Black Panther Party

Black Panther Party
Founded 1966 (1966)
Dissolved c. 1976
Ideology Marxism-Leninism, Maoism, internationalism, black nationalism
Political position Far left
International affiliation Algeria, Cuba, France
Official colors Black, Light Blue
Politics of the United States
Political parties

The Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was an African-American revolutionary left-wing organization working for the self-defense for black people. It was active in the United States from the mid-1960s into the 1970s. The Black Panther Party achieved national and international impact through their deep involvement in the Black Power movement and in US politics of the 1960s and 70s, as the intense anti-racism of the time is today considered one of the most significant social, political and cultural currents in US history. The group's "provocative rhetoric, militant posture, and cultural and political flourishes permanently altered the contours of American Identity."[1]

Founded in Oakland, California, by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton on October 15, 1966, the organization initially set forth a doctrine calling primarily for the protection of African American neighborhoods from police brutality.[2] But the Black Panther Party's objectives and philosophy expanded and evolved rapidly during the party's existence. The organization's leaders passionately espoused socialist and communist (largely Maoist) doctrines, but the Party's black nationalist reputation attracted an ideologically diverse membership.[3] Ideological consensus within the party was difficult to achieve, and some prominent members openly disagreed with the views of the leaders.

The organization's official newspaper, The Black Panther, was first circulated in 1967. Also that year, the Black Panther Party marched on the California State Capitol in Sacramento in protest of a selective ban on weapons. By 1968, the party had expanded into many cities throughout the United States, including New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, San Diego, Denver, Newark, New York City, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Membership reached 5,000 and their newspaper, under the editorial leadership of Eldridge Cleaver, had a circulation of 250,000.[4] The group created a Ten-Point Program, a document that called for "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace", as well as exemption from conscription for African-American men, among other demands.[5] With the Ten-Point program, –What we Want, What We Believe–, the Black Panther Party captured in uncompromising language the collective economic and political grievances articulated by black radicals and many black liberals since the 1930s.[6]

Gaining national prominence, the Black Panther Party became an icon of the counterculture of the 1960s.[7] Ultimately, the Panthers condemned black nationalism as "black racism" and became more focused on socialism without racial exclusivity.[8] They instituted a variety of community social programs designed to alleviate poverty and improve health among communities deemed most needful of aid. It also recognized that different minority communities (those it deemed oppressed by the US government) needed to organize around their own set of issues and encouraged alliances with such organizations.

The Black Panther Party's most influential and widely known programs were its armed citizens' patrols to evaluate behavior of police officers and its Free Breakfast for Children program. However, the group's political goals were often overshadowed by their confrontational, militant, and sometimes violent tactics against police.[9]

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party –the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,–[10] and he supervised an extensive program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, assassination, infiltration, police harassment, perjury, and a laundry list of other tactics designed to incriminate party members and drain the organization of resources and manpower. Through these tactics, it was thought that their potential for further advancement would diminish and probability of continuing to serve as a threat to the general power structure of the US, or maintain a presence as a strong undercurrent would shrink.–[11] While party membership started to decline during Huey Newton's 1968 manslaughter trial, the Black Panther Party collapsed altogether in the early 1970s. Scholars such as Angela Davis and Ward Churchill have alleged that law enforcement officials went to great lengths to discredit and destroy the organization, including assassination.[12]


[edit] Origins

African American topics
Category Portal

In 1966, Huey P. Newton was released from jail. With his friend Bobby Seale from Oakland City College, he joined a black power group called the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM). RAM had a chapter in Oakland and followed the writings of Robert F. Williams. Williams had been the president of the Monroe, North Carolina branch of the NAACP and later published a newsletter called The Crusader from China, where he fled to escape kidnapping charges.

