Black Panther Party

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"Black Panthers" redirects here. Black Panther Party_sentence_0

For other uses, see Black panther (disambiguation). Black Panther Party_sentence_1

Not to be confused with the New Black Panther Party, the New Afrikan Black Panther Party or the Revolutionary Black Panther Party. Black Panther Party_sentence_2

Black Panther Party_table_infobox_0

Black Panther PartyBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_0_0
AbbreviationBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_1_0 BPPBlack Panther Party_cell_0_1_1
LeaderBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_2_0 Huey NewtonBlack Panther Party_cell_0_2_1
FoundedBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_3_0 1966; 54 years ago (1966)Black Panther Party_cell_0_3_1
DissolvedBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_4_0 1982; 38 years ago (1982)Black Panther Party_cell_0_4_1
HeadquartersBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_5_0 Oakland, CaliforniaBlack Panther Party_cell_0_5_1
NewspaperBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_6_0 The Black PantherBlack Panther Party_cell_0_6_1
MembershipBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_7_0 c. 5,000 (1969)Black Panther Party_cell_0_7_1
IdeologyBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_8_0 Black Panther Party_cell_0_8_1
Political positionBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_9_0 Far-leftBlack Panther Party_cell_0_9_1
ColorsBlack Panther Party_header_cell_0_10_0 BlackBlack Panther Party_cell_0_10_1

The Black Panther Party (BPP), originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a Black Power political organization founded by college students Bobby Seale (Chairman) and Huey P. Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California. Black Panther Party_sentence_3

The party was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982, with chapters in numerous major cities, and international chapters in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, and in Algeria from 1969 to 1972. Black Panther Party_sentence_4

At its inception on October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party's core practice was its open carry armed citizens' patrols ("copwatching") to monitor the behavior of officers of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality in the city. Black Panther Party_sentence_5

In 1969, a variety of community social programs became a core activity. Black Panther Party_sentence_6

The Party instituted the Free Breakfast for Children Programs to address food injustice, and community health clinics for education and treatment of diseases including sickle cell anemia, tuberculosis, and later HIV/AIDS. Black Panther Party_sentence_7

Black Panther Party members were involved in many fatal firefights with police. Black Panther Party_sentence_8

Newton declared: Black Panther Party_sentence_9

Huey Newton allegedly killed officer John Frey in 1967, and Eldridge Cleaver (Minister of Information) led an ambush in 1968 of Oakland police officers, in which two officers were wounded and Panther Bobby Hutton (Treasurer) was killed. Black Panther Party_sentence_10

FBI infiltrators caused the party to suffer many internal conflicts, resulting in the murders of Alex Rackley and Betty Van Patter. Black Panther Party_sentence_11

In 1967, the Mulford Act was passed by the California legislature and signed by governor Ronald Reagan. Black Panther Party_sentence_12

The bill was crafted in response to members of the Black Panther Party who were copwatching. Black Panther Party_sentence_13

The bill repealed a law that allowed public carrying of loaded firearms. Black Panther Party_sentence_14

In 1969, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Black Panther Party_sentence_15 Edgar Hoover described the party as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country." Black Panther Party_sentence_16

He developed and supervised an extensive counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment, and many other tactics, designed to undermine Panther leadership, incriminate and assassinate party members, discredit and criminalize the Party, and drain organizational resources and manpower. Black Panther Party_sentence_17

The program was responsible for the assassination of Fred Hampton, and is accused of assassinating other Black Panther members, including Mark Clark. Black Panther Party_sentence_18

Government persecution initially contributed to the party's growth, as killings and arrests of Panthers increased its support among African Americans and the broad political left, who both valued the Panthers as a powerful force opposed to de facto segregation and the military draft. Black Panther Party_sentence_19

The party enrolled the most members and had the most influence in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Philadelphia. Black Panther Party_sentence_20

There were active chapters in many prisons, at a time when an increasing number of young African-American men were being incarcerated. Black Panther Party_sentence_21

Black Panther Party membership reached a peak in 1970, with offices in 68 cities and thousands of members, but it began to decline over the following decade. Black Panther Party_sentence_22

After its leaders and members were vilified by the mainstream press, public support for the party waned, and the group became more isolated. Black Panther Party_sentence_23

In-fighting among Party leadership, fomented largely by the FBI's COINTELPRO operation, led to expulsions and defections that decimated the membership. Black Panther Party_sentence_24

Popular support for the Party declined further after reports of the group's alleged criminal activities, such as drug dealing and extortion of Oakland merchants. Black Panther Party_sentence_25

By 1972 most Panther activity centered on the national headquarters and a school in Oakland, where the party continued to influence local politics. Black Panther Party_sentence_26

Though under constant police surveillance, the Chicago chapter also remained active and maintained their community programs until 1974. Black Panther Party_sentence_27

The Seattle chapter persisted longer than most, with a breakfast program and medical clinics that continued even after the chapter disbanded in 1977. Black Panther Party_sentence_28

The Party continued to dwindle throughout the 1970s, and by 1980 had just 27 members. Black Panther Party_sentence_29

The Party's history is controversial. Black Panther Party_sentence_30

Scholars have characterized the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organization of the late 1960s, and "the strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American imperialism". Black Panther Party_sentence_31

Other commentators have described the Party as more criminal than political, characterized by "defiant posturing over substance". Black Panther Party_sentence_32

History Black Panther Party_section_0

Origins Black Panther Party_section_1

During World War II, tens of thousands of blacks left the Southern states during the Second Great Migration, moving to Oakland and other cities in the Bay Area to find work in the war industries such as Kaiser Shipyards. Black Panther Party_sentence_33

The sweeping migration transformed the Bay Area as well as cities throughout the West and North, altering the once white-dominated demographics. Black Panther Party_sentence_34

A new generation of young blacks growing up in these cities faced new forms of poverty and racism unfamiliar to their parents, and they sought to develop new forms of politics to address them. Black Panther Party_sentence_35

Black Panther Party membership "consisted of recent migrants whose families traveled north and west to escape the southern racial regime, only to be confronted with new forms of segregation and repression". Black Panther Party_sentence_36

In the early 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement had dismantled the Jim Crow system of racial caste subordination in the South with tactics of non-violent civil disobedience, and demanding full citizenship rights for black people. Black Panther Party_sentence_37

However, not much changed in the cities of the North and West. Black Panther Party_sentence_38

As the wartime and post-war jobs which drew much of the black migration "fled to the suburbs along with white residents", the black population was concentrated in poor "urban ghettos" with high unemployment and substandard housing, and was mostly excluded from political representation, top universities, and the middle class. Black Panther Party_sentence_39

Northern and Western police departments were almost all white. Black Panther Party_sentence_40

In 1966, only 16 of Oakland's 661 police officers were African American (less than 2.5%). Black Panther Party_sentence_41

Civil rights tactics proved incapable of redressing these conditions, and the organizations that had "led much of the nonviolent civil disobedience", such as SNCC and CORE, went into decline. Black Panther Party_sentence_42

By 1966 a "Black Power ferment" emerged, consisting largely of young urban blacks, posing a question the Civil Rights Movement could not answer: "How would black people in America win not only formal citizenship rights, but actual economic and political power?" Black Panther Party_sentence_43

Young black people in Oakland and other cities developed study groups and political organizations, and from this ferment the Black Panther Party emerged. Black Panther Party_sentence_44

Founding the Black Panther Party Black Panther Party_section_2

In late October 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense). Black Panther Party_sentence_45

In formulating a new politics, they drew on their work with a variety of Black Power organizations. Black Panther Party_sentence_46

Newton and Seale first met in 1962 when they were both students at Merritt College. Black Panther Party_sentence_47

They joined Donald Warden's Afro-American Association, where they read widely, debated, and organized in an emergent black nationalist tradition inspired by Malcolm X and others. Black Panther Party_sentence_48

Eventually dissatisfied with Warden's accommodationism, they developed a revolutionary anti-imperialist perspective working with more active and militant groups like the Soul Students Advisory Council and the Revolutionary Action Movement. Black Panther Party_sentence_49

Their paid jobs running youth service programs at the North Oakland Neighborhood Anti-Poverty Center allowed them to develop a revolutionary nationalist approach to community service, later a key element in the Black Panther Party's "community survival programs." Black Panther Party_sentence_50

