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Black Panther Party

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Title: Black Panther Party  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Black Panther Party, Winston-Salem, North Carolina Chapter, Black Power, COINTELPRO, Bobby Seale, Tupac Shakur
Collection: 1966 Establishments in California, African and Black Nationalism in the United States, African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68), African-American History in Oakland, California, Anti-Fascist Organizations, Black Panther Party, Civil Rights Movement During the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration, Cointelpro Targets, Communism in the United States, Counterculture of the 1960S, Crime in the San Francisco Bay Area, Defunct American Political Movements, History of Oakland, California, History of Socialism, Maoist Organizations in the United States, Political Movements, Political Parties Established in 1966, Political Parties of Minorities, Politics and Race in the United States, Politics of Oakland, California
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Black Panther Party

Black Panther Party
Leader Huey P. Newton
Founded 1966 (1966)
Dissolved 1982 (1982)
Ideology Black nationalism (early) Maoism
Revolutionary socialism
Political position Far-left
Colors Black, light blue, green
Politics of the United States
Political parties

The Black Panther Party or BPP (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was a revolutionary

  • UC Berkeley Social Activism Online Sound Recordings: The Black Panther Party
  • Hartford Web Publishing collection of BPP documents
  • , Alexander Street Press, Alexandria, VA 2005.Black Thought and CultureThe Black Panther Party Newspaper, Electronic Archive, Published in
  • 'What We Want, What We Believe': Teaching with the Black Panthers' Ten Point Program""Wayne Au, , 7-page lesson plan for high school students, 2001, Zinn Education Project/Rethinking Schools.
  • The Party's Over, a 1978 profile and history of the Party by New Times magazine.
  • Benjamin R. Young, "'Our Common Struggle against Our Common Enemy': North Korea and the American Radical Left," NKIDP e-Dossier no. 14, Woodrow Wilson Center. An essay and selection of primary sources on the Black Panther Party's ties with North Korea in the late 1960s.
  • Seattle Black Panther Party History and Memory Project The largest collection of materials on any single chapter.
  • official website according to the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation.
  • FBI file on the BPP
  • Incidents attributed to the Black Panthers at the START database

External links

  • Austin, Curtis J. (2006). Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-827-5
  • Alkebulan, Paul. Survival Pending Revolution: The History of the Black Panther Party (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2007)
  • Blackmon, Janiece L. (2008). I Am Because We Are: Africana Womanism as a Vehicle of Empowerment and Influence. Blacksburg: Virginia Polytechnic Institute. 
  • Bloom, Joshua; Martin, Jr., Waldo E. (2012). Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party. University of California Press. p. 315.  
  • Brown, Elaine (1993). A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. Anchor.  
  • Churchill, Ward and Vander Wall, Jim (1988). Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret War Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-294-6
  • Dooley, Brian (1998). Black and Green: The Fight for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland and Black America. Pluto Press.
  • Forbes, Flores A. (2006). Will You Die With Me? My Life and the Black Panther Party. Atria Books. ISBN 0-7434-8266-2
  • Hilliard, David, and Cole, Lewis (1993). This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party. Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 0-316-36421-5
  • Lewis, John (1998). Walking with the Wind. Simon and Schuster, p. 353. ISBN 0-684-81065-4
  • Murch, Donna. Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, University of North Carolina, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8078-7113-3
  • Pearson, Hugh (1994), The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America, De Capo Press. ISBN 0-201-48341-6
  • Rhodes, Jane. Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon (New York: The New Press, 2007).
  • Shames, Stephen. "The Black Panthers," Aperture, 2006. A photographic essay of the organization, allegedly suppressed due to Spiro Agnew's intervention in 1970.
  • Swirski, Peter. "1960s The Return of the Black Panther: Irving Wallace's The Man." Ars Americana Ars Politica. Montreal, London: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7735-3766-8
  • Williams, Yohuru and Lazerow, Jama (eds), In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement, Duke University Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8223-3890-1

