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Bronze Huey Newton Bust Unveiled In West Oakland Birthplace Of Black Panthers

OAKLAND (CBS SF/AP) -- A bust of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton was unveiled in Oakland over the weekend -- the first permanent public art piece honoring the party in the city of its founding.

Created by sculptor and former KPIX anchor Dana King, the bust was unveiled on Sunday on a rock at Dr. Huey P. Newton Way and Mandela Parkway. A small group of celebrants gathered in a tent in the rainy weather to honor the event.

King worked with Fredrika Newton, Huey's widow, conceiving and creating the bust.

"So we started talking," King said in a video interview with the Associated Press. "She wanted to create a plaque just talking about the building of the Panther Party and Huey's involvement. She wanted it to rest on the site where he was murdered. She came to me and asked me how to do it. Of course, I said yes, absolutely."

"I ran the numbers with the foundry, the costs and all that and said -- 'You know Fredrika for the price of the plaque, I can create a bust of Huey and his likeness can live in West Oakland'"

The two women live near each other. Fredrika said Dana "just welcomed me" into her studio.

"She shared stories of the man that he was -- we laughed, we cried together and it helped my hands to create this," King said. "I'm just so proud to be a part of this beautiful union and friendship."

Once the bust was completed, Fredrika couldn't take her eyes off of it.

"It was stunning, he looked so beautiful," she said. "It just glowed."

Panthers' antagonistic relationship with law enforcement has long cast a shadow over its legacy. In 1967, Newton was jailed for the shooting death of an Oakland police officer who had pulled him over. Although Newton was himself shot during the encounter and denied being responsible for the officer's death, he was tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1968.

While imprisoned, the "Free Huey" campaign helped make him a symbol of racial injustice in the American criminal legal system. His conviction was overturned in 1970.

He was murdered in Oakland by a drug dealer on Aug. 22, 1989. He was 47 years old.

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