Dissatisfied with the failure of these organizations to directly challenge police brutality and appeal to the "brothers on the block", Huey and Bobby took matters into their own hands. Black Panther Party_sentence_51

After the police killed Matthew Johnson, an unarmed young black man in San Francisco, Newton observed the violent insurrection that followed. Black Panther Party_sentence_52

He had an epiphany that would distinguish the Black Panther Party from the multitude of Black Power organizations. Black Panther Party_sentence_53

Newton saw the explosive rebellious anger of the ghetto as a social force, and believed that if he could stand up to the police, he could organize that force into political power. Black Panther Party_sentence_54

Inspired by Robert F. Williams' armed resistance to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and Williams' book Negroes with Guns, Newton studied gun laws in California extensively. Black Panther Party_sentence_55

Like the Community Alert Patrol in Los Angeles after the Watts Rebellion, he decided to organize patrols to follow the police around to monitor for incidents of brutality. Black Panther Party_sentence_56

But with a crucial difference: his patrols would carry loaded guns. Black Panther Party_sentence_57

Huey and Bobby raised enough money to buy two shotguns by buying bulk quantities of the recently publicized Little Red Book and reselling them to leftist and liberals on the Berkeley campus at three times the price. Black Panther Party_sentence_58

According to Bobby Seale, they would "sell the books, make the money, buy the guns, and go on the streets with the guns. Black Panther Party_sentence_59

We'll protect a mother, protect a brother, and protect the community from the racist cops." Black Panther Party_sentence_60

On October 29, 1966, Stokely Carmichael – a leader of SNCC – championed the call for "Black Power" and came to Berkeley to keynote a Black Power conference. Black Panther Party_sentence_61

At the time, he was promoting the armed organizing efforts of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) in Alabama and their use of the Black Panther symbol. Black Panther Party_sentence_62

Newton and Seale decided to adopt the Black Panther logo and form their own organization called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Black Panther Party_sentence_63

Newton and Seale decided on a uniform of blue shirts, black pants, black leather jackets, black berets. Black Panther Party_sentence_64

Sixteen-year-old Bobby Hutton was their first recruit. Black Panther Party_sentence_65

Late 1966 to early 1967 Black Panther Party_section_3

Chronology Black Panther Party_section_4

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_0

  • October 15, 1966: The BPP is founded. A few months later, they begin their first police-watching patrols.Black Panther Party_item_0_0
  • January 1967: The BPP opens its first official headquarters in an Oakland storefront, and publishes the first issue of The Black Panther: Black Community News Service.Black Panther Party_item_0_1
  • February 1967: BPP members serve as security escorts for Betty Shabazz.Black Panther Party_item_0_2
  • April 1967: Denzil Dowell protest in Richmond.Black Panther Party_item_0_3
  • May 2, 1967: Thirty people representing the BPP go to California state capitol with guns, attracting the Party's first national media attention.Black Panther Party_item_0_4

Oakland patrols of police Black Panther Party_section_5

The initial tactic of the party utilized contemporary open-carry gun laws to protect Party members when policing the police. Black Panther Party_sentence_66

This act was done in order to record incidents of police brutality by distantly following police cars around neighborhoods. Black Panther Party_sentence_67

When confronted by a police officer, Party members cited laws proving they had done nothing wrong and threatened to take to court any officer that violated their constitutional rights. Black Panther Party_sentence_68

Between the end of 1966 to the start of 1967, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense's armed police patrols in Oakland black communities attracted a small handful of members. Black Panther Party_sentence_69

Numbers grew slightly starting in February 1967, when the party provided an armed escort at the San Francisco airport for Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X's widow and keynote speaker for a conference held in his honor. Black Panther Party_sentence_70

The Black Panther Party's focus on militancy was often construed as open hostility, feeding a reputation of violence even though early efforts by the Panthers focused primarily on promoting social issues and the exercise of their legal right to carry arms. Black Panther Party_sentence_71

The Panthers employed a California law that permitted carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun as long as it was publicly displayed and pointed at no one. Black Panther Party_sentence_72

Generally this was done while monitoring and observing police behavior in their neighborhoods, with the Panthers arguing that this emphasis on active militancy and openly carrying their weapons was necessary to protect individuals from police violence. Black Panther Party_sentence_73

For example, chants like "The Revolution has come, it's time to pick up the gun. Black Panther Party_sentence_74

Off the pigs! Black Panther Party_sentence_75

", helped create the Panthers' reputation as a violent organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_76

Rallies in Richmond, California Black Panther Party_section_6

The black community of Richmond, California, wanted protection against police brutality. Black Panther Party_sentence_77

With only three main streets for entering and exiting the neighborhood, it was easy for police to control, contain, and suppress the population. Black Panther Party_sentence_78

On April 1, 1967, a black unarmed twenty-two-year-old construction worker named Denzil Dowell was shot dead by police in North Richmond. Black Panther Party_sentence_79

Dowell's family contacted the Black Panther Party for assistance after county officials refused to investigate the case. Black Panther Party_sentence_80

The Party held rallies in North Richmond that educated the community on armed self-defense and the Denzil Dowell incident. Black Panther Party_sentence_81

Police seldom interfered at these rallies because every Panther was armed and no laws were broken. Black Panther Party_sentence_82

The Party's ideals resonated with several community members, who then brought their own guns to the next rallies. Black Panther Party_sentence_83

Protest at the Statehouse Black Panther Party_section_7

Awareness of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense grew rapidly after their May 2, 1967 protest at the California State Assembly. Black Panther Party_sentence_84

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 make the public carrying of loaded firearms illegal. Black Panther Party_sentence_85

Newton, with Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver, put together a plan to send a group of 26 armed Panthers led by Seale from Oakland to Sacramento to protest the bill. Black Panther Party_sentence_86

The group entered the assembly carrying their weapons, an incident which was widely publicized, and which prompted police to arrest Seale and five others. Black Panther Party_sentence_87

The group pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disrupting a legislative session. Black Panther Party_sentence_88

Ten-point program Black Panther Party_section_8

Main article: Ten-Point Program Black Panther Party_sentence_89

The Black Panther Party first publicized its original "What We Want Now!" Black Panther Party_sentence_90

Ten-Point program on May 15, 1967, following the Sacramento action, in the second issue of The Black Panther newspaper. Black Panther Party_sentence_91

Black Panther Party_ordered_list_1

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.Black Panther Party_item_1_5
  2. We want full employment for our people.Black Panther Party_item_1_6
  3. We want an end to the robbery by the Capitalists of our Black Community.Black Panther Party_item_1_7
  4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.Black Panther Party_item_1_8
  5. We want 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.Black Panther Party_item_1_9
  6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.Black Panther Party_item_1_10
  7. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.Black Panther Party_item_1_11
  8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.Black Panther Party_item_1_12
  9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black Communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.Black Panther Party_item_1_13
  10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.Black Panther Party_item_1_14

Late 1967 to early 1968 Black Panther Party_section_9

Chronology Black Panther Party_section_10

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_2

  • July 1967: United Front Against Fascism conference held in Oakland.Black Panther Party_item_2_15
  • August 1967: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiates its program "COINTELPRO" to "neutralize . . . black nationalist hate groups".Black Panther Party_item_2_16
  • October 28, 1967: Huey Newton allegedly kills police officer John Frey. There are fewer than one hundred Party members.Black Panther Party_item_2_17
  • Early Spring 1968: Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice published.Black Panther Party_item_2_18
  • April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King assassinated. Riots break out nationwide.Black Panther Party_item_2_19
  • April 6, 1968: A team of Panthers led by Eldridge Cleaver ambushes Oakland police officers. Panther Bobby Hutton killed.Black Panther Party_item_2_20

United Front Against Fascism Black Panther Party_section_11

In July 1969 the BPP organized the United Front Against Fascism conference in Oakland, which was attended by around 5,000 people representing a number of groups. Black Panther Party_sentence_92

COINTELPRO Black Panther Party_section_12

In August 1967, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) instructed its program "COINTELPRO" to "neutralize ... black nationalist hate groups" and other dissident groups. Black Panther Party_sentence_93

In September 1968, FBI Director J. Black Panther Party_sentence_94 Edgar Hoover described the Black Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country". Black Panther Party_sentence_95

By 1969, the Black Panthers and their allies had become primary COINTELPRO targets, singled out in 233 of the 295 authorized "Black Nationalist" COINTELPRO actions. Black Panther Party_sentence_96

