Honoring Black History: The Black Panther Party

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The Black Panther Party (BPP) was formed and founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in 1966. On the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, the Panther Party had several ideologies (Black nationalism, Anti-capitalism, Anti-fascism, Anti-imperialism, Anti-racism, and Revolutionary socialism). They were created to combat against police brutality in the black communities. Peaceful marches and demonstrations were met with attacks by the police. The BPP trained and armed each member to legally carry weapons to defend the Black community from unconstitutional acts against them.

The BPP party started numerous community social programs such as the free breakfast for children, the community health clinic, and senior citizen transportation. These programs are rarely mentioned because the media and government chose to only address the party as a threat to internal security in the United States. The government went as far as to create a program called COINTELPRO to survey, infiltrate, harass and ultimately destroy the party. This program was orchestrated by FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI known atrocities against the BPP caused the party to grow astronomical numbers within the Black community. By the late 60’s early 70’s, the Panther Party had offices and members located in 68 cities across the US. This growth was short-lived due to the BPP and its allies being targeted as “Black Nationalist” by the FBI in which the goal was to discredit and reduce the support. Along with the FBI seeking to destroy the party, Co-founder Huey Newton became connected with drugs and alcohol which caused a widespread of members to leave the Party.

 

\”There is considerable debate about the impact that the Black Panther Party had on the greater society, or even their local environment. Author Jama Lazerow writes:
As inheritors of the discipline, pride, and calm self-assurance preached by Malcolm X, the Panthers became national heroes in black communities by infusing abstract nationalism with street toughness—by joining the rhythms of black working-class youth culture to the interracial élan and effervescence of Bay Area New Left politics … 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 police brutality that had come to characterize life in black urban communities.\”

 

Photo Reference
http://diaspora.northwestern.edu

 

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