They worked at the North Oakland Neighborhood Anti-Poverty Center, where they also served on the advisory board. To combat police brutality, the advisory board obtained 5,000 signatures in support of the City Council's setting up a police review board to review complaints. Newton was also taking classes at the City College and at San Francisco Law School. Both institutions were active in the North Oakland Center. Thus the pair had numerous connections with whom they talked about a new organization. Inspired by the success of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization and Stokely Carmichael's calls for separate black political organizations,[13] they wrote their initial platform statement, the Ten-Point Program. With the help of Huey's brother Melvin, they decided on a uniform of blue shirts, black pants, black leather jackets, black berets, and openly displayed loaded shotguns (in his studies, Newton had discovered a California law that allowed carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun in public, as long as it was publicly displayed and pointed at no one).[14]

What became standard Black Panther discourse emerged from a long history of urban activism, social criticism and political struggle by African Americans. –As inheritors of the discipline, pride, and calm self-assurance preached by Malcolm X, the panthers became national heroes in African American communities by infusing abstract nationalism with street toughness-by joining the rhythms of black working-class youth culture to the interracial lan and effervescence of Bay Area New Left politics."[11] There is often debate about the impact that the Black Panther Party had on the greater society, or even their local environment. Some feel as though their only impact was one of contention against law enforcement, as facilitators of violence, and outspoken misguided radicals. –Beyond their immediate and material impact, though, the survival programs aimed at deeper spiritual and ideological transformations among neighborhood men and women whom the Party hoped to mobilize. As models of black self-determination and pride, the programs combined self-help and education in revolutionary diction with the free-spirited, animated public displays of political commitment that had become the sine qua non of Left culture in the Bay Area.–[11] –In 1966, the Panthers defined Oakland–s ghetto as a territory, the police as interlopers, and the Panther mission as the defense of community. The Panthers' famous –policing the police– drew attention to the spatial remove that White Americans enjoyed from the state violence that had come to characterize life in black urban communities.– [11]

[edit] The Ten Point Program

The Ten Point Program was as follows:

  1. WE WANT FREEDOM. WE WANT POWER TO DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.
  2. WE WANT FULL EMPLOYMENT FOR OUR PEOPLE. We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
  3. WE WANT AN END TO THE ROBBERY BY THE CAPITALISTS OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.
  4. WE WANT DECENT HOUSING, FIT FOR THE SHELTER OF HUMAN BEINGS. We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.
  5. WE WANT DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR PEOPLE THAT EXPOSES THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS DECADENT AMERICAN SOCIETY. WE WANT EDUCATION THAT TEACHES US OUR TRUE HISTORY AND OUR ROLE IN THE PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY. We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.
  6. WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE. We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.
  7. WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR, All OPPRESSED PEOPLE INSIDE THE UNITED STATES. We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the United States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.
  8. WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL WARS OF AGGRESSION. We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.
  9. WE WANT FREEDOM FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE NOW HELD IN U. S. FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY, CITY AND MILITARY PRISONS AND JAILS. WE WANT TRIALS BY A JURY OF PEERS FOR All PERSONS CHARGED WITH SO-CALLED CRIMES UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY. We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.
  10. WE WANT LAND, BREAD, HOUSING, EDUCATION, CLOTHING, JUSTICE, PEACE AND PEOPLE'S COMMUNITY CONTROL OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY. When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are most disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.[15]

[edit] Action

"This country is a nation of thieves. It stole everything it has, beginning with black people. The U.S. cannot justify its existence as the policeman of the world any longer. I do not want to be a part of the American pie. The American pie means raping South Africa, beating Vietnam, beating South America, raping the Philippines, raping every country you–ve been in. I don–t want any of your blood money. I don–t want to be part of that system. We must question whether or not we want this country to continue being the wealthiest country in the world at the price of raping everybody else."

Stokely Carmichael, Honorary Prime Minister [16]

[edit] Survival programs

1970 BPP pamphlet combining an anti-drug message with revolutionary politics.

Inspired by Mao Zedong's advice to revolutionaries in the The Little Red Book, Newton called on the Panthers to "serve the people" and to make "survival programs" a priority within its branches. The most famous and successful of their programs was the Free Breakfast for Children Program, initially run out of an Oakland church.

