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The Student Newspaper of Hopkins School

    • Huggins and the class of 1961 in ninth and tenth grade

    • A collage in memory of John Huggins ’61

John Huggins: A Hopkins Black Panther

Theodore Tellides ’19 Editor-in-Chief
Meet John Huggins ’61, Hopkins Alumnus and Black Panther.
Hopkins’ past remains relatively unknown to the common student. Somewhere during the 350 year tenure, the school merged with Day Prospect Hill and dropped “Grammar” from their name. The rest is a blur. Hopkins has educated many influential young men and women, yet the vast majority graduates have been forgotten. Today one is remembered.

John Huggins was born on February 11, 1945 to a middle class African American family. His father John Huggins Sr. was the manager of the Yale Fence Club, an exclusive drinking establishment. Huggins was an avid reader as a young boy and earned a spot at Hopkins Grammar School. Huggins was one of few African Americans at the school. According to his mother Huggins felt like he did not belong: “This [sending Huggins to Hopkins] was one of our greatest mistakes. Hopkins is a school where they teach very well, but they did not know how to relate to a black student, even though they said they wanted him, and they gave him some little scholarship because of his grades.”

Huggins was interested in politics from a young age and joined the Political Union, a debate club. Frank Harris, a close friend and fellow activist, commented on Huggins’ political maturity, “He had been aware, I guess, ever since he was small going to Hopkins. He saw what was happening in the schools and stuff like that.”

Huggins’ isolation only worsened over time. Mrs. Huggins commented, “He was treated extremely badly by students, teachers, and the Headmaster, in that when crises arose there was no one at the school who could understand him or come to his aid.”

Huggins’ report cards reflect his transformation: “He started off as a bright, happy boy- as the report cards say, ‘cheerful’-and gradually as the reports came in they began to say, ‘Huggins is silent. Huggins is morose. Huggins is not smiling.’” Dejected, Huggins left Hopkins after sophomore year and transferred to James Hillhouse High School, one of the public high schools in New Haven.

Huggins enlisted in the Navy in the fall of 1962, only seventeen years old. Huggins became a class A radarman, and helped direct pilots drop bombs. Huggins questioned the purpose of the war in an editorial he wrote for an old New Haven publication, “They would bomb roads in the day, and at night hundreds of women and children would work filling up the craters with sand. So the planes would drop flares and come in low and strafe them. That was the big joke of the fleet. Here were those poor Orientals trying to fill the roads by hand and we with our machines could mow them down. I guess it showed the supremacy of White America or something.”

Huggins also endured racist comments from his fellow soldiers. He recalled, “’In the Philippines they call them ‘monkeys,’ because they’re darker and a little shorter, I guess. I just wondered what they called me behind my back.”

In early 1967 Huggins attended Lincoln College in Pennsylvania where he met his future wife, Ericka Jenkins. After a year at Lincoln College, the couple drove to California to join the Black Panthers. Huggins enrolled himself at UCLA and joined the Black Student Union. Janice Culberson, roommate of John Huggins, commented,“I loved to hear him speak; he was very articulate. And the way he would
captivate all sizes of audiences- small, large, two people, one person. He had a lot of patience, too, he had to, because some of things they’d ask him, they were ridiculous.” A fellow student described his first encounter with Huggins, “To me, Huggins didn’t really look like your average Panther. He wore the kind of clothes you would expect to see on a white hippie, thrift-store stuff...That day at UCLA, he welcomed me to the meeting with the words, ‘Glad to have you, comrade.’ I smiled and clasped his hand.”

Huggins’ popularity was not appreciated by all. Ron Karenga, a black nationalist, feared that Huggins’ presence would threaten his influence at UCLA. Rising tensions culminated in a fatal confrontation when Karenga’s men shot John Huggins and Bunchy Carter on the UCLA campus. Huggins died only twenty-three years old. A news article captured the chaos of the scene, “John Huggins caught the first dum-dum bullet in a vital blood vessel, one-eighth of an inch from his heart. It severed his aorta. John went down for dead. Terrified students pasted themselves on the floor.”

Ericka and her infant daughter, Mai, moved to New Haven in order to live with the Huggins family. Ericka founded the New Haven Black Panther Chapter, which would go on to make national headlines.
Editor in Chief 
Eleanor Doolittle

Managing Editor 
Sarah Roberts 

Zoe Kim 
Anushree Vashist
Juan Lopez
Orly Baum
Katherine Takoudes 
Julia Kosinski
Anjali Subramanian
Emmett Dowd
Lily Meyers 
Ella Zuse
Zach Williamson 

Saira Munshani
Sophie Sonnenfeld
Kallie Schmeisser

Veronica Yarovinsky
Teddy Glover
Abby Regan
Maeve Stauff
Izzy Lopez-Kalapir

Arthur Masiukiewicz 

Arushi Srivastava
Nick Hughes

Business Managers
Sophia Fitzsimonds
Sophia Cerroni 

Faculty Advisers
Jenny Nicolelli
Elizabeth Gleason
Sorrel Westbrook-Wilson 
The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
The Razor,
 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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