One can never be too proud about a new set of underwear and a crafting kit. Exeon Carroll (15) and Zaynesha Carroll (13) show some of their loot. (Photo by Dylan Deprey)

Four years ago, King Rick, the original Black Panther of Milwaukee general and Carl Williams, his confidant and second in command, pooled together their own money to take a family shopping for the holiday season. The children had lost a parent to gun violence, and the two wanted to show them a little love during the holiday.

The next year they took it to the next level and helped out several families. The Shopping with a Panther event became Williams’ favorite event of the year. He loved wandering around Walmart with the kids. He’d laugh and smile as Lego sets and footy pajamas piled onto an already toppling cart.

Right before the event last year, Williams funded a family to take a little solo shopping trip because he loved giving back to those that needed it the most in the community.

Decisions, decisions. Derihana Turner decides between colors while picking out new clothes. (Photo by Dylan Deprey)

Unfortunately, Williams died several days later. It was the same day as the Third Annual Shopping with a Panther event.

As a dedication to the Rock n’ Roll pastor himself, the Original Black Panthers across the country celebrated the Fourth Annual Carl F. Williams Shopping with a Panther event on Dec. 28, 2019.

“He was a very integral part of this, and the community,” King Rick said.

“He was my confidant and best friend, and we are going to continue on because that is what he would want us to do. The community needs us and deserves us.”

The event was held on Ujima, the third day of Kwanzaa. The African American holiday was created to focus on bettering oneself and their community, and Ujima was about collective work and responsibility.

Ai’Rianna, Audreyana and Grandma meander through the toy aisle. (Photo by Dylan Deprey)

“We want to work together and be responsible for our community. We are taking care and looking after the community, and it’s a blessing,” King Rick said.

Four families participated in the event this year, and they each got $200 to split amongst the children.

The only rule—spend it all.

The kids were a little older this year, so the focus wasn’t solely centered on the toy aisle compared to year’s past. Whether it was a new set of socks and underwear, DVD’s from the $5 bin or a PlayStation controller, the kids were sticking to the rules and loading their carts at the Brown Deer Walmart.

Carrie Scott-Haney brought her two granddaughters Audreyanna and Ai’Rianna Scott. It was their second time doing the event.

Another successful Shopping with a Panther event. (Photo courtesy Original Black Panthers of Milwaukee)

“The first time they did this, their Panther was Carl Williams, and they still refer to him as Grandpa Carl,” Scott-Haney said. “We’ll miss him. We love all the good things the Black Panthers do.”

As the Scott sisters strolled up and down the toy aisles contemplating the vast variety of options, they were all smiles and laughs.

“I think this is cool because whenever I get to go to the store, my grandma says, ‘No put it back!’” said Ai’Rianna.

Audreyana said that after the initial loss and grieving, children that have lost their parents can be forgotten during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

“I think it helps raise awareness for people like us who have lost parents to gun violence,” she said. “It feels good to be noticed.”

King Rick said the event was really a show of appreciation for those that have experienced the painful loss of losing a parent. He said the Original Black Panther’s mantra was “The complete village is our family,” and the event completely immortalized it.

Though it has been a somber time during the year anniversary of Williams’ death, King Rick said the Panther’s would continue to push on.

“We’ve just taken the energy Carl has given us as an ancestor and put it into motion,” King Rick said.