Other survival programs were free services such as clothing distribution, classes on politics and economics, free medical clinics, lessons on self-defense and first aid, transportation to upstate prisons for family members of inmates, an emergency-response ambulance program, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and testing for sickle-cell disease.[17]

The BPP also founded the "Intercommunal Youth Institute" in January 1971,[18] with the intent of demonstrating how black youth ought to be educated. Ericka Huggins was the director of the school and Regina Davis was an administrator.[19] The school was unique in that it didn't have grade levels but instead had different skill levels so an 11 year old could be in second-level English and fifth-level science.[20] Elaine Brown taught reading and writing to a group of 10 to 11 year olds deemed "uneducable" by the system.[21] At the school children were given free busing; breakfast, lunch, and dinner; books and school supplies; children were taken to have medical checkups; and many children were given free clothes.[22]

[edit] Political activities

The Party briefly merged with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, headed by Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture). In 1967, the party organized a march on the California state capitol to protest the state's attempt to outlaw carrying loaded weapons in public after the Panthers had begun exercising that right. Participants in the march carried rifles. In 1968, BPP Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver ran for Presidential office on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. They were a big influence on the White Panther Party, that was tied to the Detroit/Ann Arbor band MC5 and their manager John Sinclair, author of the book Guitar Army that also promulgated a ten-point program.

[edit] Conflict with law enforcement

As the Black Panther Party was beginning to gain a national presence, the government began a crackdown on the party and its activities. Huey P. Newton was arrested for an alleged murder, which sparked a "free Huey" campaign, organized by Eldridge Cleaver to help Newton's legal defense. Newton was convicted for voluntary manslaughter, though his conviction was overturned in the 1970s.

In April 1968, the party was involved in a gun battle, in which Bobby Hutton, a Panther, was killed. Cleaver later said that he had led the Panther group on a deliberate ambush of the police officers, thus provoking the shoot-out.[23] In Chicago, two Panthers were killed in a police raid.[4]

One of the central aims of the BPP was to stop abuse by local police departments. When the party was founded in 1966, only 16 of Oakland's 661 police officers were African American.[24] Accordingly, many members questioned the Department's objectivity and impartiality. This situation was not unique to Oakland, California. Most police departments in major cities did not have proportional membership by African Americans. Throughout the 1960s, race riots and civil unrest broke out in impoverished African-American communities subject to policing by disproportionately white police departments. The work and writings of Robert F. Williams, Monroe, North Carolina NAACP chapter president and author of Negroes with Guns, also influenced the BPP's tactics.

The BPP sought to oppose police brutality through neighborhood patrols (an approach since adopted by groups such as Copwatch). Police officers were often followed by armed Black Panthers who sought at times to aid African-Americans who were victims of police brutality and racial prejudice. Both Panthers and police died as a result of violent confrontations. By 1970, 34 Panthers had died as a result of police raids, shoot-outs and internal conflict.[25] Various police organizations claim the Black Panthers were responsible for the deaths of at least 15 law enforcement officers and the injuries of dozens more. During those years, juries found several BPP members guilty of violent crimes.[26]

From 1966 to 1972, when the party was most active, several departments hired significantly more African-American police officers. During this time period, many African American police officers started to form organizations of their own to become more protective of the African American citizenry and to increase black representation on police forces.[27] However, in many police departments, African American officers often received promotions through brutality against other African Americans, causing many of them to play prominent roles in shutting down the Panthers' activities. In Chicago in 1969 for example, Panthers Mark Clark and Fred Hampton were both killed in a police raid (In which five of the officers present were African American) by Sergeant James Davis, an African American officer.[28] In cities such as New York City, black police officers were used to infiltrate Panther meetings.[26][27] By 1972, when the party disbanded, almost every major police department in the US was integrated.