Reference bibliography

  1. ^ Joseph, Peniel (2006). Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America. Henry Holt. p. 219. 
  2. ^ Van Deburg, William L. New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965-1975. University of Chicago Press. p. 155. 
  3. ^ Austin 2006; Bloom and Martin 2013; Murch 2010; Joseph 2006.
  4. ^ Pearson 152.
  5. ^ Bloom and Martin, chapter 7.
  6. ^ Nelson, Alondra (2011). Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination. University of Minnesota Press. 
  7. ^ "Hoover and the F.B.I.". Luna Ray Films, LLC. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ Final report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate.
  9. ^ O'Reilly, Kenneth. Racial Matters: The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972. Free Press. 
  10. ^ Churchill and Vander Wall (2002). The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States. South End Press. 
  11. ^ Haas, Jeffrey (2010). The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. Chicago Review Press. 
  12. ^ Bloom and Martin, conclusion.
  13. ^ Philip Foner, The Black Panthers Speak, Da Capo Press, 2002.
  14. ^ Austin, Up Against the Wall, 2006, p. 331.
  15. ^ Bloom and Martin, 3.
  16. ^ Pearson 340.
  17. ^ Murch 2010 p. 4
  18. ^ Murch 2010 p. 5
  19. ^ Murch 2010 p. 6.
  20. ^ Bloom and Martin 2013 p.11.
  21. ^ Bloom and Martin 2013 pp. 11-12.
  22. ^ a b Bloom and Martin 2013 p.12.
  23. ^ Jessica McElrath, The Black Panthers, published as a part of Retrieved December 17, 2005.
  24. ^ Bloom and Martin 2013 p.11,
  25. ^ Murch 2010 pp. 5-7
  26. ^ Seale 1970 part I; Newton 1973 parts 2-3; Bloom and Martin 2013 chapter 1; Murch 2010 part II and chapter 5.
  27. ^ Seale 1970 p. 13.
  28. ^ Murch 2010 chapter 3.
  29. ^ , Vol. 1, No. 4, Fall 1999 (Columbia University Press)Souls: A Critical Journal of Black PoliticsRobin D. G. Kelley "Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution"
  30. ^ Bloom and Martin 2013 pp. 30-36.
  31. ^ Seale 1970 chapters 6-7.
  32. ^ "Negroes With Guns-Description" Wayne State University Press website
  33. ^ Bloom and Martin 2013 pp.30-39.
  34. ^ Bloom and Martin 2013 pp. 39-44.
  35. ^ a b Pearson 109.
  36. ^ "Black Panther Party". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 27, 2008. 
  37. ^ Bloom and Martin 45.
  38. ^ Bloom and Martin 46.
  39. ^ Bloom and Martin 48.
  40. ^ a b Black Panther Newspaper, May 15, 1967, page 3. Bloom and Martin 71-72.
  41. ^ Austin, Up Against the Wall, 2006, pp. x-xxiii.
  42. ^ Pearson  108–120.
  43. ^ David Farber. The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s. p. 207. 
  44. ^ Bloom and Martin 51.
  45. ^ Bloom and Martin 52.
  46. ^ Bloom and Martin 50.
  47. ^ Bloom and Martin 52-53.
  48. ^ Bloom and Martin 54-55.
  49. ^ Bloom and Martin 55.
  50. ^ Bloom and Martin 57.
  51. ^ Pearson 129.
  52. ^ Black Panthers: A Taut, Violent Drama St. Petersburg Times, Sunday, July 21, 1968, Special to the St. Petersburg Times from the New York Times.
  53. ^ Stohl 249.
  54. ^ "COINTELPRO" A Huey P. Newton Story, Public Broadcasting System website
  55. ^ "Black Panther Party Pieces of History: 1966–1969". Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  56. ^ a b c d Bloom and Martin 186.
  57. ^ "History of the Black Panther Party, Part Two" for Change
  58. ^
  59. ^ Pearson 3.
  60. ^ December 15, 1971. "Case Against Newton Dropped". The Dispatch (Lexington, North Carolina) via UPI. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  61. ^ Pearson 3–4, 283–91.
  62. ^ Bloom and Martin p.110
  63. ^ Bloom and Martin 104.
  64. ^ Bloom and Martin 107.
  65. ^ Bloom and Martin 109.
  66. ^ Gerald Horne, Fire this Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s, University of Virginia Press, 1995
  67. ^ Kate Coleman, 1980, "Souled Out: Eldridge Cleaver Admits He Ambushed Those Cops." New West Magazine.
  68. ^ Austin, p. 166
  69. ^ David Hilliard, This Side of Glory
  70. ^ "Interview With Eldridge Cleaver; The Two Nations Of Black America".  
  71. ^ Epstein, Edward Jay (February 13, 1971). "The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide?".  
  72. ^ Pearson 152–158.
  73. ^ Edward Jay Epstein, The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide?, New Yorker, February 13, 1971
  74. ^ a b c d e Epstein, 1971
  75. ^ Pearson, p. 185, 191
  76. ^ Pearson 175.
  77. ^ a b Asante, Molefi K. (2005). Encyclopedia of Black Studies. Sage Publications Inc. pp. 135–137.  
  78. ^ Newton, Huey (October 15, 1966). "The Ten-Point Program". War Against the Panthers. Retrieved June 5, 2006. 
  79. ^ Yohuru and Lazerow 46.
  80. ^ Austin 170.
  81. ^ Horowitz, David (13 December 1999). "Black Murder Inc".  
  82. ^ Pearson, pp. 173, 176
  83. ^ Pearson, 186-187, 191
  84. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Lumsden, Linda (2009). "Good Mothers With Guns: Framing Black Womanhood in the Black Panther, 1968–1980".  
  85. ^ a b c d Williams, Jakobi (2012). "'Don't no woman have to do nothing she don't want to do': Gender, Activism, and the Illinois Black Panther Party". Black Women, Gender & Families 6 (2). 
