The Intercommunal Youth Institute was established in January 1971 by the Black Panther Party. In 1974, the name was changed to Oakland Community School. The Black Panther Party goal was to get children to learn to their highest potential and to strengthen their minds so that one day they would be successful. The school graduated its first class in June 1974. In September 1977, California Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown Jr. and the California Legislature gave Oakland Community School a special award for “having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state.”
The Oakland Community School (OCS) was one of the most well-known and well-loved programs of the Black Panther Party. Point Five of the Black Panther Party’s original 1966 Ten Point Platform and Program, emphasized the need to provide an education that, among other things, taught African American and poor people about their history in the United States. To this end, the Oakland Community School became a locale for a small, but powerful group of administrators, educators, and elementary school students whose actions to empower youth and their families challenged existing public education concepts for black and other poor and racially marginalized communities during the 1970s and 1980s.