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Black Panther Party

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BLACK PANTHER PARTY Pieces of History

The Black Panther Party was a progressive political organization that stood in the vanguard of the most powerful movement for social change in America since the Revolution of 1776 and the Civil War: that dynamic episode generally referred to as The Sixties. It is the sole black organization in the entire history of black struggle against slavery and oppression in the United States that was armed and promoted a revolutionary agenda, and it represents the last great thrust by the mass of black people for equality, justice and freedom.

The Party’s ideals and activities were so radical, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover labeled the panthers as”the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” And, despite the demise of the Party, its history and lessons remain so challenging and controversial that established texts and media would like to erase all reference of the Party from American history.

Under his CO-INTELPRO program, the late FBI director J. Edgar Hoover targeted “radical” political groups such as socialists, communists and the Black Panther Party.

The Black Panther Party was the manifestation of the vision of Huey P. Newton, the seventh son of a Louisiana family transplanted to Oakland, California. In October of 1966, in the wake of the assassination of black leader Malcolm X and on the heels of the massive black, urban uprising in Watts, California and at the height of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Newton gathered a few of his longtime friends, including Bobby Seale and David Hilliard, and developed a skeletal outline for this organization. It was named, originally, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Immediately, the leadership of the embryonic Party outlined a Ten Point Platform and Program. This Platform & Program articulated the fundamental wants and needs, and called for a redress of the long­standing grievances, of the black masses in America,

Moreover, this Platform & Program was a manifesto that demanded the express needs be met and oppression of blacks be ended immediately, a demand for the right to self defense, by a revolutionary ideology and by the commitment of the membership of the Black Panther Party to promote its agenda for fundamental change in America.

There was no question that the end of the several centuries of the institution of slavery of blacks had not resulted in the assimilation of blacks into American society. Indeed, there was a violent, post-emancipation white backlash, manifested in the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, endorsed by the benign neglect of the President and the Congress, codified in the so called Black Codes. The rampant lynching of blacks became a way of life in America, along with the de facto denial to blacks of every civil right, including the rights to vote, to worship, to use public facilities.

From that time forward, then, blacks were obliged to wage fierce survival struggles in America, creating at once the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to promote integration of blacks into society as full, first-class citizens and the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) of Marcus Garvey to promote independence of blacks and eventually a return to Africa. At the same time, there were the effective efforts of former slave Booker T. Washington to establish a separate socioeconomic scheme for blacks. America’s response to all such efforts was violent and repressive and unyielding. Thus, despite the mass uprisings by blacks in resistance to the unrelenting violence and the law’s delay, despite tacit urgings by blacks to be afforded some means to survive, despite the bold endeavors by blacks to live separate lives in America or leave America, for the next half century, blacks, in the main, found themselves denied of every possible avenue to either establish their own socioeconomic independence or participate fully in the larger society.

It was against this backdrop that Huey P. Newton was organizing the Black Panther Party for self-defense, boldly calling for a complete end to all forms of oppression of blacks and offering revolution as an option. What was most “dangerous” about this was that young blacks, the same urban youth throwing Molotov cocktails on America, were listening

This message was amplified when a small group of Black Panther Party members, led by Bobby Seale, designated chairman of the Party, marched into the California legislature, in May 1967, fully armed. Defined as protest against a pending gun control bill (which became the Mulford Act) aimed at the Party with the position that blacks had a Constitutional right to bear arms, the Party’s message that day became a clarion call to young blacks

In October of 1967, Huey Newton was shot, arrested and charged with the murder of a white Oakland cop, after a gun battle of sorts on the streets of West Oakland that resulted in the death of police officer John Frey, it was indeed the spark that lit a prairie fire, urban blacks in unison began to shout in outrage “Free Huey!”

Armelia Newton, Bobby Seale, James Forman, Bob Avakian, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and Ron Dellums speak at Free Huey rally, February 17th, 1968, Oklahoma…

The very embodiment of all the social contradictions, between the haves and have-nots, the included and excluded, the alienated and the privileged. The freeing of the black man charged with killing a white cop, the oppressed who resisted oppression, was tantamount to the freedom of everyone.

The Party expanded from a small Oakland based organization to a national organization, as black youth in 48 states formed chapters of the Party. In addition, Black Panther coalition and support groups began to spring up internationally, in Japan, China, France, England, Germany, Sweden, in Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uruguay and elsewhere, including, even, in Israel.

The Black Panther Party was more than talk and rhetoric. They were about action they started a number of programs that directly impacted the Black community. One of their more famous programs was “Free Breakfast for Children”, but they also started other programs dealing with a plethora of problems unique to the Blacks who lived during oppressive periods in American history. In the midst of their militant actions, they still showed sensitivity for issues affecting the health and welfare of the Black community. The Black Panther party fed more than ten thousand youth through the program. The social issues Blacks faced were numerous and were especially ravaging to low income areas. The BPP started “survival programs” to help address the difficulties Blacks had living abundant lives.

The magnitude and powerful impact of this program was such that the federal government was pressed and shamed into adopting a similar program for public schools across the country, while the FBI assailed the free breakfast program as nothing more than a propaganda tool used by the Party to carry out its “communist” agenda. More insidiously, the FBI denounced the Party itself as a group of communist outlaws bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

Below is a list of 20 survival programs,started by the Black Panther Party..

