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Aaron Dixon

Political activist Aaron Lloyd Dixon was born on January 2, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois to Frances Sledge Dixon and Elmer James Dixon. The Dixons were leftist activists and valued the importance of fighting social injustice. Dixon moved to Seattle, Washington in 1958, when his father accepted a job as a technical illustrator for the United States Air Force. In 1961, at age eleven, Dixon walked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his march to end housing discrimination in Seattle. He attended Coleman Elementary School, Blaine Junior High School and in 1963, became one of the first African American youth to integrate predominantly white Queen Anne High School.

In 1967, Dixon attended Washington University and joined the local SNCC chapter. As a member of SNCC, Dixon met the black radical Larry Gossett, and co-founded the Seattle Area Black Student Union (SABSU). As members of the SABSU, Dixon, Gossett, and Dixon’s younger brother, Elmer, promoted self determination, self-respect and self defense throughout Seattle’s black community. In 1968, after attending funeral services in Oakland, California for seventeen-year-old Bobby Hutton, a founding member of the Black Panther Party that was shot down by Oakland police, Dixon, Gossett, and others established the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. As founding member and captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party, Dixon helped launch the Free Breakfast for School Children Program, which fed over 10,000 children every day before school. Dixon was also instrumental in the opening of a free medical and legal clinic.

In 1970, Congress began its full scale investigation of the Black Panther Party with much of its focus on the activities of the Seattle chapter. Although the investigation would lead to the demise of the Black Panther Party’s many major city chapters, the Seattle chapter would last longer than most. Dixon moved to Oakland, the national headquarters of the Black Panther Party, in 1972. There, he served as a bodyguard for chairperson Elaine Brown. Dixon worked on the mayoral campaign of Lionel Wilson in 1978, helping him to become Oakland, California’s first African American mayor.

In 2002, Dixon founded the non-profit organization, Central House, to provide transitional housing for homeless young adults. Central House currently contains a youth leadership project that teaches youth to think positively, graduate high school and to control their destinies. In 2006, the Green Party of Washington nominated Dixon for the U.S. Senate. Following his campaign for U.S. Senate, Dixon organized the Center for Social Justice based out of the Seattle Central District. The Center for Social Justice organized an anti-war rally and march in January 2007.

Dixon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 24, 2007 June 6, 2008 and July 26, 2019.

Accession Number

A2007.301

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

10/24/2007

6/6/2008

7/26/2019

Last Name

Dixon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Floyd

Occupation
Schools

Queen Anne High School

Coleman Elementary School

James A. Garfield High School

University of Washington

Meany Middle School

First Name

Aaron

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

DIX01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

Everything's Going To Be Alright

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Mexico

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/2/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Albuquerque

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Apple Pie

Short Description

Political activist Aaron Dixon (1949 - ) was a founding member and captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. He founded the non-profit organization, Central House and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Employment

Central House

S.F. Youth Law Center

City of Seattle

Medona

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Aaron Dixon's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon describes his maternal grandmother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Aaron Dixon describes his maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Aaron Dixon talks about the riots in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Aaron Dixon describes his mother's musical career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Aaron Dixon describes his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Aaron Dixon describes his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Aaron Dixon describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Aaron Dixon describes his paternal grandfather's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Aaron Dixon describes his paternal grandmother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Aaron Dixon describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Aaron Dixon describes his father's experiences in the U.S. Army, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Aaron Dixon describes his father's experiences in the U.S. Army, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon describes his father and his likeness to him

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon describes his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Aaron Booker describes his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Aaron Booker describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Aaron Booker describes the Burch Village community in Champaign, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Aaron Booker describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Aaron Booker remembers his maternal great-great-grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Aaron Booker remembers moving to Seattle, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Aaron Booker describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Aaron Booker remembers his parents' home ownership

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Aaron Booker remembers his father's friendship with artists

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Aaron Booker recalls his father's involvement in the Communist Party

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Aaron Booker remember his parents' conversations about civil rights

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Aaron Dixon talks about the representation of African Americans on television

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon describes his family's musical background

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon describes his early personality

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Aaron Dixon remembers Queen Anne High School in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Aaron Dixon remembers his early mentors

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Aaron Dixon remembers joining the debate team

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Aaron Dixon remembers his arguments with his parents

