about to change in Seattle. It was like a pressure cooker was about to blow its top.
Still lingering in our collective Black psyche was the June 1965 police killing of 40-year-old Robert L. Reese. He was shot in the back of the head while fleeing a fight scene by an off-duty cop. King County prosecuting attorney Charles O’Carroll refused to charge the officers, even though the inquest jury had delivered a verdict of reasonable homicide. Instead, the three Black men riding in the car with Reese were charged and convicted of assault after they had responded to racist taunts by the off-duty cops. Now, three years later, the Black community had not forgotten.
Nor had I.
During the last week of March, a group of Black students from Franklin High School invited my brother, Aaron, his fellow UW BSU leaders, Larry Gossett and Carl Miller, me, and a few of my comrades from Garfield, to meet at their hangout, the Beanery, a small burger joint across the street from their school.
“We heard about your BSU chapters,” said Charles Toliver and Trolis Flavors, “and we want to organize a BSU at Franklin. We need your help to deal with some problems we’re having.”
A few weeks earlier, they told us that a young Black female student, had come to school one morning wearing her new afro. She was called to the office.
“Your hair is not becoming of a young woman,” the vice principal told her. “You’re suspended from school. You can come back to school when you have an appropriate hairdo.”
Charles and Trolis then told us that when Black students got into fights with white students over some trivial thing, the white students were sent back to class, while the Black kids were disciplined or kicked out of school. When they asked Franklin’s principal to grant them permission to organize the BSU, to help deal with these issues, he refused.
“Let’s go!” we said.
The eight of us immediately left the Beanery, marched across the street, and entered the Franklin High School principal’s office.
“Get out!” we ordered. “We’re running the school,” we declared, “until you give in to our demands. We’re staying in your office until you give the students a BSU.”
The principal, vice principal, the secretary, and counselors quickly exited the building. We barricaded ourselves in for the night and for the long haul, with no intention to leave until our demands were met.
The next morning, the phone rang, and we answered.
“Good morning this is Franklin High School, can I help you?”
On the other end was the principal and he said, “You know, they can have a BSU, we give up. Please leave our offices.”
We briefly celebrated our success and left the school.
A week later—on April 4, 1968—I was back at Garfield in my geometry class when the phone rang.
“Elmer,” said my teacher, Mr. Bob Naramore, “they want you in the office.” That was not unusual, as I had been called to the office on multiple occasions.
“Fine,” I said. “What did I do now?”
I closed my books and as soon as I stepped outside the classroom, two detectives read me my rights and handcuffed me.
“You’re under arrest for unlawful assembly,” they said before quietly marching me out of the school and driving me off to juvie.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, one of my BSU brothers was also arrested at the school. At the University of Washington, and Aaron, Larry Gosset, and Carl Miller, as well as several Franklin students were being arrested simultaneously.
When I arrived in juvie, TV reports showed riots and burning all across the country. We learned that hours earlier, Dr. King had been assassinated.
This created bitter irony for the timing of our arrest. It was almost as if authorities knew the assassination was going to occur, so they were rounding up the so-called Black Power leaders to get us off the streets before any chaos happened in Seattle. As I sat trapped inside the walls of juvie in a holding room, we crowded around the TV, watching the shocking news as the nation erupted, and the streets burned.
Riots were breaking out in Washington, DC, L.A., Dallas, Chicago, and other cities. James Brown was performing at a concert in Boston and made a plea for Black people to not riot. But they were so distraught, they took their rage and grief to the streets.
Later that evening, when Poppy and Mommy came to get me out of juvie, they were in shock, anger, and disbelief over the death of Dr. King while their two older sons were in jail.
“Are you alright?” they asked.
“I’m fine,” I answered.
We drove home in silence as hurt roiled in my parents’ eyes. I could sense their dismay, frustration, and pain of losing yet another important leader. NAACP leader Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, President John F. Kennedy, and now Martin Luther King had all represented so much hope for Blacks. The world was in for some serious shit and my parents’ two oldest sons were now a part of this movement that was evolving, and growing, and they couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Praise for Elmer Dixon
EventsUpcoming Events for Elmer Dixon
Meet the Author & Get Your Autographed Book!
The public is invited to meet Dixon and purchase autographed copies of DIE STANDING at a book signing event at historic Washington Hall, 153 14th Avenue, Seattle, Washington, 98122, on Friday, June 16th, 2023, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
The event is free and will include a screening of the documentary film, Seattle Black Panther: Fight for Justice and Freedom, produced by Rick DuPree, Elmer Dixon, his brother Aaron Dixon and Marques DuPree.