  86. ^ a b c d e f g Blackmon 28.
  87. ^ Blackmon 2.
  88. ^ "Lecturer explores women’s role in Black Panther Party".  
  89. ^ Regina Jennings, "Africana Womanism in the Black Panthers Party: a Personal story", The Western Journal of Black Study 25/3 (2001).
  90. ^ Austin, Up Against the Wall, 2006, pp. 300–01.
  91. ^ Bloom and Martin 184.
  92. ^ Westneat, Danny (11 May 2005). "Reunion of Black Panthers stirs memories of aggression, activism".  
  93. ^ Ted Gregory "Black Panther Raid and the Death of Fred Hampton" Chicago Tribune
  94. ^ "BPP, Chicago Branch" Encyclopedia of African-American History (ABC-CLIO), p. 672
  95. ^ Michael Newton, The Encyclopedia of American Law Enforcement, 2007.
  96. ^ a b "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe" PBS website
  97. ^ Edward Jay Epstein, "The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide?" New Yorker (February 13, 1971) [1]
  98. ^ Bloom, Joshua and Martin, Waldo E. Black Against Empire. 2013. Page 313
  99. ^ Pearson, p. 201
  100. ^ Young, Benjamin. "North Korea and the American Radical Left". NKIDP e-Dossier no. 14. Woodrow Wilson Center. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  101. ^ Bloom and Martin 318-321.
  102. ^ Bloom and Martin p.314-7
  103. ^ a b Donald Cox, Split in the Party, New Political Science, Vol 21, No 2, 1999
  104. ^ Peniel Joseph, p. 268
  105. ^ Jones, Charles Earl. The Black Panther Reconsidered. Black Classic Press, 1998, p. 186.
  106. ^ a b Brown 391.
  107. ^ Brown 392.
  108. ^ Brown 393.
  109. ^ Marxist Internet Archive: The Black Panther Party
  110. ^ a b Flores Forbes, "Will You Die with Me?"
  111. ^ Virginia Heffernan, The Gangs of Los Angeles: Roots, Branches and Bloods, New York Times, February 6, 2007
  112. ^ Pearson, pp. 265, 286,328
  113. ^ a b Kelley, Ken. Sept. 15, 1989. "Huey Newton: I'll Never Forget". East Bay Express, Volume 11, No. 49.
  114. ^ Pearson, p. 283
  115. ^ a b Perkins, Margo V. Autobiography As Activism: Three Black Women of the Sixties. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000, p. 5.
  116. ^ Forbes, 2006
  117. ^ Horowitz, David (December 13, 1999) "Who killed Betty Van Patter?"
  118. ^ Brown, 363-367
  119. ^ Frank Browning. The Strange Journey of David Horowitz. Mother Jones Magazine. May 1987, pg 34 (on Google books)
  120. ^ Christopher Hitchens, Left-leaving, left-leaning, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2003
  121. ^ Pearson, p. 328
  122. ^ Brown 444–50.
  123. ^ Pearson 299.
  124. ^ "Gunmen Try To Kill Witness Against Black Panther Leader".  
  125. ^ Turner, Wallace (December 14, 1977). "Coast Inquiries Pick Panthers As Target; Murder, Attempted Murders and Financing of Poverty Programs Under Oakland Investigation". New York Times. 
  126. ^ "The Odyssey of Huey Newton". Time Magazine. November 13, 1978. 
  127. ^ Yohuru and Lazerow.
  128. ^ Published: November 14, 1997 (1997-11-14). "Black Panther Legacy Includes Crime and Terror - New York Times". Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  129. ^ February 8, 2007. Accessed August 9, 2008.2006 Homicide Report: An Analysis of Homicides in Oakland from January through December, 2006.Urban Strategies Council. Homicides In Oakland.
  130. ^ . Accessed August 9, 2008.Black on Black—Why Inner-City Murder Rates Are SoaringPacific News Service. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, August 13, 2002.
  131. ^ Undercover Black Man: Q&A: Eldridge Cleaver (pt. 1)
  132. ^ Republican Eldridge Cleaver-Charlie Rose Interview Part 1 - YouTube
  133. ^ Republican Eldridge Cleaver Interview with Charlie Rose Part 2 - YouTube
  134. ^ Reason MagazineAn Interview with Eldridge Cleaver,
  135. ^ Interview With Eldridge Cleaver | The Two Nations Of Black America | FRONTLINE | PBS
  136. ^ Jordan Green "The strange history of the Black Panthers in the Triad" Yes! Weekly, April 11, 2006
  137. ^ Hector Tobar "'Black Against Empire' tells the history of Black Panthers" The Los Angeles Times, Jan 24, 2013
  138. ^ "What Do We Want? Black Power" National Civil Rights Museum
  139. ^ National Civil Rights Museum Curriculum Guide
  140. ^ "Black Power-Questions to Consider" National Civil Rights Museum
  141. ^ Layla Garms "Black Panther Legacy Honored with Marker" The Chronicle of Winston-Salem, Oct 18, 2012
  142. ^ Photos of the Black Panther Party, Oakland 2006
  143. ^ Ex-militants charged in S.F. police officer's '71 slaying at station (via SFGate)
  144. ^ Black Liberation Army tied to 1971 slaying (via USA Today)
  145. ^ 8 arrested in 1971 cop-killing tied to Black Panthers (via Los Angeles Times)
  146. ^ 2nd guilty plea in 1971 killing of S.F. officer (via SFGate)
  147. ^ DelVecchio, Rick (Oct 25, 1997). "Tour of Black Panther Sites: Former member shows how party grew in Oakland". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  148. ^ "Hate Map | Southern Poverty Law Center". Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  149. ^ Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation. "There Is No New Black Panther Party: An Open Letter From the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation". 




