Boutelle in '68

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Off-white background with red rext around the rim and black text on the bottom center; a black and white photograph of Paul Boutelle is in the center

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Paul Boutelle (1934-2016), or Kwame Montsho Ajamu Somburu, was born in 1934 in Harlem, NY. Somburu was an activist and politician who became interested in politics as a young adult. In the 1960s, Somburu was involved in many activist organizations including Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Freedom Party Now, Organization of Afro-American Unity, Afro-Americans Against the War in Vietnam, and the Socialist Workers Party. He also attended many Black Power conferences. Somburu was friends with Malcom X, and was with him at the time of his assassination. 

Somburu was the chosen candidate to represent the Freedom Now Party for the 1964 election for the New York State Senate. He then ran as a socialist candidate for the 1966 election for State Attorney General. In 1968, as represented on this button, Somburu ran as the vice presidential candidate representing the Socialist Workers Party along with the presidential candidate, Fred Halstead. While many remember Somburu as the vice presidential candidate in 1968, his son, Asi, describes that time as one of many moments in his life-long activist career. 

Somburu left school at the age of 16, and began educating himself as he was “Bored with being indoctrinated with Christianity, Capitalism, and Caucasianism,”. Referring to this time in his life, Somburu said “I have no regrets at this time over this decision. When I started to acquire a real education in my early twenties, I did not have that much brainwashing to get out of my mind”. Somburu used the information from his self education to fight for the rights of the marginalized nationally and internationally. Later, he decided to go back to school, become a teacher, and use his experience to educate public school children.


Feeley, D. (2016, July 21). Kwame M.A. Somburu (1934-2016). Solidarity. 

Socialist Workers Campaign Committee. (1968). The Socialists Candidates in 1968: Fred Halstead for President, Paul Boutelle for Vice President [Brochure]. New York, NY. 

West, E. J. (2019, November 16). Paul Boutelle’s 1968 vice-presidential campaign. AAIHS.…;


Catalog ID PO1262