BUNCHY CARTER & JOHN HUGGINS COMMEMORATION
John Huggins & Bunchy Carter Commemoration is an annual event hosted by ASU and the Academic Advancement Program to commemorate the lives of two men slain on UCLA’s campus. January 17 marks the anniversary of the assassinations of John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter in Campbell Hall. Carter and Huggins were UCLA students and Black Panther Party leaders during 1968-69. The Commemoration highlights the legacy of Huggins and Carter, and encourage students to find their potential through higher education, particularly at UCLA, as well as other campuses.
The Afrikan Student Union hosts this event along with UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program (AAP). Huggins and Carter were products of the High Potential Program, a program purposed with increasing the Black and Latino student enrollment at UCLA. Black and Latino students were tasked with going to predominantly Black (South Central LA) and Latino (East LA) areas to find students who fit the empowerment leadership model and could contribute to the UCLA population. These students directly enrolled students into UCLA, bypassing the systematic obstacles that dwarfed the Black and Latino student populations at that time.
The respect they enjoyed as Black Panther Party leaders in that explosive era and the work they did on campus inspired students in HPP as well as in the newly-formed Harambee Club to merge the interests of Black students and the Black community and act to serve those interests both on campus and in the community. As a result, Black students began to engage in student empowerment and self-determination. At the time Huggins and Carter were gunned down at Campbell Hall on January 17, 1969, several Black students were in the room meeting to decide the formation of the Black Studies Center. Their deaths had a substantial effect on Black student enrollment, nearly dissipating Black student enrollment as HPP came to a halt overnight. This event startled students and required a reigniting of Black student morale--something that came about with Dr. Angela Davis’s joining of the UCLA faculty.
After their deaths, the fight for a Black studies program at UCLA took another 40 years to manifest. However, beyond bureaucratic obstacles, the university finally chartered the African American Studies Department in 2013. Our coming together recognizes this push for access to education that long existed before John and Bunchy; yet, their spirit carries the fight onward.
Ironically, in the years since, Black student enrollment at UCLA has fallen, so that, in 2006, only 96 Black students, or less than two percent of the entering class, were enrolled as freshmen at UCLA, representing an all-time low. The Memorial will emphasize the need to resurrect the spirit of student empowerment and self-determination and the other ideals for which Bunchy Carter and John Huggins lived and died.