See also

The Anti-Defamation League and The Southern Poverty Law Center include the New Black Panthers in lists of hate groups.[148] 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 have strongly objected that there "is no new Black Panther Party".[149]

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

New Black Panther Party

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

Since the 1990s, former Panther chief of staff David Hilliard has offered tours of sites in Oakland historically significant to the Black Panther Party.[147]

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.[143] The defendants have been identified as former members of the Black Liberation Army. Two have been linked to the Black Panthers.[144] In 1975 a similar case was dismissed when a judge ruled that police gathered evidence through the use of torture.[145] On June 29, 2009 Herman Bell pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Sgt. Young. In July 2009, charges were dropped against four of the accused: Ray Boudreaux, Henry W. Jones, Richard Brown and Harold Taylor. Also that month Jalil Muntaquim pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter becoming the second person to be convicted in this case.[146]

Black Panther 40th Reunion, 2006.

In October 2006, the Black Panther Party held a 40-year reunion in Oakland.[142]

Numerous former Panthers have held elected office in the United States, some into the 21st century; these include [96] 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...Because they had courage, today I stand as … the first African American ever to represent Forsyth County in the state Senate."[141]

Professor Judson L. Jeffries of [137] The Black Panther Party is featured in the exhibits[138] and curriculum[139][140] of the National Civil Rights Museum.