The goals of the program were to prevent unification of militant black nationalist groups and to weaken their leadership, as well as to discredit them to reduce their support and growth. Black Panther Party_sentence_97

The initial targets included the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Nation of Islam, as well as leaders including the Rev. Black Panther Party_sentence_98

Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, H. Black Panther Party_sentence_99 Rap Brown, Maxwell Stanford and Elijah Muhammad. Black Panther Party_sentence_100

COINTELPRO attempted to create rivalries between black nationalist factions, and to exploit existing ones. Black Panther Party_sentence_101

One such attempt was to "intensify the degree of animosity" between the Black Panthers and the Blackstone Rangers, a Chicago street gang. Black Panther Party_sentence_102

The FBI sent an anonymous letter to the Rangers' gang leader claiming that the Panthers were threatening his life, a letter whose intent was to provoke "preemptive" violence against Panther leadership. Black Panther Party_sentence_103

In Southern California, the FBI made similar efforts to exacerbate a "gang war" between the Black Panther Party and a black nationalist group called the US Organization, allegedly sending a provocative letter to the US Organization to increase existing antagonism. Black Panther Party_sentence_104

COINTELPRO also aimed to dismantle the Black Panther Party by targeting their social/community programs, most prominently Free Breakfast for Children. Black Panther Party_sentence_105

The success of Free Breakfast served to "shed light on the government's failure to address child poverty and hunger—pointing to the limits of the nation's War on Poverty". Black Panther Party_sentence_106

As the Party taught and provided for children more effectively than the government, the FBI denounced their efforts as a means of indoctrination. Black Panther Party_sentence_107

"Police and Federal Agents regularly harassed and intimidated program participants, supporters, and Party workers and sought to scare away donors and organizations that housed the programs like churches and community centers". Black Panther Party_sentence_108

Huey Newton charged with murdering John Frey Black Panther Party_section_13

On October 28, 1967, Oakland police officer John Frey was shot to death in an altercation with Huey P. Newton during a traffic stop in which Newton and backup officer Herbert Heanes also suffered gunshot wounds. Black Panther Party_sentence_109

Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter at trial, but the conviction was later overturned. Black Panther Party_sentence_110

In his book Shadow of the Panther, writer Hugh Pearson alleges that Newton was intoxicated in the hours before the incident, and claimed to have willfully killed John Frey. Black Panther Party_sentence_111

Free Huey! campaign Black Panther Party_section_14

At the time, Newton claimed that he had been falsely accused, leading to the Party's "Free Huey!" Black Panther Party_sentence_112

campaign. Black Panther Party_sentence_113

The police killing gained the party even wider recognition by the radical American left. Black Panther Party_sentence_114

Newton was released after three years, when his conviction was reversed on appeal. Black Panther Party_sentence_115

As Newton awaited trial, the "Free Huey" campaign developed alliances with numerous students and anti-war activists, "advancing an anti-imperialist political ideology that linked the oppression of antiwar protestors to the oppression of blacks and Vietnamese". Black Panther Party_sentence_116

The "Free Huey" campaign attracted black power organizations, New Left groups, and other activist groups such as the Progressive Labor Party, Bob Avakian of the Community for New Politics, and the Red Guard. Black Panther Party_sentence_117

For example, the Black Panther Party collaborated with the Peace and Freedom Party, which sought to promote a strong antiwar and antiracist politics in opposition to the establishment democratic party. Black Panther Party_sentence_118

The Black Panther Party provided needed legitimacy to the Peace and Freedom Party's racial politics and in return received invaluable support for the "Free Huey" campaign. Black Panther Party_sentence_119

Founding of the L.A. Chapter Black Panther Party_section_15

In 1968 the southern California chapter was founded by Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter in Los Angeles. Black Panther Party_sentence_120

Carter was the leader of the Slauson street gang, and many of the LA chapter's early recruits were Slausons. Black Panther Party_sentence_121

Killing of Bobby Hutton Black Panther Party_section_16

Bobby Hutton was born April 21, 1950 in Jefferson County Arkansas. Black Panther Party_sentence_122

At the age of three, he and his family moved to Oakland, California after being harassed by racist vigilante groups associated with the Ku Klux Klan. Black Panther Party_sentence_123

In December 1966, he became the first treasurer and recruit of the Black Panther Party at the age of just 16 years old. Black Panther Party_sentence_124

He became the first member of the party to be killed by police. Black Panther Party_sentence_125

On April 6, 1968, two days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and with riots raging across cities in United States, the 17-year-old Hutton was traveling with Eldridge Cleaver and other BPP members in a car. Black Panther Party_sentence_126

The group confronted Oakland Police officers, then fled to an apartment building where they engaged in a 90-minute gun battle with the police. Black Panther Party_sentence_127

The standoff ended with Cleaver wounded and Hutton voluntarily surrendering. Black Panther Party_sentence_128

According to Cleaver, although Hutton had stripped down to his underwear and had his hands raised in the air to prove that he was unarmed, Oakland Police shot Hutton more than 12 times, killing him. Black Panther Party_sentence_129

Two police officers were also shot. Black Panther Party_sentence_130

Although at the time the BPP claimed that the police had ambushed them, several party members later admitted that Cleaver had led the Panther group on a deliberate ambush of the police officers, provoking the shoot-out. Black Panther Party_sentence_131

Seven other Panthers, including Chief of Staff David Hilliard, were also arrested. Black Panther Party_sentence_132

Hutton's death became a rallying issue for Panther supporters. Black Panther Party_sentence_133

Late 1968 Black Panther Party_section_17

Chronology Black Panther Party_section_18

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_3

  • April to mid-June 1968: Cleaver in jail.Black Panther Party_item_3_21
  • Mid-July 1968: Huey Newton's murder trial commences. Panthers hold daily "Free Huey" rallies outside the courthouse.Black Panther Party_item_3_22
  • August 5, 1968: Three Panthers killed in a gun battle with police at a Los Angeles gas station.Black Panther Party_item_3_23
  • Early September 1968: Newton convicted of manslaughter.Black Panther Party_item_3_24
  • Late September 1968: Days before he is due to return to prison to serve out a rape conviction, Cleaver flees to Cuba and later Algeria.Black Panther Party_item_3_25
  • October 5, 1968: A Panther is killed in a gunfight with police in Los Angeles.Black Panther Party_item_3_26
  • November 1968: The BPP finds numerous supporters, establishing relationships with the Peace and Freedom Party and SNCC. Money contributions flow in, and BPP leadership begins embezzlement.Black Panther Party_item_3_27
  • November 6, 1968: Lauren Watson, head of the Denver chapter, is arrested by Denver Police for fleeing a police officer and resisting arrest. His trial will be filmed and televised in 1970 as "Trial: The City and County of Denver vs. Lauren R. Watson."Black Panther Party_item_3_28
  • November 20, 1968: William Lee Brent and two accomplices in a van marked "Black Panther Black Community News Service" allegedly rob a gas station in San Francisco's Bayview district of $80, resulting in a shootout with police.Black Panther Party_item_3_29

In 1968, the group shortened its name to the Black Panther Party and sought to focus directly on political action. Black Panther Party_sentence_134

Members were encouraged to carry guns and to defend themselves against violence. Black Panther Party_sentence_135

An influx of college students joined the group, which had consisted chiefly of "brothers off the block". Black Panther Party_sentence_136

This created some tension in the group. Black Panther Party_sentence_137

Some members were more interested in supporting the Panthers' social programs, while others wanted to maintain their "street mentality". Black Panther Party_sentence_138

By 1968, the Party had expanded into many U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Newark, New Orleans, New York City, Omaha, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toledo, and Washington, D.C. Peak membership was near 5,000 by 1969, and their newspaper, under the editorial leadership of Eldridge Cleaver, had a circulation of 250,000. Black Panther Party_sentence_139

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 black men, among other demands. Black Panther Party_sentence_140

With the Ten-Point program, "What We Want, What We Believe", the Black Panther Party expressed its economic and political grievances. Black Panther Party_sentence_141

Curtis Austin states that by late 1968, Black Panther ideology had evolved from black nationalism to become more a "revolutionary internationalist movement": Black Panther Party_sentence_142

Panther slogans and iconography spread. Black Panther Party_sentence_143

At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American medalists, gave the black power salute during the American national anthem. Black Panther Party_sentence_144

