Hot dogs with a slice of history: Black Panther party installation to open in Oakland

Kasper’s Hot Dogs, set to reopen in Oakland before 2023, will feature permanent artwork honoring the Black Panther Party's legacy in the community and beyond.

An art installation commemorating the Black Panther Party is to be permanently featured at a historical Oakland hot dog restaurant formerly frequented by members of the activist group.

Kasper’s Hot Dogs, first opened in the Temescal neighborhood of North Oakland in 1943 and scheduled for reopening by year’s end, will highlight the Black Panther Party’s legacy and roots in the rapidly gentrifying area where party co-founder Huey P. Newton was born and raised, per the San Fransisco Chronicle.

In this Aug. 13, 1971 photo, Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party, addresses a rally outside the party headquarters in Oakland, California, urging members to boycott certain liquor stores. (Photo: AP)

Temescal is additionally the founding site of the party. As previously reported by theGrio, the Black Panther Party was active in the community and launched initiatives including free breakfast for children and a newspaper. The group also had a 10-point program focused on freedom, employment, an end to war, and housing for Black people.

Kasper’s, named after founder and Armenian immigrant Kasper Koojoolian, has for years stood abandoned since the restaurant closed in 2003 due to repair expenses. It was reportedly one of Huey P. Newton’s favorite childhood spots, and served several other party members, politicians, actors and musicians.

“Everybody used to come in that place,” Harry Yaglijian, Koojoolian’s grandson, told the Chronicle. “When the Panthers were prominent, (Huey Newton) used to come in.”

This fall, it is slated to begin serving Chicago-style hot dogs again after new owners purchased it with the intent to renovate and reopen the historic building, per Berkeleyside.

Former Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton speaks to reporters in Oakland, California outside the courthouse in March 1979. (Photo: Sal Veder, AP/File)

Outside the restaurant will be permanent artwork honoring the Black Panther Party created by the Temescal Roots Project, organized by the Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District in partnership with the Made in Color creative agency and the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, per the Chronicle.

In the coming months, the groups will co-host community discussions and workshops around Oakland to brainstorm ideas for the installation with residents, artists, historians, local business leaders and more, the outlet reported.

Fredrika Newton, widow to the late Huey P. Newton and former Black Panther Party member, told the Chronicle that until now, the city has not installed any permanent artworks honoring the full group, its mission and history in the community.

“It’s not a history that’s widely known,” Fredrika told the outlet, adding that the ongoing displacement of longstanding residents in Temescal makes it all the more urgent that there are local markers to “celebrate that history and the young men and women who made supreme sacrifices to serve that community.”

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