  1. Alameda County Volunteer Bureau Work Site
  2. Benefit Counseling
  3. Black Student Alliance
  4. Child Development Center
  5. Consumer Education Classes
  6. Community Facility Use
  7. Community Health Classes
  8. East Oakland CIL (Center for Independent Living) Branch
  9. Community Pantry (Free Food Program)
  10. Drug/Alcohol Abuse Awareness Program
  11. Drama Classes
  12. Disabled Persons Services/Transportation and Attendant
  13. Drill Team
  14. Employment Referral Service
  15. Free Ambulance Program
  16. Free Breakfast for Children Programs
  17. Free Busing to Prisons Program
  18. Free Clothing Program
  19. Free Commissary for Prisoners Program
  20. Free Dental Program
Armed with that definition and all the machinery of the federal government, J. Edgar Hoover directed the FBI to wage a campaign to eliminate the Black Panther Party altogether, commanding the assistance of local police departments to do so. Indeed, as Hoover stated in 1968 that the Party represented “the greatest threat to the internal security of the U.S.,” he pledged that 1969 would be the last year of the Party’s existence.

Ten Point Program of the Black Panther Party:

1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black and oppressed communities.

2. We want full employment for our people.

3. We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our Black and oppressed communities.

4. We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings.

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.

6. We want completely free health care for all Black and oppressed people.

7. We want an immediate end for police brutality and murder of Black people, other people of color, all oppressed people inside the United States.

8. We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression.

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.

10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace, and people’s community control of modern technology.

– See more at: http://bits.sinshinelove.com/post/50429818295/blunthought-ten-point-program-of-the-black#sthash.yQ6CDkt1.dpufTen Point Program of the Black Panther Party:

1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black and oppressed communities.

2. We want full employment for our people.

3. We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our Black and oppressed communities.

4. We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings.

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.

6. We want completely free health care for all Black and oppressed people.

7. We want an immediate end for police brutality and murder of Black people, other people of color, all oppressed people inside the United States.

8. We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression.

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.

10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace, and people’s community control of modern technology.

– See more at: http://bits.sinshinelove.com/post/50429818295/blunthought-ten-point-program-of-the-black#sthash.yQ6CDkt1.dpuf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZwz_3Wyizs&feature=youtube_gdata

By the end of that year, nearly every office and other facility of the Black Panther Party had been violently assaulted by police and/or the FBI, culminating, in December, in an FBI orchestrated five hour police assault on the office in Los Angeles and FBI directed Illinois state police assassination of Chicago Party leader Fred Hampton and member Mark Clark.
In the interim, there had been the Oakland police murder of 17 year old Party member Bobby Hutton, in April of 1968; the August 1968 Los Angeles police murder of another 17 year old Panther, Tommy Lewis, along with Robert Lawrence and Steve Bartholomew; numerous arrests, from that of Party chairman Bobby Seale on conspiracy charges in connection with anti-war protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago to that of chief of staff David Hilliard on charges of assaulting police officers (in the April 1968 police gun battle in which Bobby Hutton was killed) to a conspiracy to kill the President (Nixon) charge arising from an anti-war speech, to the famous New Haven murder conspiracy case of Bobby Seale and veteran Panther Ericka Huggins. There had been every kind of assault imaginable on the Party’s social programs and destruction of Party property. From police raiders who smashed breakfast programs eggs on the floors of churches they invaded to those who crushed Party free clinic supplies underfoot to those who caused the destruction of batches of the Party’s newspapers.

In addition, intimidation and other such tactics were being employed to undermine the Party’s support, to break the spirit and commitment of Party supporters and family members. More sinisterly, perhaps, and subtlety were the activities carried out under the FBI’s so called counter-intelligence program known as CO-INTELPRO, whereby the FBI directed its field offices and local police to destroy the Party through the use of informants, agents provocateur and covert activities involving mayhem and murder.

FBI WAR on panthers

July 7, 1970 murder of 17 year old Jonathan Jackson (George Jacksons’ brother) in the incident that gave rise to the famous arrest and trial of Angela Davis. The question of Huey’s freedom was nearly forgotten when well known Party leader Eldridge Cleaver, living in exile in Algeria, challenged the Party’s agenda of social programs and proposed a terrorist one. By the end of 1970, Cleaver was expelled from the Party in a nasty riff that culminated in the murder of Party loyalist Sam Napier in New York. Still, the Party continued to build its programs and move its agenda, as it began to consolidate its efforts in its home base of Oakland, California.

Over the next few years, until 1973, the Party maintained and built its agenda, despite the brutal assassination at San Quentin prison in August of 1971 of Party field marshal and author George Jackson. Nevertheless, in 1972­3, the Party entered into electoral politics in Oakland by running Bobby Seale and Elaine Brown for public office, for mayor and city councilwoman respectively. Though that election was lost, per se, it allowed the Black Panther Party to solidify a broad base of support for its future efforts. In 1974, there was great upheaval in the internal affairs of the Party, so much so that by the time Huey Newton went into self­imposed exile, rather than stand trial for the murder of a young prostitute (for which he would be acquitted), most of the original leadership was gone. David Hilliard was expelled while in prison; Bobby Seale was expelled. Elaine Brown took over the chairmanship of the Party during those three years that Newton was in exile, in Cuba.

On Huey’s return from exile, then, in 1977, the Black Panther Party was alive and well in Oakland, California, maintaining a strong constituency base in the black and working communities, and prepared to move forward to carry out its primary goal to make Oakland a base for revolution in America.

Newton’s return to Oakland, in July of 1977, however, a combination of the continued, subtle and sophisticated, activities of the FBI (despite J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972) and internal stress and conflict came to erode the Black Panther Party. By the end of the decade, it had come to a slow and unheralded demise.

Article http://blackpanther.org/legacytwo.htm

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About Darlene Dancy

Darlene Dancy is the owner of Affordable and Historical Art. Darlene's goal is to educate, motivate and empower people of African descent to learn the rich history of African culture - past & present. Discover Black History written, researched and preserved by African American Scholars. Lectures, Documentaries & Auto Biographies on DVD's and Historical Black Print/Poster art

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