Prominent member H. Rap Brown is serving life imprisonment for the 2000 murder of Ricky Leon Kinchen, a Fulton County, Georgia sheriff's deputy, and the wounding of another officer in a gunbattle. Both officers were black.[29]

[edit] Conflict with COINTELPRO

In August 1967, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) instructed its program "COINTELPRO" to "neutralize" what the FBI called "black nationalist hate groups" and other dissident groups. In September 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover described the Black Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country."[30] By 1969, the Black Panthers were the primary target of COINTELPRO. They were the target of 233 of the 295 authorized "Black Nationalist" COINTELPRO actions. The goals of the program were to prevent the unification of militant black nationalist groups and to weaken the power of their leaders, as well as to discredit the groups to reduce their support and growth. The initial targets included the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Nation of Islam. Leaders who were targeted included the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Maxwell Stanford and Elijah Muhammad.

Although COINTELPRO was commissioned ostensibly to prevent violence, it used some tactics to foster violence. For instance, the FBI tried to "intensify the degree of animosity" between the Black Panthers and the Blackstone Rangers, a Chicago gang. They sent an anonymous letter to the Ranger–s gang leader claiming that the Panthers were threatening his life, a letter whose intent was to induce "reprisals" against Panther leadership. In Southern California similar actions were taken to exacerbate a "gang war" between the Black Panther Party and a group called the US Organization. Violent conflict between these two groups, including shootings and beatings, led to the deaths of at least four Black Panther Party members. FBI agents claimed credit for instigating some of the violence between the two groups.[31]

On January 17, 1969, Los Angeles Panther Captain Bunchy Carter and Deputy Minister John Huggins were killed in Campbell Hall on the UCLA campus, in a gun battle with members of US Organization stemming from a dispute over who would control UCLA's black studies program. Another shootout between the two groups on March 17 led to further injuries. It was alleged that the FBI had sent a provocative letter to US Organization in an attempt to create antagonism between US and the Panthers.[32]

One of the most notorious actions was a Chicago Police raid of the home of Panther organizer Fred Hampton on December 4, 1969. The raid had been orchestrated by the police in conjunction with the FBI. The FBI was complicit in many of the actions. The people inside the home had been drugged by an FBI informant, William O'Neal, and were asleep at the time of the raid. Hampton was shot and killed, as was the guard, Mark Clark. The others were dragged into the street, beaten, and subsequently charged with assault. These charges were later dropped. The Chicago Police and FBI were never investigated or charged for their role in the event.[33]

In May 1969, party members tortured and murdered Alex Rackley, a 19-year-old member of the New York chapter of the Black Panther party, because they suspected him of being a police informant. Three party officers– Warren Kimbro, George Sams, Jr., and Lonnie McLucas– later admitted taking part. Sams, who gave the order to shoot Rackley at the murder scene, turned state's evidence and testified that he had received orders personally from Bobby Seale to carry out the execution. After this betrayal, party supporters alleged that Sams was himself the informant and an agent provocateur employed by the FBI.[34] The case resulted in the New Haven, Connecticut Black Panther trials of 1970, memorialized in the courtroom sketches of Robert Templeton. The trial ended with a hung jury, and the prosecution chose not to seek another trial.

[edit] Widening support

Black Panther convention, Lincoln Memorial, June 19, 1970.

Awareness of the group continued to grow, especially after the May 2, 1967 protest at the California State Assembly and the arrest of Newton in the fall of 1967.

In May 1967, the Panthers invaded the State Assembly Chamber in Sacramento, guns in hand, in what appears to have been a publicity stunt. Still, they scared a lot of important people that day. At the time, the Panthers had almost no following. Now, [a year later] however, their leaders speak on invitation almost anywhere radicals gather, and many whites wear "Honkeys for Huey" buttons, supporting the fight to free Newton, who has been in jail since last Oct. 28, [1967] on the charge that he killed a policeman..." [35]

On February 17, 1968, a large rally was held for Huey in the Oakland Auditorium. The speakers included Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and James Forman. After this event, membership grew rapidly. The structure of the group became more defined. New members had to attend a six-week training program and political education classes, largely based on Mao's Little Red Book.[36]

