'Jeopardy!' contestants fail to answer basic Bay Area history question

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A shot of the "Jeopardy!" set for Season 37.

A shot of the "Jeopardy!" set for Season 37.

Carol Kaelson/AP

To succeed on "Jeopardy!" requires an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from ancient history to pop culture. One must be able to quote both Shakespeare and Taylor Swift, and be conversational in topics ranging from public transportation to computer science.

Not every contestant is a flame-throwing knowledge machine like Oakland champion Amy Schneider, but earning a place on the show isn't an easy task. Still, it's assumed that anyone who makes the cut is smarter than the average bear, but it turns out that not every "Jeopardy!" contestant has a grasp of basic American history.

"East Bay Yesterday" host and SFGATE Oakland columnist Liam O'Donoghue spotted a particularly egregious missed question on last night's episode. Host Ken Jennings, who currently splits duties with Mayim Bialik, posed a question from the category "tree-named places": "The Black Panther Party was founded in this Northern California city in 1966."

Jordan Davis, a private music teacher and choir director from Draper, Utah, guessed Sacramento. Iris Masucci, a pharmacist from Rockville, Maryland, thought it was San Francisco. Lisa Sriken, a lawyer from New York, didn't even field a guess.

Of course, the answer is Oakland.

Founded in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the Black Panther Party began as a local revolutionary group that protested police brutality and developed community service projects, such as providing free breakfast to Oakland schoolchildren. Their Black nationalist philosophies spread throughout the country, with chapters springing up in other major American cities. Their presence is still celebrated in Oakland, with a permanent exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California and the forthcoming Dr. Huey P. Newton Center for Research and Action, which aims to continue the group's mission and preserve its legacy.

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