The International Olympic Committee banned them from all future Olympic Games. Black Panther Party_sentence_145

Film star Jane Fonda publicly supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers during the early 1970s. Black Panther Party_sentence_146

She actually ended up informally adopting the daughter of two Black Panther members, Mary Luana Williams. Black Panther Party_sentence_147

Fonda and other Hollywood celebrities became involved in the Panthers' leftist programs. Black Panther Party_sentence_148

The Panthers attracted a wide variety of left-wing revolutionaries and political activists, including writer Jean Genet, former Ramparts magazine editor David Horowitz (who later became a major critic of what he describes as Panther criminality) and left-wing lawyer Charles R. Garry, who acted as counsel in the Panthers' many legal battles. Black Panther Party_sentence_149

The BPP adopted a "Serve the People" program, which at first involved a free breakfast program for children. Black Panther Party_sentence_150

By the end of 1968, the BPP had established 38 chapters and branches, claiming more than five thousand members. Black Panther Party_sentence_151

Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver left the country days before Cleaver was to turn himself in to serve the remainder of a thirteen-year sentence for a 1958 rape conviction. Black Panther Party_sentence_152

They settled in Algeria. Black Panther Party_sentence_153

By the end of the year, party membership peaked at around 2,000. Black Panther Party_sentence_154

Party members engaged in criminal activities such as extortion, stealing, violent discipline of BPP members, and robberies. Black Panther Party_sentence_155

The BPP leadership took one third of the proceeds from robberies committed by BPP members. Black Panther Party_sentence_156

Survival programs Black Panther Party_section_19

Inspired by Mao Zedong's advice to revolutionaries in The Little Red Book, Newton called on the Panthers to "serve the people" and to make "survival programs" a priority within its branches. Black Panther Party_sentence_157

The most famous of their programs was the Free Breakfast for Children Program, initially run out of an Oakland church. Black Panther Party_sentence_158

The Free Breakfast For Children program was especially significant because it served as a space for educating youth about the current condition of the Black community, and the actions that the Party was taking to address that condition. Black Panther Party_sentence_159

"While the children ate their meal[s], members [of the Party] taught them liberation lessons consisting of Party messages and Black history." Black Panther Party_sentence_160

Through this program, the Party was able to influence young minds, and strengthen their ties to communities as well as gain widespread support for their ideologies. Black Panther Party_sentence_161

The breakfast program became so popular that the Panthers Party claimed to have fed twenty thousand children in the 1968–69 school year. Black Panther Party_sentence_162

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. Black Panther Party_sentence_163

The free medical clinics were very significant because they modeled an idea of how the world might work with free medical care, eventually being established in 13 places across the country. Black Panther Party_sentence_164

These clinics were involved in community-based health care that had roots connected to the Civil Rights Movement, which made it possible to establish the Medical Committee for Human Rights. Black Panther Party_sentence_165

Political activities Black Panther Party_section_20

In 1968, BPP Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver ran for Presidential office on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. Black Panther Party_sentence_166

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. Black Panther Party_sentence_167

1969 Black Panther Party_section_21

Chronology Black Panther Party_section_22

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_4

  • Early 1969: In late 1968 and January 1969, the BPP began to purge members due to fears about law enforcement infiltration and various petty disagreements.Black Panther Party_item_4_30
  • January 14, 1969: The Los Angeles chapter was involved in a shootout with members of the black nationalist US Organization, and two Panthers are killed.Black Panther Party_item_4_31
  • January 1969: The Oakland BPP begins the first free breakfast program for children.Black Panther Party_item_4_32
  • March 1969: There is a second purge of BPP members.Black Panther Party_item_4_33
  • April 1969: Members of the New York chapter, known as the Panther 21 are indicted and jailed for a bombing conspiracy. All would eventually be acquitted.Black Panther Party_item_4_34
  • May 1969: Two more southern California Panthers are killed in violent disputes with US Organization members.Black Panther Party_item_4_35
  • May 1969: Members of the New Haven chapter torture and murder Alex Rackley, who they suspected of being an informant.Black Panther Party_item_4_36
  • July 17, 1969: Two policemen are shot and a Panther is killed in a gun battle in Chicago.Black Panther Party_item_4_37
  • Late July 1969: The BPP ideology undergoes a shift, with a turn toward self-discipline and anti-racism.Black Panther Party_item_4_38
  • August 1969: Bobby Seale is indicted and imprisoned in relation to the Rackley murder.Black Panther Party_item_4_39
  • October 18, 1969: A Panther is killed in a gunfight with police outside a Los Angeles restaurant.Black Panther Party_item_4_40
  • Mid-to-late 1969: COINTELPRO activity increases.Black Panther Party_item_4_41
  • November 13, 1969: A Panther is killed in a gunfight with police in Chicago.Black Panther Party_item_4_42
  • December 4, 1969: Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are killed by law enforcement in Chicago.Black Panther Party_item_4_43
  • Late 1969: David Hilliard, current BPP head, advocates violent revolution. Panther membership is down significantly from the late 1968 peak.Black Panther Party_item_4_44

Shoot-out with the US Organization Black Panther Party_section_23

Violent conflict between the Panther chapter in LA and the US Organization, a black nationalist group, resulted in shootings and beatings, and led to the murders of at least four Black Panther Party members. Black Panther Party_sentence_168

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 the US Organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_169

Another shootout between the two groups on March 17 led to further injuries. Black Panther Party_sentence_170

Two more Panthers died. Black Panther Party_sentence_171

Black Panther Party Liberation Schools Black Panther Party_section_24

Paramount to their beliefs regarding the need for individual agency in order to catalyze community change, the Black Panther Party (BPP) strongly supported the education of the masses. Black Panther Party_sentence_172

As part of their Ten-Point Program which set forth the ideals and goals of the party, they demanded an equitable education for all black people. Black Panther Party_sentence_173

Number 5 of the "What We Want Now!" Black Panther Party_sentence_174

section of the program reads: "We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. Black Panther Party_sentence_175

We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society." Black Panther Party_sentence_176

In order to ensure that this occurred, the Black Panther Party took the education of their youth in their own hands by first establishing after-school programs and then opening up Liberation Schools in a variety of locations throughout the country which focused their curriculum on Black history, writing skills, and political science. Black Panther Party_sentence_177

Intercommunal Youth Institute Black Panther Party_sentence_178

The first Liberation School was opened by the Richmond Black Panthers in July 1969 with brunch served and snacks provided to students. Black Panther Party_sentence_179

Another school was opened in Mt. Black Panther Party_sentence_180

Vernon New York on July 17 of the subsequent year. Black Panther Party_sentence_181

These schools were informal in nature and more closely resembled after-school or summer programs. Black Panther Party_sentence_182

While these campuses were the first to open, the first full-time and longest-running Liberation school was opened in January 1971 in Oakland in response to the inequitable conditions in the Oakland Unified School District which was ranked one of the lowest scoring districts in California. Black Panther Party_sentence_183

Named the Intercommunal Youth Institute (IYI), this school, under the directorship of Brenda Bay, and later, Ericka Huggins, enrolled twenty-eight students in its first year, with the majority being the children of Black Panther parents. Black Panther Party_sentence_184

This number grew to fifty by the 1973–1974 school year. Black Panther Party_sentence_185

In order to provide full support for Black Panther parents whose time was spent organizing, some of the students and faculty members lived together year around. Black Panther Party_sentence_186

The school itself was dissimilar to traditional schools in a variety of ways including the fact that students were separated by academic performance rather than age and students were often provided one on one support as the faculty to student ratio was 1:10. Black Panther Party_sentence_187

The Panther's goal in opening Liberation Schools, and specifically the Intercommunal Youth Institute, was to provide students with an education that wasn't being provided in the "white" schools, as the public schools in the district employed a eurocentric assimilationist curriculum with little to no attention to black history and culture. Black Panther Party_sentence_188

While students were provided with traditional courses such as English, Math, and Science, they were also exposed to activities focused on class structure and the prevalence of institutional racism. Black Panther Party_sentence_189

The overall goal of the school was to instill a sense of revolutionary consciousness in the students. Black Panther Party_sentence_190

With a strong belief in experiential learning, students had the opportunity to participate in community service projects as well as practice their writing skills by drafting letters to political prisoners associated with the Black Panther Party. Black Panther Party_sentence_191

Huggins is noted as saying, "I think that the school's principles came from the socialist principles we tried to live in the Black Panther Party. Black Panther Party_sentence_192