In 1968, the group shortened its name to the Black Panther Party and sought to focus directly on political action. Members were encouraged to carry guns and to defend themselves against violence. An influx of college students joined the group, which had consisted chiefly of "brothers off the block." This created some tension in the group. Some members were more interested in supporting the Panther's social programs, while others wanted to maintain their "street mentality". For many Panthers, the group was little more than a type of gang.[37]

Panther slogans and iconography spread. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American medalists, gave the black power salute during the playing of the American national anthem. The International Olympic Committee banned them from the Olympic Games for life. Some Hollywood celebrities, such as Jane Fonda, became involved in their leftist program. She publicly supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers in the early 1970s. The Black Panthers attracted a wide variety of left-wing revolutionaries and political activists, including writer Jean Genet, former Ramparts Magazine editor David Horowitz and left-wing lawyer Charles R. Garry, who often acted as their counsel. Survival Committees and coalitions were organized with several groups across the United States. Chief among these in Chicago was the first Rainbow Coalition formed by Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers which included Young Patriots and a Latino youth gang turned political:the Young Lords.

[edit] Controversy

[edit] Violence

From the beginning the Black Panther Party's focus on militancy came with a reputation for violence. They employed a California law which permitted carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun as long as it was publicly displayed and pointed at no one.[38] Carrying weapons openly and making threats against police officers, for example, chants like "The Revolution has co-ome, it's time to pick up the gu-un. Off the pigs!",[39] helped create the Panthers' reputation as a violent organization.

On October 17, 1967, Oakland police officer John Frey was shot to death in an altercation with Huey P. Newton during a traffic stop. In the stop, Newton and backup officer Herbert Heanes also suffered gunshot wounds. Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter at trial. This incident gained the party even wider recognition by the radical American left, and a "Free Huey" campaign ensued.[40] Newton was released after three years, when his conviction was reversed on appeal.

On May 2, 1967, the California State Assembly Committee on Criminal Procedure was scheduled to convene to discuss what was known as the "Mulford Act", which would ban public displays of loaded firearms. Cleaver and Newton put together a plan to send a group of about 30 Panthers led by Seale from Oakland to Sacramento to protest the bill. The group entered the assembly carrying their weapons, an incident which was widely publicized, and which prompted police to arrest Seale and five others. The group pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of disrupting a legislative session.[41]

On April 7, 1968, Panther Bobby Hutton was killed, and Cleaver was wounded in a shootout with the Oakland police. Each side called the event an ambush by the other. Two policemen were shot in the incident.[42]

From the fall of 1967 through the end of 1970, nine police officers were killed and 56 were wounded, and ten Panther deaths and an unknown number of injuries resulted from confrontations. In 1969 alone, 348 Panthers were arrested for a variety of crimes.[43] On February 18, 1970 Albert Wayne Williams was shot by the Portland Police Bureau outside the Black Panther party headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Though his wounds put him in a critical condition, he made a full recovery.[44]

[edit] Death of Betty van Patter

When Panther bookkeeper Betty van Patter was murdered in 1974, David Horowitz became certain that Black Panther members were responsible and denounced the Panthers. When Huey Newton was shot to death 15 years later, Horowitz characterized Newton as a killer.[45] When a former colleague at Ramparts alleged that Horowitz himself was responsible for the death of van Patter by recommending her for the position of Black Panther accountant, Horowitz counter-alleged that "the Panthers had killed more than a dozen people in the course of conducting extortion, prostitution and drug rackets in the Oakland ghetto." He said further that the organization was committed "to doctrines that are false and to causes that are demonstrably wrongheaded and even evil."[46] Former chairperson Elaine Brown also questioned Horowitz's motives in recommending van Patter to the Panthers; she suspected espionage.[47]

[edit] Decline

While part of the organization was already participating in local government and social services, another group was in constant conflict with the police. For some of the Party's supporters, the separation between political action, criminal activity, social services, access to power, and grass-roots identity became confusing and contradictory as the Panthers' political momentum was bogged down in the criminal justice system. Disagreements among the Party's leaders over how to confront these challenges led to a significant split in the Party. Some Panther leaders, such as Huey Newton and David Hilliard, favored a focus on community service coupled with self-defense; others, such as Eldridge Cleaver, embraced a more confrontational strategy. Eldridge Cleaver deepened the inevitable schism in the party when he publicly criticized the Party for adopting a "reformist" rather than "revolutionary" agenda and called for Hilliard's removal. Cleaver was expelled from the Central Committee but went on to lead a splinter group, the Black Liberation Army, which had previously existed as an underground paramilitary wing of the Party.[48]

