Arrested in 1969 for transporting a gun across state lines, Ron O'Neal — the former chairman of the Kansas City chapter of the Black Panther Party — fled to Sweden in 1970 and then made his way to East Africa. O’Neal and his wife, Charlotte, bought four acres of land in Imbaseni, Tanzania and began running an orphanage to give local children a better life. In a revealing Los Angeles Times article and photo essay, O’Neal, who cannot return to the United States without facing a prison sentence, talks about how he has spent the last 40 years.
Now referred to as 'Mzee,' or 'Elder' by locals, the 71-year-old’s organization — the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) — provides free arts classes, schooling for the youth, an exchange program, and shelter for orphans. The center also hosts an array of visitors and celebrities. O’Neal writes, “My life has been a wild and wicked ride…” when discussing his journey from Kansas City to Tanzania. The moving piece also talks about his disdain for the U.S. government, the circumstances behind his exile, and his plans for the UAACC.
Is O’Neal’s journey unique to his life circumstances or would all American Blacks benefit from journeying across the Atlantic?