A former Black Panther and avowed communist who once hijacked a plane to Cuba will give a lecture in Salt Lake City, sponsored by the John Birch Society, on America's errant path toward socialism.

Anthony Bryant, author of "Hijack," a book recounting his flight to Cuba and his 12-year incarceration there, will speak at 7:30 p.m. May 17 in the Seasons South Room in the Hilton Hotel.After joining the Black Panther Party in 1968, Bryant hijacked National Airlines Flight 97 en route from New York to Miami, a prepared release said.

Bryant expected to be welcomed in Cuba and be awarded armaments from the Castro government to "initiate guerrilla warfare for the collapse of the United States," the release said.

Instead, Bryant was jailed and, as his book recounts, witnessed beatings and executions and lived crammed in with hundreds of prisoners in small cells, eating only scraps and drinking only a cup of water a day, the release said.

Bryant is now on tour to point out "indications that America is presently being led down the road to socialism," the release said.

Local John Birch Society members are sponsoring the event. Other lectures will be held in Monticello, Manti, Ogden, Provo and St. George. Admission is $5.

For more information, call 224-8563 or 756-7327.