The Party eventually fell apart due to rising legal costs and internal disputes. In 1974, Huey Newton appointed Elaine Brown as the first Chairwoman of the Party. Under Brown's leadership, the Party became involved in organizing for more radical electoral campaigns, including Brown's 1975 unsuccessful run for Oakland City Council and Lionel Wilson's successful election as the first Black mayor of Oakland. Although many scholars and activists date the Party's downfall before Brown became the leader, an increasingly smaller cadre continued to exist well into the late 1970s.[49]

In addition to changing the Party's direction towards more involvement in the electoral arena, Brown also increased the influence of women Panthers by placing them in more visible roles within the male-dominated organization. Brown's attempt to battle this previously pervasive sexism within the Party was very stressful for her and led to her dependence on Thorazine as a way to escape the pressures of leading the Party.[50]

In 1977, after Newton returned from Cuba and ordered the beating of a woman Panther who organized many of the Party's social programs, Brown decided she needed a break and left the Party.[51]

[edit] Aftermath

Black Panther 40th Reunion 2006

Since the party's decline in the late 1970's, the group has been both praised and detested by scholars. Historians oftentimes use the Black Panther Party as the paragon example of the effectiveness of counterculture grassroots movements in the 1970's. However, due to the violent acts committed by the Black Panther Party's leaders, society overwhelmingly perceives the group's actions as a negative movement.[citation needed] In a study conducted by Stanford Professor Gregory Parry and Associate Professor Ian Farmer, 86% of Americans believe the group had negative effects on America. Of the 14% of the people that thought it was a positive movement, 75% were black. [52][not in citation given]

In October 2006, the Black Panther Party held a 40-year reunion in Oakland, California.[53]

In January 2007, a joint California state and Federal task force charged eight men with the 1971 murder of a California police officer.[54] The defendants have been identified as former members of the Black Liberation Army. Two have been linked to the Black Panthers.[55] In 1975 a similar case was dismissed when a judge ruled that police gathered evidence through the use of torture.[56] On June 29, 2009 Herman Bell pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Sgt. Young. In July 2009, charges were dropped against four of the accused: Ray Boudreaux, Henry W. Jones, Richard Brown and Harold Taylor. Also that month Jalil Muntaquim pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter becoming the second person to be convicted in this case.[57]

[edit] New Black Panther Party

In 1989, a group calling itself the "New Black Panther Party" was formed in Dallas, Texas. Ten years later, the NBPP became home to many former Nation of Islam members when the chairmanship was taken by Khalid Abdul Muhammad.

The Anti-Defamation League and The Southern Poverty Law Center consider the New Black Panthers as a hate group.[58] Members of the original Black Panther Party have insisted that this New Black Panther Party is illegitimate and have strongly objected that there "is no new Black Panther Party".[59]

