Seale was one of the three children born to his mother, a homemaker, and his father, a carpenter, in Dallas, Texas. After moving around in Texas, his family relocated to Oakland, California during World War II. Seale attended Berkeley High School, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955. He spent three years in the Air Force before he received a bad conduct discharge for fighting with a commanding officer. Upon his arrival back in Oakland, Seale began working at different aerospace plants as a sheet metal mechanic, and attending night school to earn his high school diploma.
In 1962, at the age of 25, Seale began attending Merritt College, a community college located on what was then Grove Street, now Martin Luther King Jr Way, near the Berkeley city-limits. There he would join the Afro-American Association, (AAA) and met Huey Newton, with whom he later co-founded the Black Panther Party. Seale and co-founder Newton became increasingly skeptical about the direction of the AAA, particularly the AAA's tendency to analyze rather than act on the problems facing black Americans.
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