One of them being critical thinking—that children should learn not what to think but how to think ... the school was an expression of the collective wisdom of the people who envisioned it. Black Panther Party_sentence_193

And it was ... a living thing [that] changed every year. Black Panther Party_sentence_194

Funding for the Intercommunal Youth Institute was provided through a combination of Black Panther fundraising and community support. Black Panther Party_sentence_195

Oakland Community School Black Panther Party_sentence_196

In 1974, due to increased interest in enrolling in the school, school officials decided to move to a larger facility and subsequently changed the school's name to Oakland Community School. Black Panther Party_sentence_197

During this year, the school graduated its first class. Black Panther Party_sentence_198

Although the student population continued to grow ranging between 50 and 150 between 1974–1977, the original core values of individualized instruction remained. Black Panther Party_sentence_199

In September 1977, the school received a special award from Governor Edmund Brown Jr. and the California Legislature for "having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state. Black Panther Party_sentence_200

The school eventually closed in 1982 due to governmental pressure on party leadership which caused insufficient membership and funds to continue running the school. Black Panther Party_sentence_201

Killing of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark Black Panther Party_section_25

In Chicago, on December 4, 1969, two Panthers were killed when the Chicago Police raided the home of Panther leader Fred Hampton. Black Panther Party_sentence_202

The raid had been orchestrated by the police in conjunction with the FBI. Black Panther Party_sentence_203

Hampton was shot and killed, as was Panther guard Mark Clark. Black Panther Party_sentence_204

A federal investigation reported that only one shot was fired by the Panthers, and police fired at least 80 shots. Black Panther Party_sentence_205

The only shot fired by the Panthers was from Mark Clark, who appeared to fire a single round determined to be the result of a reflexive death convulsion after he was immediately struck in the chest by shots from the police at the start of the raid. Black Panther Party_sentence_206

Hampton was sleeping next to his pregnant fiancée, and was subsequently shot twice in the head at point blank range while unconscious. Black Panther Party_sentence_207

Coroner reports show that Hampton was drugged with a powerful barbiturate that night, and would have been unable to have been awoken by the sounds of the police raid. Black Panther Party_sentence_208

His body was then dragged into the hallway. Black Panther Party_sentence_209

He was 21 years old and unarmed at the time of his death. Black Panther Party_sentence_210

Seven other Panthers sleeping at the house at the time of the raid were then beaten and seriously wounded, then arrested under charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder of the officers involved in the raid. Black Panther Party_sentence_211

These charges would later be dropped. Black Panther Party_sentence_212

Cook County State's Attorney Edward Hanrahan announced to the media later that the Panthers were first to shoot in the interaction and that they showed a "refusal to cease firing... when urged to do so several times." Black Panther Party_sentence_213

New York Times reporting would later demonstrate that this was not in fact the case and found a great deal of fake evidence being used by Chicago Police to assert their claims. Black Panther Party_sentence_214

Former FBI agent Wesley Swearingen asserts that the Bureau was guilty of a "plot to murder" the Panthers. Black Panther Party_sentence_215

Hampton had been slipped the barbiturates which had left him unconscious by William O'Neal, who had been working as an FBI informant. Black Panther Party_sentence_216

Hanrahan, his assistant and eight Chicago police officers were indicted by a federal grand jury over the raid, but the charges were later dismissed. Black Panther Party_sentence_217

In 1979 civil action, Hampton's family won $1.85 million from the city of Chicago in a wrongful death settlement. Black Panther Party_sentence_218

Torture-murder of Alex Rackley Black Panther Party_section_26

In May 1969, three members of the New Haven chapter tortured and murdered Alex Rackley, a 19-year-old member of the New York chapter, because they suspected him of being a police informant. Black Panther Party_sentence_219

Three party officers—Warren Kimbro, George Sams, Jr., and Lonnie McLucas—later admitted taking part. Black Panther Party_sentence_220

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. Black Panther Party_sentence_221

Party supporters responded that Sams was himself the informant and an agent provocateur employed by the FBI. Black Panther Party_sentence_222

The case resulted in the New Haven Black Panther trials of 1970. Black Panther Party_sentence_223

Kimbro and Sams were convicted of the murder, but the trials of Seale and Ericka Huggins ended with a hung jury, and the prosecution chose not to seek another trial. Black Panther Party_sentence_224

International ties Black Panther Party_section_27

Activists from many countries around the globe supported the Panthers and their cause. Black Panther Party_sentence_225

In Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Finland, for example, left-wing activists organized a tour for Bobby Seale and Masai Hewitt in 1969. Black Panther Party_sentence_226

At each destination along the tour, the Panthers talked about their goals and the "Free Huey!" Black Panther Party_sentence_227

campaign. Black Panther Party_sentence_228

Seale and Hewitt made a stop in Germany as well, gaining support for the "Free Huey!" Black Panther Party_sentence_229

campaign. Black Panther Party_sentence_230

1970 Black Panther Party_section_28

Chronology Black Panther Party_section_29

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_5

  • January 1970: Leonard Bernstein holds a fundraiser for the BPP, which was notoriously mocked by Tom Wolfe in Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.Black Panther Party_item_5_45
  • Spring 1970: The Oakland BPP engages in another ambush of police officers with guns and fragmentation bombs. Two officers are wounded.Black Panther Party_item_5_46
  • May 1970: Huey Newton's conviction is overturned, but he remains incarcerated.Black Panther Party_item_5_47
  • July 1970: Newton tells The New York Times that "we've never advocated violence".Black Panther Party_item_5_48
  • August 1970: Newton is released from prison.Black Panther Party_item_5_49

In 1970, a group of Panthers traveled through Asia and they were welcomed as guests of the governments of North Vietnam, North Korea, and China. Black Panther Party_sentence_231

The group's first stop was in North Korea, where the Panthers met with local officials in order to discuss ways in which they could help each other fight against American imperialism. Black Panther Party_sentence_232

Eldridge Cleaver traveled to Pyongyang twice in 1969 and 1970, and following these trips he made an effort to publicize the writings and works of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung in the United States. Black Panther Party_sentence_233

After leaving North Korea, the group traveled to North Vietnam with the same agenda in mind: finding ways to put an end to American imperialism. Black Panther Party_sentence_234

Eldridge Cleaver was invited to speak to Black GIs by the North Vietnamese government. Black Panther Party_sentence_235

He encouraged them to join the Black Liberation Struggle by arguing that the United States government was only using them for its own purposes. Black Panther Party_sentence_236

Instead of risking their lives on the battlefield for a country that continued to oppress them, Cleaver believed that the black GIs should risk their lives in support of their own liberation. Black Panther Party_sentence_237

After leaving Vietnam, Cleaver met with the Chinese ambassador to Algeria in order to express their mutual animosity towards the American government. Black Panther Party_sentence_238

When Algeria held its first Pan-African Cultural Festival, they invited many important figures from the United States. Black Panther Party_sentence_239

Among the important figures invited to the festival were Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver. Black Panther Party_sentence_240

The cultural festival allowed Black Panthers to network with representatives of various international anti-imperialist movements. Black Panther Party_sentence_241

This was a significant time, which led to the formation of the International Section of the Party. Black Panther Party_sentence_242

It is at this festival that Cleaver met with the ambassador of North Korea, who later invited him to an International Conference of Revolutionary Journalists in Pyongyang. Black Panther Party_sentence_243

Eldridge also met with Yasser Arafat, and gave a speech supporting the Palestinians and their goal of achieving liberation. Black Panther Party_sentence_244

1971 Black Panther Party_section_30

Chronology Black Panther Party_section_31

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_6

  • January 1971: Newton expels Geronimo Pratt who, since 1970, had been in jail facing a pending murder charge. Newton also expels two of the New York 21 and his own secretary, Connie Matthews, who flee the country.Black Panther Party_item_6_50
  • February 1971: a fall-out between Newton and Cleaver ensues after they argue during a live broadcast link-up. Newton expels Cleaver and the entire international section from the party.Black Panther Party_item_6_51
  • Spring 1971: the Newton and Cleaver factions engage in retaliatory assassinations of each other's members, resulting in the deaths of four people.Black Panther Party_item_6_52
  • May 1971: Bobby Seale is acquitted of ordering the Rackley murder, and returns to Oakland.Black Panther Party_item_6_53
  • Mid-to-late 1971: nationally, hundreds of Party members quit the BPP.Black Panther Party_item_6_54
  • Late-September 1971: Newton visits and stays in China for 10 days.Black Panther Party_item_6_55