[edit] The National Alliance of Black Panthers

The National Alliance of Black Panthers was formed on July 31, 2004. It was inspired by the grassroots activism of the original organization but not otherwise related. Its chairwoman is Shazza Nzingha.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ , Curtis. Life of A Party. Crisis ; Sep/Oct2006, Vol. 113 Issue 5, p30-37, 8p
  2. ^ "Black Panther Party". Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  3. ^ Jessica Christina Harris. Revolutionary Black Nationalism: The Black Panther Party." Journal of Negro History, Vol. 85, No. 3 (Summer, 2000), pp. 162-174
  4. ^ a b Asante, Molefi K. (2005). Encyclopedia of Black Studies. Sage Publications Inc.. pp. 135–137. ISBN 076192762X. 
  5. ^ Newton, Huey (1966-10-15). "The Ten-Point Program". War Against the Panthers. Retrieved 2006-06-05. 
  6. ^ Lazerow, Jama; Yohuru R. Williams (2006). In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement. Duke University: Duke University 46
  7. ^ [|Da Costa, Francisco]. "The Black Panther Party". Retrieved 2006-06-05. 
  8. ^ Seale, Bobby (September 1997). Seize the Time (Reprint ed.). Black Classic Press. pp. 23, 256, 383. 
  9. ^ Westneat, Danny (2005-06-01). "Reunion of Black Panthers stirs memories of aggression, activism". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2006-06-05. 
  10. ^ Black Panthers Facts
  11. ^ a b c d Lazerow, Jama; Yohuru R. Williams (2006). In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement. Duke University: Duke University Press.
  12. ^ The Angela Y. Davis Reader, p.11, "[P]olice, assisted by federal agents, had killed or assassinated over twenty black revolutionaries in the Black Panther Party." She cites on page 23 (citation # 26) Joanne Grant, Ward Churchill and Jim Van der Wall (see below), and Clayborne Carson. (Davis, Angela Yves. The Angela Y. Davis Reader Blackwell Publishers (1998))
  13. ^ Lowndes County Freedom Organization | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed
  14. ^ For more on this, see Pearson 1994, page 109
  15. ^
  16. ^ Contemporary American Voices: Significant Speeches in American History: 1945-Present, by James Robertson Andrews & David Zarefsky, Longman, 1992, pg 105
  17. ^ Reunion of Black Panthers stirs memories of aggression, activism
  18. ^ Jones, Charles Earl. The Black Panther Reconsidered . Black Classic Press, 1998. Pg. 186
  19. ^ Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992. Pg.391
  20. ^ Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992. Pg. 391
  21. ^ Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. 1st ed.. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992. Pg.392
  22. ^ Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. 1st ed.. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992. Pg.393
  23. ^ Kate Coleman, 1980, "Souled Out: Eldridge Cleaver Admits He Ambushed Those Cops." New West Magazine.
  24. ^ The Black Panthers by Jessica McElrath, published as a part of, accessed on December 17, 2005.
  25. ^ from an interview with Kathleen Cleaver on May 7, 2002 published by the PBS program P.O.V. and being published in Introduction to Black Panther 1968: Photographs by Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones, (Greybull Press). Black Panthers 1968
  26. ^ a b The Officer Down Memorial
  27. ^ a b The Anguish of Blacks in Blue
  28. ^ Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, File Number 44-HQ-44202, available at [1] and [2], accessed on March 15, 2010.
  29. ^ End of Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center
  30. ^ Stohl, Michael. The Politics of Terrorism CRC Press. Page 249
  31. ^ Gentry, Curt, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. W. W. Norton & Company (2001) page 622
  32. ^ [3]
  33. ^ The FBI's involvement is noted in the Church Committee Report on page 223. A full description of the night's events can be found in Rod Bush, We Are Not What We Seem: Black Nationalism and Class Struggle in the American Century. New York University Press (March, 2000) p. 216
  34. ^ Edward Jay Epstein, The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide?. New Yorker (February 13, 1971) [4]
  35. ^ Black Panthers: A Taut, Violent Drama St. Petersburg Times, Sunday, July 21, 1968 Special to the St. Petersburg Times from the New York Times
  36. ^ Pearson 1994, page 176
  37. ^ Pearson 1994, page 175
  38. ^ Pearson 1994, page 109
  39. ^ David Farber. The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s. p. 207. 
  40. ^ Pearson 1994, page 3
  41. ^ Pearson 1994, 129
  42. ^ A discussion of the event can be found in Epstein, Edward Jay. The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide? The New Yorker, (February 13, 1971) page 4 (Accessed here June 8, 2007)
  43. ^ Pearson 1994, page 206 discusses many of these events, including a partial list from the summer of 1968 through the end of 1970
  44. ^ The Oregonian Vol CX-34175
  45. ^ David Horowitz's claim about van Patten's death is often discussed on blogs. It is mentioned in an American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research book review of Horowitz's Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey called All's Left in the World. Horowitz's credibility as a critic of the left and especially of the Black Panther Party is called into question in Elaine Brown's The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America. Beacon Press (February 15, 2003) pg. 250-251.
  46. ^ Horowitz, David. "Who Killed Betty Van Patter?" 13 December 1999. [5]
  47. ^ Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman–s Story. (New York: Doubleday, 1992).
  48. ^ Marxist Internet Archive: The Black Panther Party
  49. ^ Perkins, Margo V. Autobiography As Activism: Three Black Women of the Sixties. University Press of Mississippi. Jackson,2000. p. 5.
  50. ^ Perkins, Margo V. Autobiography As Activism: Three Black Women of the Sixties. University Press of Mississippi. Jackson,2000. p. 5, 13.
  51. ^ Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. Double Day. New York, 1992. pp. 444-450.
  52. ^ [6]
  53. ^ Photos of the Black Panther Party, Oakland 2006
  54. ^ Ex-militants charged in S.F. police officer's '71 slaying at station (via SFGate)
  55. ^ Black Liberation Army tied to 1971 slaying (via USA Today)
  56. ^ 8 arrested in 1971 cop-killing tied to Black Panthers (via Los Angeles Times)
  57. ^ 2nd guilty plea in 1971 killing of S.F. officer (via SFGate)
  58. ^
  59. ^ Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation. "There Is No New Black Panther Party: An Open Letter From the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation". 