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Aaron Dixon remembers the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Aaron Dixon recalls founding a Black Student Union at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Aaron Dixon's interview, session 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon recalls the Black Student Union members at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon remembers the lack of black faculty at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon describes the African American community at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Aaron Dixon recalls occupying the president's office at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Aaron Dixon remembers occupying Franklin High School in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Aaron Dixon recalls being charged with unlawful assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Aaron Dixon remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Aaron Dixon remembers Bobby Hutton's memorial service

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Aaron Dixon recalls forming a Black Panther Party chapter in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Aaron Dixon recalls the expansion of the Black Panther Party

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Aaron Dixon describes the history of the Black Panther Party

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon describes the Black Panther Party's policy on self-defense

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon talks about police brutality in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon describes the ideology of the Black Panther Party

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Aaron Dixon describes the ages of the Black Panther Party membership

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Aaron Dixon remembers the Mulford Act of 1967

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Aaron Dixon describes the discipline of the Black Panther Party

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Aaron Dixon remembers Landon Williams

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Aaron Dixon remembers a confrontation with the police, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Aaron Dixon remembers a confrontation with the police, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Aaron Dixon remembers his parents' support of his activism

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon recalls opening a Black Panther Party office in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon recalls the Asian members of the Black Panther Party

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon remembers responding to calls for protection

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Aaron Dixon describes the black community's relationship with the police

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Aaron Dixon remembers protecting the black students at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Aaron Dixon recalls the Black Panther Party's appeal to the United Nations

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Aaron Dixon describes the Black Panther Party's relationship with SNCC

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Aaron Dixon recalls meeting the Tanzanian delegation to the United Nations

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Aaron Dixon remembers his arrest and the ensuing riots, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Aaron Dixon remembers his arrest and the ensuing riots, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon describes the rhetoric of revolution

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon remembers the infiltration of the Black Panther Party

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon remembers being protected from the police by a neighbor

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Aaron Dixon remembers the deaths of Black Panther Party members

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Aaron Dixon remembers meeting Fred Hampton

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Aaron Dixon recalls the young leadership of the Black Panther Party

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Aaron Dixon describes his trial

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Aaron Dixon remembers the deaths of Bunchy Carter and John Huggins

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Aaron Dixon describes the relationship between gangs and the Black Panther Party

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Aaron Dixon remembers Huey P. Newton's leadership

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Aaron Dixon talks about Fred Hampton and Huey P. Newton

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Aaron Dixon recalls protecting himself from assassination

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Aaron Dixon remembers Fred Hampton's assassination

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Aaron Dixon remembers learning of Fred Hampton's assassination

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Aaron Dixon recalls the raid on the Black Panther Party's Los Angeles chapter

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Aaron Dixon remembers being protected by Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Aaron Dixon remembers the purge of the Black Panther Party membership

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Aaron Dixon describes the Black Panther Party's free breakfast program

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Aaron Dixon remembers the boycott of Safeway Inc. stores

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Aaron Dixon describes the Black Panther Party's community programs

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Aaron Dixon describes the Black Panther Party's international presence

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Aaron Dixon describes the Black Panther Party's relationship to the community

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Aaron Dixon talks about the Nation of Islam

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Aaron Dixon remembers the split in the Black Panther Party

