Michael D. McCarty is a professional storyteller of over 30 years, and specializes in stories of the African diaspora. You might remember Michael D. McCarty from the film, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution that was shown in theaters across America, and was later available for streaming online. You may also have seen him in the documentary, Belonging in the USA “The Story of Michael D. McCarty”, directed by Arielle Nobile. This documentary was a winner as best documentary of Borderscene Festival, and winner of San Francisco’s Black Film Festival. He was also in a Skittles commercial a few year-ago. Besides his debut on film and television, Michael has been on several panels. For example, he participated in the panel at the “Southern California Anarchist Conference” and “L.A. Anarchist Bookfair” where he talked on community organizing, and knowing and working with Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party.
He has been a speaker at many different benefit shows that have had anarcho punk bands playing. He held a workshop called, “Vegetarianism for Beginners” at the Southern California Library during the Liberation Fall event.
You may know him as you have been a recipient of a free book he has given you, as he has given out hundreds of books over the years to encourage others to read. You may have also even seen him driving around his very eye-catching car, as it is completely covered in bumper stickers, while going to bookstores and vegan restaurants. But, the most common way people remember Michael is by his very big and beautiful smile, and radiating positive energy.
Michael has been a vegetarian since 1982. He heard about vegetarianism and started experimenting with not eating meat while he was in the army as a young man, and later heard that groups he liked were also vegetarian, including Earth Wind and Fire and the rock group YES who were mostly vegetarian. Michael was a member of the Black Panther Party (BPP) in Chicago in the 60’s and 70’s.
He worked with BPP member Fred Hampton who he saw as a true leader and motivator. He believes Fred Hampton was a problem solver, and had clear insight into the mission of the movement, and was able to guide people to the right path to succeed.
While in the BPP Michael did community organizing, including organizing the free breakfast for children program. He also organized a branch of the free breakfast program in Gary, Indiana, and started instructing in cooking classes in Chicago. He noted the movement since the 60’s and 70’s is quite different compared to now.
A lot of the time people with good intentions sadly miss the heart of what the movement tried to accomplish back then, that it wasn’t just about owning guns and other weapons, but giving back to the community and taking care of one another.
He believes there is a lot more that can be learned from this past and adapted into today’s movement. Although the climate is different now, the same thing needs to happen, people need to speak out. Study what has happened in the past, including the mistakes of others, and always speak out and make it an obligation to do something when you see injustice.
As of now, Michael continues to work in schools at every level. He performs in libraries and travels the world to promote justice and empowerment. In 2022 he went to Nandid, India to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Dalit Panthers.
The Dalits were historically called “Untouchables.” Fifty-one years ago the Dalits learned of the Black Panther Party and created their own version. Michael and other former BPP members were the first Panthers to visit them in India.
In closing and as a gift, Michael shares the books he recommends you to read, including: “The Assasination of Fred Hampton,” by Jeffery Haas, “From the Ballot to the Bullet,” by Jakobi Williams, “Black Against the Empire,” by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin Jr., “Panther Baby,” by Jamal Joseph, “A Taste of Power,” by Elaine Brown, and “A Long Way Gone: Memoir of a Boy Soldier,” by Ishamael Beah.
By Vegan Peace Punk