Later critics suggested that the Panthers' "romance with the gun" and their promotion of "gang mentality" was likely associated with the enormous increase in both black-on-black and black-on-white crime observed during later decades.[128] This increase occurred in the Panthers' hometown of Oakland, California, and in other cities nationwide.[129][130] Interviewed after he left the Black Panther Party (and after he became a conservative Christian), former Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver lamented that the legacy of the Panthers was at least partly one of disrespect for the law and indiscriminate violence. He acknowledged that, had his promotion of violent black militantism prevailed, it would have resulted in "a total bloodbath". Cleaver also lamented the abandonment of poor blacks by the black bourgeoisie and felt that black youth had been left without appropriate role models who could teach them to properly channel their militant spirit and their desire for justice.[131][132][133][134][135]

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."[127] In his book Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America journalist Hugh Pearson takes a more jaundiced view, linking Panther criminality and violence to worsening conditions in America's black ghettos as their influence spread nationwide.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron is one of numerous former Panthers to have held elected office in the US

Aftermath and legacy

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. Unbeknownst to the assailants, they attacked the wrong house and the occupant returned fire. During the shootout one of the Panthers, Louis Johnson, was killed and the other two assailants escaped.[124] One of the two surviving assassins, Flores Forbes, fled to Las Vegas, Nevada, with the help of Panther paramedic Nelson Malloy. 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. Although permanently paralyzed from the waist down, Malloy recovered from the assault and told police that fellow Panthers Rollin Reid and Allen Lewis were behind his attempted murder.[125] Newton denied any involvement or knowledge and said the events "might have been the result of overzealous party members".[126] 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 acquitted of assaulting Preston Callins after Callins refused to press charges.

Panthers attempt to assassinate a witness against Newton

Although many scholars and activists date the Party's downfall to the period before Brown became the leader, an increasingly smaller cadre of Panthers continued to exist through the 1970s. By 1980, Panther membership had dwindled to 27, and the Panther-sponsored school closed in 1982 after it became known that Newton was embezzling funds from the school to pay for his drug addiction.[115][123]

In 1977, Newton returned from exile in Cuba. Shortly afterward, Elaine Brown resigned from the party and fled to LA.[122]

Return of Huey Newton and the demise of the party


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.[113][121]

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."[119][120]

Panther leader Elaine Brown hired Betty Van Patter in 1974 as a bookkeeper. Van Patter had previously served as a bookkeeper for Ramparts magazine, and was introduced to the Panther leadership by David Horowitz, who had been Ramparts editor and a major fundraiser and board member for the Panther school.[117] Later that year, after a dispute with Brown over financial irregularities,[118] Van Patter went missing on December 13, 1974. Some weeks later, her severely beaten corpse was found on a San Francisco Bay beach.

Death of Betty van Patter

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.

In 1974, as Huey Newton prepared to go into exile in Cuba, he appointed Elaine Brown as the first Chairwoman of the Party. Under Brown's leadership, the Party became involved in organizing for more radical electoral campaigns, including Brown's 1975 unsuccessful run for Oakland City Council.[115] 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.[116]

The Panthers under Elaine Brown


In 1974, Huey Newton and eight other Panthers were arrested and charged with assault on police officers. Newton went into exile in Cuba to avoid prosecution for the murder of Kathleen Smith, an eighteen-year-old prostitute. Newton was also indicted for pistol-whipping his tailor, Preston Callins. 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.[112][113] Newton was also acquitted of assaulting Preston Callins after Callins refused to press charges.[114]

Newton indicted for violent crimes

Minister of Education Ray "Masai" Hewitt created the Buddha Samurai, the party's underground security cadre in Oakland. Newton expelled Hewitt from the party later in 1972, but the security cadre remained in operation under the leadership of Flores Forbes. One of the cadre's main functions was to extort and rob drug dealers and after-hours clubs.[110]

The party developed a five-year plan to take over the city of Oakland politically. Bobby Seale ran for mayor, Elaine Brown ran for city council, and other Panthers ran for minor offices. Neither Seale nor Brown were elected. A few Panthers won seats on local government commissions.

In 1972, the party began closing down dozens of chapters and branches all over the country, and bringing members and operations to Oakland. 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.[110] 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.[111]

Newton solidifies control and centralizes power in Oakland

  • December, 1974—accountant Betty van Patter is murdered, after threatening to disclose irregularities in the Party's finances.
  • August, 1974—Newton murders Kathleen Smith, a teenage prostitute. He flees to Cuba. Elaine Brown takes over the leadership in his absence.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • mid-1972—BPP members or supporters win a number of minor offices in the Oakland city elections.
  • early 1972—Newton shuts down chapters around the country, and calls the key members to Oakland.