Newton focuses the BPP on the Party's Oakland school and various other social service programs. Black Panther Party_sentence_245

In early 1971, the BPP founded the "Intercommunal Youth Institute" in January 1971, with the intent of demonstrating how black youth ought to be educated. Black Panther Party_sentence_246

Ericka Huggins was the director of the school and Regina Davis was an administrator. Black Panther Party_sentence_247

The school was unique in that it did not have grade levels but instead had different skill levels so an 11-year-old could be in second-level English and fifth-level science. Black Panther Party_sentence_248

Elaine Brown taught reading and writing to a group of 10- to 11-year-olds deemed "uneducable" by the system. Black Panther Party_sentence_249

The school children were given free busing; breakfast, lunch, and dinner; books and school supplies; children were taken to have medical checkups; many children were given free clothes. Black Panther Party_sentence_250

Split Black Panther Party_section_32

Significant disagreements among the Party's leaders over how to confront ideological differences led to a split within the party. Black Panther Party_sentence_251

Certain members felt that the Black Panthers should participate in local government and social services, while others encouraged constant conflict with the police. Black Panther Party_sentence_252

For some of the Party's supporters, the separations among 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. Black Panther Party_sentence_253

These (and other) disagreements led to a split. Black Panther Party_sentence_254

Some Panther leaders, such as Huey P. Newton and David Hilliard, favored a focus on community service coupled with self-defense; others, such as Eldridge Cleaver, embraced a more confrontational strategy. Black Panther Party_sentence_255

Eldridge Cleaver deepened the schism in the party when he publicly criticized the Party for adopting a "reformist" rather than "revolutionary" agenda and called for Hilliard's removal. Black Panther Party_sentence_256

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. Black Panther Party_sentence_257

The split turned violent, as the Newton and Cleaver factions carried out retaliatory assassinations of each other's members, resulting in the deaths of four people. Black Panther Party_sentence_258

Delegation to China Black Panther Party_section_33

In late September 1971, Huey P. Newton led a delegation to China and stayed for 10 days. Black Panther Party_sentence_259

At every airport in China, Huey was greeted by thousands of people waving copies of the Little Red Book and displaying signs that said "we support the Black Panther Party, down with US imperialism" or "we support the American people but the Nixon imperialist regime must be overthrown". Black Panther Party_sentence_260

During the trip the Chinese arranged for him to meet and have dinner with a DPRK ambassador, a Tanzanian ambassador, and delegations from both North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. Black Panther Party_sentence_261

Huey was under the impression he was going to meet Mao Zedong, but instead had two meetings with the first Premier of the People's Republic of China Zhou Enlai. Black Panther Party_sentence_262

One of these meetings also included Mao Zedong's wife Jiang Qing. Black Panther Party_sentence_263

Huey described China as "a free and liberated territory with a socialist government". Black Panther Party_sentence_264

1972–74 Black Panther Party_section_34

Chronology Black Panther Party_section_35

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_7

  • Early 1972: Newton shuts down chapters around the country, and calls the key members to Oakland.Black Panther Party_item_7_56
  • Mid-1972: BPP members or supporters win a number of minor offices in the Oakland city elections.Black Panther Party_item_7_57
  • 1973: The BPP focuses nearly all of its resources on winning political power in the Oakland city government. Seale runs for mayor; Elaine Brown runs for city council. Both lose, and many Party members resign after the losses.Black Panther Party_item_7_58
  • Early 1974: Newton embarks on a major purge, expelling Bobby and John Seale, David and June Hilliard, Robert Bay, and numerous other top party leaders. Dozens of other Panthers loyal to Seale resigned or deserted.Black Panther Party_item_7_59
  • August 1974: Newton murders Kathleen Smith, a teenage prostitute. He flees to Cuba. Elaine Brown takes over the leadership in his absence.Black Panther Party_item_7_60
  • December 1974: Accountant Betty van Patter is murdered, after threatening to disclose irregularities in the Party's finances.Black Panther Party_item_7_61

Newton solidifies control and centralizes power in Oakland Black Panther Party_section_36

In 1972, the party began closing down dozens of chapters and branches all over the country, and bringing members and operations to Oakland. Black Panther Party_sentence_265

The political arm of the southern California chapter was shut down and its members moved to Oakland, although the underground military arm remained for a time. Black Panther Party_sentence_266

The underground remnants of the LA chapter, which had emerged from the Slausons street gang, eventually re-emerged as the Crips, a street gang who at first advocated social reform before devolving into racketeering. Black Panther Party_sentence_267

The party developed a five-year plan to take over the city of Oakland politically. Black Panther Party_sentence_268

Bobby Seale ran for mayor, Elaine Brown ran for city council, and other Panthers ran for minor offices. Black Panther Party_sentence_269

Neither Seale nor Brown were elected. Black Panther Party_sentence_270

A few Panthers won seats on local government commissions. Black Panther Party_sentence_271

Minister of Education Ray "Masai" Hewitt created the Buddha Samurai, the party's underground security cadre in Oakland. Black Panther Party_sentence_272

Newton expelled Hewitt from the party later in 1972, but the security cadre remained in operation under the leadership of Flores Forbes. Black Panther Party_sentence_273

One of the cadre's main functions was to extort and rob drug dealers and after-hours clubs. Black Panther Party_sentence_274

Newton indicted for violent crimes Black Panther Party_section_37

In 1974, Huey Newton and eight other Panthers were arrested and charged with assault on police officers. Black Panther Party_sentence_275

Newton went into exile in Cuba to avoid prosecution for the murder of Kathleen Smith, an eighteen-year-old prostitute. Black Panther Party_sentence_276

Newton was also indicted for pistol-whipping his tailor, Preston Callins. Black Panther Party_sentence_277

Although Newton confided to friends that Kathleen Smith was his "first nonpolitical murder", he was ultimately acquitted, after one witness's testimony was impeached by her admission that she had been smoking marijuana on the night of the murder, and another prostitute witness recanted her testimony. Black Panther Party_sentence_278

Newton was also acquitted of assaulting Preston Callins after Callins refused to press charges. Black Panther Party_sentence_279

1974–77 Black Panther Party_section_38

The Panthers under Elaine Brown Black Panther Party_section_39

In 1974, as Huey Newton prepared to go into exile in Cuba, he appointed Elaine Brown as the first Chairwoman of the Party. Black Panther Party_sentence_280

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. Black Panther Party_sentence_281

The Party supported Lionel Wilson in his successful election as the first black mayor of Oakland, in exchange for Wilson's assistance in having criminal charges dropped against Party member Flores Forbes, leader of the Buddha Samurai cadre. Black Panther Party_sentence_282

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 previously male-dominated organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_283

Death of Betty van Patter Black Panther Party_section_40

Panther leader Elaine Brown hired Betty Van Patter in 1974 as a bookkeeper. Black Panther Party_sentence_284

Van Patter had previously served as a bookkeeper for Ramparts magazine, and was introduced to the Panther leadership by David Horowitz, who had been the editor of Ramparts and a major fundraiser and board member for the Panther school. Black Panther Party_sentence_285

Later that year, after a dispute with Brown over financial irregularities, Van Patter went missing on December 13, 1974. Black Panther Party_sentence_286

Some weeks later, her severely beaten corpse was found on a San Francisco Bay beach. Black Panther Party_sentence_287

There was insufficient evidence for police to charge anyone with van Patter's murder, but the Black Panther Party leadership was "almost universally believed to be responsible". Black Panther Party_sentence_288

Huey Newton later allegedly confessed to a friend that he had ordered Van Patter's murder, and that Van Patter had been tortured and raped before being killed. Black Panther Party_sentence_289

1977–82 Black Panther Party_section_41

Return of Huey Newton and the demise of the party Black Panther Party_section_42

In 1977, Newton returned from exile in Cuba, and received complaints from male members about the excessive power of women in the organization, who now outnumbered men. Black Panther Party_sentence_290

According to Elaine Brown, Newton authorized the physical punishment of school administrator Regina Davis for scolding a male coworker. Black Panther Party_sentence_291