DASession

2$2

DATape

4$7

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
Aaron Dixon recalls forming a Black Panther Party chapter in Seattle, Washington
Aaron Dixon remembers being protected from the police by a neighbor
Transcript
And so Bobby Seale gave his speech and he gave one of the most dynamic speeches that I have ever heard, even to this day. I can't say that I've heard a speech that was as profound and as emotional as that speech was. As soon as he concluded, I made a bee line to where he was standing and so did my brother [Elmer Dixon III] and Anthony Ware who was standing in different parts of the auditorium, and we told Bobby Seale we wanted to have a Black Panther Party chapter in Seattle [Washington]. So, a week later, him and George Murray [George Mason Murray] who was the administrator of education flew to Seattle and we met at my mother's [Frances Sledge Dixon] house, my parents' house. About twenty-five other people came up there and we met over a two-day period and we formed the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party, which was the first chapter outside of the State of California. And Bobby Seale at that point asked me to go on tour. Now, he, he was beginning his campaign, his Free Huey campaign and, and what he was doing was opening up chapters and branches all over the country and, of course, we were the first. And he was on his way to the East Coast to open up more chapters and branches, and he asked me to, to travel with him and I, I wasn't really--I wasn't ready to, to do that. You know, I, I just had been appointed as the captain and, you know, I was getting ready to step into something that was extremely different from where I had come from, my family, my community, and all of the comfort that all of that brings, I was getting ready to leave all of that behind and take on a new life. And I had some ideas of how serious it was, and so I think I just needed a little bit of time to think about what I was getting into. So, I always wished I had gone with, with Bobby Seale on that, that, that, that organizing tour. I think I probably could've learned a lot, but I didn't.$$So, you're, you're, what eighteen, nineteen?$$Yeah. Nineteen.$$Yeah. So, so are you--were you the, the, the head of the--$$I was appointed--$$--Seattle chapter?$$Yeah, Bobby said, "Okay, who's gonna be the captain?" After the meeting he said, "Okay, who's gonna be the captain?"$$Okay, so they called you the captain.$$Everybody--you know, most of the people point--pointed to me, which was a surprise for me.$I remember one night, there were three, four Panthers who waited with me for the office to close down and so they said, "We're gonna walk you home," and these are the guys I went to high school [James A. Garfield High School, Seattle, Washington] with, you know, I knew them. But they weren't political. They weren't political. They were all kind of like involved in the criminal--that was always what they were really more interested in. So, they say, "Okay, Aaron [HistoryMaker Aaron Dixon], we're gonna walk you home." So, at that time, things were so bad where our office was, we called it Pork Chop Hill 'cause we were on, on the hill. There was a fire station around the corner, and we used to snipe at the fire station almost nightly to keep the fire trucks from going out to put out the firebombs that we had thrown. So, the police would only come up there three cars deep, four in a car, shotguns hanging out the window. We called it Pork Chop Hill. That was a famous battle in the Korean War. So, these guys say, "Okay, we're gonna walk you home." So, we're walking home, we turn the corner, we're walking down the street late at night, about 10:00, 10:30 at night, and all of the sudden a police car drives by and one of them pulls his gun out and starts shooting. And the next thing I know, I'm by myself. These guys have like scattered and disappeared. I said, shit, I, I better get out of here. So, I--I'm looking for somewhere to run, so I run up in--up these stairs in--into these people's backyard that I know. They lived down the street from me. I, I run in their backyard and I get in the backyard. I forgot it's, it's a backyard where they have these fifteen feet high bushes around the whole perimeter, there's no way out. So, I'm in there and I hear the--I hear the police out front. I hear them getting out of their cars. I hear them talking. Then, I hear them start coming up the stairs and I pull out my, my 9mm. And I said--I was--I said, they got me. I'm, I'm gonna die tonight, you know. And just when I thought I was doomed, this man comes out on his porch, his name is Mr. Melinson and he does like this, (gesture) you know, he signals me to come in. So, I ran into his house and just as he closes the door, the police are all in the backyard looking around. So, I'm sitting up in the window with him and his wife and his kids and I still got my 9mm in my hand and the police are going through all the bushes, looking under cars. So, somebody told him I ran into that backyard, you know. And so they're scrounging all around looking for me, you know. So, finally, they give up and they leave and I leave and I run home.$$So, they never knocked on the door or anything or tried to--$$No, they didn't knock on the door. So, this Mr. Melinson, he was--he was from Texas. He was very light-skinned and he was very conservative. His kids were all in Catholic school. We grew up with his family with his kids. And when we joined the Black Panther Party, he told his kids that they couldn't have anything to do with us anymore 'cause he, he was afraid for their safety, which was understandable. But, you know, he had--he had the courage enough to, you know, come out there and let me in his house and save my life, you know. So, it was something that I always--would always be very grateful to him for.$$Yeah, I think it's like counter what used to be some of the rhetoric in those days about middle class being so against (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--you know, the, the cultural revolution and the--$$Yeah.$$--the paramilitary people like the Panthers and--$$Yeah.$$--and others, RNA [Republic of New Afrika] and being afraid of so-called black militants not being able to get along with them and--$$Yeah.$$--but, here's somebody that actually didn't want to do what you all are doing, didn't want his kids doing it, but he understood what you were doing or something (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.