[edit] Bibliography

  • Austin, Curtis J. (2006). Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-827-5
  • Brown, Elaine. (1993). A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. Anchor Books. ISBN 0-679-41944-6
  • Dooley, Brian. (1998). Black and Green: The Fight for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland and Black America. Pluto Press.
  • Forbes, Flores A. (2006). Will You Die With Me? My Life and the Black Panther Party. Atria Books. ISBN 0-7434-8266-2
  • Hilliard, David, and Cole, Lewis. (1993). This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party. Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 0-316-36421-5
  • Hughey, Matthew W. (2009). –Black Aesthetics and Panther Rhetoric– A Critical Decoding of Black Masculinity in The Black Panther, 1967-1980.– Critical Sociology, 35(1): 29-56.
  • Hughey, Matthew W. (2007). –The Pedagogy of Huey P. Newton: Critical Reflections on Education in his Writings and Speeches.– Journal of Black Studies, 38(2): 209-231.
  • Hughey, Matthew W. (2005).–The Sociology, Pedagogy, and Theology of Huey P. Newton: Toward a Radical Democratic Utopia.– Western Journal of Black Studies, 29(3): 639-655.
  • Joseph, Peniel E. (2006). Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-7539-9
  • Lewis, John. (1998). Walking with the Wind. Simon and Schuster, p. 353. ISBN 0-684-81065-4
  • Ogbar, Jeffrey O. G. (2004). Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Pearson, Hugh. (1994) The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America De Capo Pres. ISBN 0-201-48341-6
  • Phu, T. N. (2008). "Shooting the Movement: Black Panther Party Photography and African American Protest Traditions". Canadian Review of American Studies 38 (1): 165–189. doi:10.3138/cras.38.1.165. 
  • Shames, Stephen. "The Black Panthers," Aperture, 2006. A photographic essay of the organization, allegedly suppressed due to Spiro Agnew's intervention in 1970.

[edit] External links

  • official website according to the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation.
News articles
Laudatory links
Critical links

Related topics in the Connexions Subject Index

Alternatives  –  Left History  –  Libraries & Archives  –  Social Change  – 

This article is based on one or more articles in Wikipedia, with modifications and additional content contributed by Connexions editors. This article, and any information from Wikipedia, is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

We welcome your help in improving and expanding the content of Connexipedia articles, and in correcting errors. Connexipedia is not a wiki: please contact Connexions by email if you wish to contribute. We are also looking for contributors interested in writing articles on topics, persons, events and organizations related to social justice and the history of social change movements.

For more information contact Connexions