Davis was hospitalized with a broken jaw. Black Panther Party_sentence_292

Brown said "The beating of Regina would be taken as a clear signal that the words 'Panther' and 'comrade' had taken a gender on gender connotation, denoting an inferiority in the female half of us." Black Panther Party_sentence_293

Brown resigned from the party and fled to LA. Black Panther Party_sentence_294

Although many scholars and activists date the Party's downfall to the period before Brown's leadership, a shrinking cadre of Panthers struggled through the 1970s. Black Panther Party_sentence_295

By 1980, Panther membership had dwindled to 27, and the Panther-sponsored school closed in 1982 amid a scandal over Newton embezzling funds for his drug addiction. Black Panther Party_sentence_296

Panthers attempt to assassinate a witness against Newton Black Panther Party_section_43

In October 1977 Flores Forbes, the party's assistant chief of staff, led a botched attempt to assassinate Crystal Gray, a key prosecution witness in Newton's upcoming trial, who had been present the day of Kathleen Smith's murder. Black Panther Party_sentence_297

After attacking the wrong house by mistake, the occupant returned fire and killed one of the Panthers, Louis Johnson, while the other two assailants escaped. Black Panther Party_sentence_298

One of them, Flores Forbes, fled to Las Vegas, Nevada, with the help of Panther paramedic Nelson Malloy. Black Panther Party_sentence_299

Fearing that Malloy would discover the truth behind the botched assassination attempt, Newton allegedly ordered a "house cleaning", and Malloy was shot and buried alive in the desert. Black Panther Party_sentence_300

Although permanently paralyzed from the waist down, Malloy escaped and told police that fellow Panthers Rollin Reid and Allen Lewis were behind his attempted murder. Black Panther Party_sentence_301

Newton denied any involvement or knowledge and said the events "might have been the result of overzealous party members". Black Panther Party_sentence_302

Newton was ultimately acquitted of the murder of Kathleen Smith, after Crystal Gray's testimony was impeached by her admission that she had smoked marijuana on the night of the murder, and he was acquitted of assaulting Preston Callins after Callins refused to press charges. Black Panther Party_sentence_303

Women and womanism Black Panther Party_section_44

From its beginnings, the Black Panther Party championed black masculinity and traditional gender roles. Black Panther Party_sentence_304

A notice in the first issue of The Black Panther newspaper proclaimed the all-male organization as "the cream of Black Manhood ... there for the protection and defense of our Black community". Black Panther Party_sentence_305

Scholars consider the Party's stance of armed resistance highly masculine, with guns and violence proving manhood. Black Panther Party_sentence_306

In 1968, several articles urged female Panthers to "stand behind black men" and be supportive. Black Panther Party_sentence_307

The first woman to join the party was Joan Tarika Lewis, in 1967. Black Panther Party_sentence_308

Nevertheless, women were present in the party from the early days and expanded their roles throughout its life. Black Panther Party_sentence_309

Women often joined to fight against unequal gender norms. Black Panther Party_sentence_310

By 1969, the Party newspaper officially instructed male Panthers to treat female Party members as equals, a drastic change from the idea of the female Panther as subordinate. Black Panther Party_sentence_311

The same year, Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois chapter conducted a meeting condemning sexism. Black Panther Party_sentence_312

After 1969, the Party considered sexism counter-revolutionary. Black Panther Party_sentence_313

The Black Panthers adopted a womanist ideology responding to the unique experiences of African-American women, emphasizing racism as more oppressive than sexism. Black Panther Party_sentence_314

Womanism was a mix of black nationalism and the vindication of women, putting race and community struggle before the gender issue. Black Panther Party_sentence_315

Womanism posited that traditional feminism failed to include race and class struggle in its denunciation of male sexism and was therefore part of white hegemony. Black Panther Party_sentence_316

In opposition to some feminist viewpoints, womanism promoted a vision of gender roles: that men are not above women, but hold a different position in the home and community, so men and women must work together for the preservation of African-American culture and community. Black Panther Party_sentence_317

Henceforth, the Party newspaper portrayed women as intelligent political revolutionaries, exemplified by members such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and Erika Huggins. Black Panther Party_sentence_318

The Black Panther Party newspaper often showed women as active participants in the armed self-defense movement, picturing them with children and guns as protectors of home, family and community. Black Panther Party_sentence_319

Police killed or incarcerated many male leaders, but female Panthers were less targeted for much of the 1960s and 1970s. Black Panther Party_sentence_320

By 1968, women made up two-thirds of the party, while many male members were out of duty. Black Panther Party_sentence_321

In the absence of much of the original male leadership, women moved into all parts of the organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_322

Roles included leadership positions, implementing community programs, and uplifting the black community. Black Panther Party_sentence_323

Women in the group called attention to sexism within the Party, and worked to make changes from within. Black Panther Party_sentence_324

From 1968 to the end of its publication in 1982, the head editors of the Black Panther Party newspaper were all women. Black Panther Party_sentence_325

In 1970, approximately 40% to 70% of Party members were women, and several chapters, like the Des Moines, Iowa, and New Haven, Connecticut, were headed by women. Black Panther Party_sentence_326

During the 1970s, recognizing the limited access poor women had to abortion, the Party officially supported women's reproductive rights, including abortion. Black Panther Party_sentence_327

That same year, the Party condemned and opposed prostitution. Black Panther Party_sentence_328

Many women Panthers began to demand childcare to be able to fully participate in the organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_329

The Party responded by establishing on-site child development centers in multiple US chapters. Black Panther Party_sentence_330

"Childcare became largely a group activity", with children raised collectively, in accord with the Panther's commitment to collectivism and the African-American extended-family tradition. Black Panther Party_sentence_331

Childcare allowed women Panthers to embrace motherhood while fully participating in Party activism. Black Panther Party_sentence_332

The Party experienced significant problems in several chapters with sexism and gender oppression, particularly in the Oakland chapter where cases of sexual harassment and gender conflict were common. Black Panther Party_sentence_333

When Oakland Panthers arrived to bolster the New York City Panther chapter after 21 New York leaders were incarcerated, they displayed such chauvinistic attitudes towards New York Panther women that they had to be fended off at gunpoint. Black Panther Party_sentence_334

Some Party leaders thought the fight for gender equality was a threat to men and a distraction from the struggle for racial equality. Black Panther Party_sentence_335

In response, the Chicago and New York chapters, among others, established equal gender rights as a priority and tried to eradicate sexist attitudes. Black Panther Party_sentence_336

By the time the Black Panther Party disbanded, official policy was to reprimand men who violated the rules of gender equality. Black Panther Party_sentence_337

Gender dynamics Black Panther Party_section_45

In the beginning, recruiting women was a low priority for Newton and Seale. Black Panther Party_sentence_338

Seale stated in an interview that Newton targeted "brothers who had been pimping, brothers who had been peddling dope, brothers who ain't gonna take no shit, brothers who had been fighting the pigs". Black Panther Party_sentence_339

Also, they didn't realize that women could help the fight until one came into an interest meeting asking about "female leadership". Black Panther Party_sentence_340

Regina Jennings recalls that many male leaders had an "unchecked" sexism problem and her task was to "lift the bedroom out of their minds." Black Panther Party_sentence_341

She remembers overhearing members: "Some concluded that the FBI sent me, but the captain assured them with salty good humor that, 'She's too stupid to be from the FBI.' Black Panther Party_sentence_342

He thought my cover and my comments too honest, too loud, and too ridiculous to be serious." Black Panther Party_sentence_343

She recalls her days in Oakland, California as a teenager looking for something to do to add purpose to her life and to her community. Black Panther Party_sentence_344

She grew up around police brutality, so it was nothing new. Black Panther Party_sentence_345

Her goal in joining was "smashing racism" because she viewed herself as Black before she was a woman. Black Panther Party_sentence_346

In her community, that identity is what she felt held her back the most. Black Panther Party_sentence_347

Women's role Black Panther Party_section_46

The Black Panther Party was involved in many community projects as part of their organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_348

These projects included community outreach, like the breakfast program, education, and health programs. Black Panther Party_sentence_349

In many cases women were the ones primarily involved with administering these types of programs. Black Panther Party_sentence_350

From the beginning of the Black Panther Party education was a fundamental goal of the organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_351

This was highlighted in the Ten Point Platform, the newspaper that was distributed by the party, and the public commentary shared by the Panthers. Black Panther Party_sentence_352

The newspaper was one of the primary and original consciousness raising and educational measures taken by the party. Black Panther Party_sentence_353

