FADE TO BLACK

"One thing he never wanted me to do was sell drugs," says 24-year-old Hasira Watson. "He saw that as the system winning. He saw that as us against them, as we would be talking a big loss. He never wanted us to buy into that system and to admit defeat."
Still, even if the charges against his father stick, Hasira says he'll understand. "If it were true," he explains, "it would be more of a lesson than odd, because nothing that happens within a revolution is odd."

Twenty-two-year-old Kahlil Watson also doubts his father's guilt. "I just trust my dad," he says. "He's never done anything contrary to what he's taught me to do. He's never been hypocritical."

If Lauren is guilty of anything, Kahlil continues, it is letting down his guard. "If I had to name one of his flaws," he says, "it would be bad judge of character. I'm just the opposite; I think I can judge a man's character pretty well. With him, I think it came just from getting tired. He's made some bad choices about who he's associated with. It hasn't detracted from who he is. But at 55 years old, and after twenty years of being harassed, he's tired. When you're thirsty you'll drink anything. You don't necessarily hold out for the Perrier. You'll take the drip from the fountain."

"When I was in the Panthers," Lauren says, "I didn't expect to live. I was shocked when I reached thirty. So I dedicated myself to parenting." "He was a wonderful father," says Mary Lou. "In the early 1970s you didn't see a lot of men changing diapers, holding their babies in public. It really made him redefine his life, where he wanted to focus his energies. We'd always talked generally about changing the world. But when you can personalize it, bring it down to your own sons, it means something else entirely."

Kahlil says he pieced together his father's brief affair with fame by reading newspaper clippings that his grandmother had plastered onto the wall of the back bedroom of the family's home; Hasira says he learned just by listening. "He talked about his time with the Panthers all the time," he recalls.

And sometimes their father's past was just outside the window. "I remember us being pulled over many times," says Kahlil. "They would take him out of the car, and we'd be sitting inside watching them pat him down." Adds Hasira, "I was one child who grew up never wanting to be a police officer."

A 1975 campaign flier for Watson's unsuccessful city council run shows him and Mary Lou, their sons between them, striding down a street. Another shows Lauren speaking with two residents, with Hasira next to him--wool watch cap, flannel shirt, hands jammed in jeans--observing. "He used to keep us home from school sometimes and take us around to meet people in the neighborhood when he was doing the weatherization project," Kahlil recalls.

When Lauren and Mary Lou divorced fifteen years ago, the two boys went to live with their mother. Both say that Mary Lou took care of the day-to-day struggle of bringing them up. But, they add, they received their political education from their father.

Kahlil became involved in community organizing about three years ago. He was attending a conference on youth crime in Denver when he stood up to ask a question about the police department's treatment of young blacks. "A policewoman gave me her card and told me to call her," he recalls.

That was Tracie Harrison, a detective and community-relations representative for the police department. She also remembers Kahlil: "He seemed genuinely concerned, particularly that kids get involved in positive ways in the community." Kahlil agreed to help form the Police Chief's Youth Council. "He acted as a mentor to the younger kids," says Harrison. "He was definitely helpful. The kids looked up to him."

Not surprisingly, the Watson brothers also began dabbling in Black Panther philosophy. "My brother and I and one of our cousins started revising part of the Ten Point Black Panther program," Kahlil begins. "But then my dad pulled us together and said, `This isn't what you want to do. Things are different now.' He told us how it had caused him a lot of trouble. He told us, `If you have a family, no one's going to sacrifice to support your family.'"

Hasira has come to agree with his father. "It's glorified: You know, `Fighting back in the Sixties!' But one thing it never shows is the aftermath, the people who lived for the party after it disintegrated. Don't believe you're going to have the picket fence and still be an enemy of the state."

Last year Kahlil joined Hasira, who is studying chemistry at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. Both say their father's name has brought them instant rapport with many of their teachers. "I've heard more about my father here than I ever did in Denver," says Kahlil, who is majoring in black history and has founded a new campus organization called BLAKK with his older brother. The group, which Kahlil says has attracted as many as 200 students to its Thursday-evening meetings, is dedicated largely to what the Black Panthers were not.

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2 comments
DayDreamer1
DayDreamer1

I failed to point out that a man does not forfeit the right to live...if it is taken where NO EVIDENCE has been discovered for a 53 gun solute to take place...to this day evidence remains inconclusive where our State of the Art crime Lab should have pulled this case as it was one of the first bizarre, African American deaths to be tried where it did "change crime lab procedures," for the historical value of how we are to conduct work today.


With Gods Will 

DayDreamer1
DayDreamer1

As I research, I wish to congratulate Mr. Watson on his sustaining his physical abuses of what inhumane life brought for that time period. However, there is a man, who sustained the same appalling ordeals in our far State. He was a man who dates back to the same conflicts of simple traffic nonobservances that resulted in many harassments' documented in the 1950s. Mr. Watson and this man, my father, once stood for the same goals: the freedom to help elderly stay in their home, to not shave his beard, to have fair education, many uncalled for battles with law enforcement.. i.e. all are in articles. Their were men, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Emmitt Till, Medger Evers, Fred Hampton, and many others, who knew they were going to die for what we have in our present time and do not appreciate. It is sad, I cannot find any information on my father; when goggled.  However, to have many articles says a lot about a man who no one wants to do a follow up on.


Articles as this one was true for the Civil rights Era. I wish to "Lay" my father "Down In Peace" with the truth told. A true story untold.


My father's death was a horrific "53 gun" solute where there was no proof of wrong doing." No True Bill" did read" No True Will".


As God Continues to give His Grace and Mercy

 
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