Despite the fact that men were out distributing the newspaper, women like Elaine Brown and Kathleen Cleaver were behind the scenes working on those papers. Black Panther Party_sentence_354

Elaine Brown Black Panther Party_section_47

Elaine Brown rose to power within the BPP as Minister of Information after Eldridge Cleaver fled abroad. Black Panther Party_sentence_355

In 1974, she became chair for the Oakland chapter. Black Panther Party_sentence_356

She was appointed by Huey Newton, the previous chair, while Newton and other leaders dealt with legal issues. Black Panther Party_sentence_357

From the beginning of her tenure as chair, she faced opposition and feared a coup. Black Panther Party_sentence_358

She appointed many female officials, and faced backlash for her policies for equality within the organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_359

When Huey Newton returned from exile and approved of the beating of a female Panther school teacher, Brown left the organization. Black Panther Party_sentence_360

Gwen Robinson Black Panther Party_section_48

In an interview with Judson Jeffries, Gwen Robinson reflects on her time in the Black Panther Party Detroit Division. Black Panther Party_sentence_361

She explains that she joined in October 1969 with despite doubts from her mother, who had participated in a march with Martin Luther King Jr. in the early part of the decade. Black Panther Party_sentence_362

She chose the Black Panther Party (BBP) because "[She] felt a closeness and a bond with them" more than other organizations like the "SNCC, NAACP, the Urban League, the Nation of Islam, Shrines of Madonna, Eastside Voice of Independent Detroit (ESVID), the Republic of New Africa, and the Revolutionary Action Movement." Black Panther Party_sentence_363

In 12th grade, she decided to work full-time with the Party, dropping out of chaotic Denby High School in Detroit. Black Panther Party_sentence_364

"There were some students who would use the N word freely" and "a P.E. Black Panther Party_sentence_365

instructor accused [her] of stealing her keys." Black Panther Party_sentence_366

She was "shoved" into the pool when she refused to swim for fear of wetting her hair, while a White teacher who taught Afro-American history would kick people out "if you challenged his position on certain Black leaders." Black Panther Party_sentence_367

In the BBP, she "was living as part of a collective" where all work was shared, and she enjoyed working all day selling newspapers. Black Panther Party_sentence_368

She climbed the ranks and became the branch's Communications Secretary in January 1971, after her predecessor left due to "some issues related to sexism". Black Panther Party_sentence_369

In this branch, unlike the average BBP divisions, the "brothers" never turned violent or physical: "That kind of thing didn't take place in Detroit." Black Panther Party_sentence_370

She left the organization in 1973, keeping a link through her husband, their circulation manager. Black Panther Party_sentence_371

Summing up the legacy of the Detroit branch, she says, "It's crucial that people realize that the strength of the organization was rooted in discipline, deep commitment, and a genuine love for the people." Black Panther Party_sentence_372

Aftermath and legacy Black Panther Party_section_49

There is considerable debate about the impact of the Black Panther Party on the wider society, or even their local environments. Black Panther Party_sentence_373

Author Jama Lazerow writes: Black Panther Party_sentence_374

Professor Judson Jeffries of Purdue University calls the Panthers "the most effective black revolutionary organization in the 20th century". Black Panther Party_sentence_375

The Los Angeles Times, in a 2013 review of Black Against Empire, an "authoritative" history of the BPP published by University of California Press, called the organization a "serious political and cultural force" and "a movement of intelligent, explosive dreamers". Black Panther Party_sentence_376

The Black Panther Party is featured in exhibits and curriculum of the National Civil Rights Museum. Black Panther Party_sentence_377

Numerous former Panthers have held elected office in the United States, some into the 21st century; these include Charles Barron (New York City Council), Nelson Malloy (Winston-Salem City Council), and Bobby Rush (US House of Representatives). Black Panther Party_sentence_378

Most of them praise the BPP's contribution to black liberation and American democracy. Black Panther Party_sentence_379

In 1990, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution declaring "Fred Hampton Day" in honor of the slain leader. Black Panther Party_sentence_380

In Winston-Salem in 2012, a large contingent of local officials and community leaders came together to install a historic marker of the local BPP headquarters; State Representative Earline Parmone declared "[The Black Panther Party] dared to stand up and say, 'We're fed up and we're not taking it anymore'. Black Panther Party_sentence_381

... Because they had courage, today I stand as ... the first African American ever to represent Forsyth County in the state Senate". Black Panther Party_sentence_382

In October 2006, the Black Panther Party held a 40-year reunion in Oakland. Black Panther Party_sentence_383

In January 2007, a joint California state and Federal task force charged eight men with the August 29, 1971, murder of California police officer Sgt. John Young. Black Panther Party_sentence_384

The defendants have been identified as former members of the Black Liberation Army, with two linked to the Black Panthers. Black Panther Party_sentence_385

In 1975, a similar case was dismissed when a judge ruled that police gathered evidence using torture. Black Panther Party_sentence_386

On June 29, 2009, Herman Bell pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Sgt. Young. Black Panther Party_sentence_387

In July 2009, charges were dropped against four of the accused: Ray Boudreaux, Henry W. Jones, Richard Brown and Harold Taylor. Black Panther Party_sentence_388

Also that month Jalil Muntaquim pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter, becoming the second person convicted in this case. Black Panther Party_sentence_389

Since the 1990s, former Panther chief of staff David Hilliard has offered tours in Oakland of sites historically significant to the Black Panther Party. Black Panther Party_sentence_390

Groups and movements inspired and aided by the Black Panthers Black Panther Party_section_50

Various groups and movements have picked names inspired by the Black Panthers: Black Panther Party_sentence_391

Black Panther Party_unordered_list_8

  • Assata's Daughters, an all-black activist group in Chicago, was founded in 2015 by Page May; the group is named after Black Panther Assata Shakur and has objectives similar to the Black Panther's 10-Point Program.Black Panther Party_item_8_62
  • Gray Panthers, often used to refer to advocates for the rights of seniors (Gray Panthers in the United States, The Grays – Gray Panthers in Germany).Black Panther Party_item_8_63
  • Polynesian Panthers, an advocacy group for Māori and Pacific Islander people in New Zealand.Black Panther Party_item_8_64
  • Black Panthers, a protest movement that advocates social justice and fights for the rights of Mizrahi Jews in Israel.Black Panther Party_item_8_65
  • White Panthers, used to refer to both the White Panther Party, a far-left, anti-racist, white American political party of the 1970s, as well as the White Panthers UK, an unaffiliated group started by Mick Farren.Black Panther Party_item_8_66
  • The Pink Panthers, used to refer to two LGBT rights organizations.Black Panther Party_item_8_67
  • Dalit Panthers, an Indian social reform movement, which fights against Caste Oppression in Indian Society.Black Panther Party_item_8_68
  • The British Black Panther movement, which flourished in London in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was not affiliated with the American organization although it fought for many of the same rights.Black Panther Party_item_8_69
  • The French Black Dragons, a black antifascist group closely linked to the punk rock and rockabilly scene.Black Panther Party_item_8_70
  • The Young LordsBlack Panther Party_item_8_71
  • Huey P. Newton Gun Club, named after the Black Panther Party's founder.Black Panther Party_item_8_72
  • Memphis Black Autonomy FederationBlack Panther Party_item_8_73

In April 1977 Panthers were key supporters of the 504 Sit-Ins, the longest of which was the 25-day occupation of the San Francisco Federal Building by over 120 people with disabilities. Black Panther Party_sentence_392

Panthers provided daily home-cooked meals in support of the protest's eventual success, which eventually led to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) thirteen years later. Black Panther Party_sentence_393

New Black Panther Party Black Panther Party_section_51

Main article: New Black Panther Party Black Panther Party_sentence_394

In 1989, a "New Black Panther Party" was formed in Dallas, Texas. Black Panther Party_sentence_395

Ten years later, the NBPP became home to many former Nation of Islam members when its chairmanship was taken by Khalid Abdul Muhammad. Black Panther Party_sentence_396

The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center list the New Black Panthers as a black separatist hate group. Black Panther Party_sentence_397

The Huey Newton Foundation, former chairman and co-founder Bobby Seale, and members of the original Black Panther Party have insisted that this New Black Panther Party is illegitimate and they have strongly objected to it, stating that there "is no new Black Panther Party". Black Panther Party_sentence_398


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black Panther Party.