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.[103]

Some Panther leaders, such as Huey Newton and David Hilliard, favored a focus on community service coupled with self-defense; others, such as Eldridge Cleaver, embraced a more confrontational strategy. Eldridge Cleaver deepened the schism in the party when he publicly criticized the Party for adopting a "reformist" rather than "revolutionary" agenda and called for Hilliard's removal. Cleaver was expelled from the Central Committee but went on to lead a splinter group, the Black Liberation Army, which had previously existed as an underground paramilitary wing of the Party.[109]

Significant disagreements among the Party's leaders over how to confront ideological differences led to a split within the party. Certain members felt the Black Panthers should participate in local government and social services, while others encouraged constant conflict with the police. 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. These (and other) disagreements led to a split.


Newton focuses the BPP on the Party's Oakland school various other social service programs. In early 1971, the BPP founded the "Intercommunal Youth Institute" in January 1971,[105] with the intent of demonstrating how black youth ought to be educated. Ericka Huggins was the director of the school and Regina Davis was an administrator.[106] 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.[106] Elaine Brown taught reading and writing to a group of 10- to 11-year-olds deemed "uneducable" by the system.[107] 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.[108]

  • mid-to-late 1971—nationally, hundreds of Party members quit the BPP.[104]
  • May, 1971—Bobby Seale is acquitted of ordering the Rackley murder, and returns to Oakland.
  • Spring, 1971—the Newton and Cleaver factions engage in retaliatory assassinations of each other's members, resulting in the deaths of four people.[103]
  • 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.
  • January, 1971—Newton expels Geronimo Pratt who goes underground. Newton also expels two of the New York 21 and his own secretary, who flee the country.



When Algeria held its first Pan-African Cultural Festival, they invited many important figures from the United States. Among the important figures invited were Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver. The cultural festival allowed Black Panthers to network with representatives of various international anti-imperialist movements. It is at this festival where Cleaver met with the ambassador of North Korea, who later invited him to their International Conference of Revolutionary Journalists in Pyongyang. Eldridge also met Yasser Arafat, and gave a speech supporting the Palestinians and their goal of achieving freedom.[102]

In 1970, a group of Panthers traveled through Asia and were welcomed as guests of the governments in North Vietnam, North Korea, and China. The group's first stop was in North Korea, where the Panthers met with local officials to discuss ways that they could help each other fight American imperialism. 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.[100] After North Korea, the group traveled to North Vietnam with the same agenda in mind: finding ways to put an end to American imperialism. Eldridge Cleaver was invited to speak to Black GIs by the Northern Vietnamese government.He encouraged them to join the Black Liberation Struggle by arguing that the United States is only using them for their own purposes. Instead of risking their lives on the battlefield for a country that continues to oppress them, Cleaver believes the black GIs should risk their lives in support of their own liberation. After Vietnam, Cleaver met with the Chinese ambassador to Algeria to express their mutual animosity towards the American government.[101]

  • August, 1970—Newton is released from prison.
  • July, 1970—Newton tells the New York Times that "we've never advocated violence".
  • May, 1970—Huey Newton's conviction is overturned, but he remains incarcerated.
  • spring, 1970—the Oakland BPP engages in another ambush of police officers with guns and fragmentation bombs. Two officers are wounded.[99]



Activists from many countries around the globe supported the Panthers and their cause. In Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Finland, for example, left-wing activists organized a tour for Bobby Seale and Masai Hewitt in 1969. At each destination along the tour, the Panthers talked about their goals and the "Free Huey!" campaign.  Seale and Hewitt made a stop in Germany as well, gaining support for the "Free Huey!" campaign.[98]

International ties

In May 1969, three members of the New Haven chapter tortured and murdered Lonnie McLucas — later admitted taking part. Sams, who gave the order to shoot Rackley at the murder scene, turned state's evidence and testified that he had received orders personally from Bobby Seale to carry out the execution. Party supporters responded that Sams was himself the informant and an agent provocateur employed by the FBI.[97] The case resulted in the New Haven, Connecticut Black Panther trials of 1970. Kimbro and Sams were convicted of the murder, but the trials of Seale and Huggins ended with a hung jury, and the prosecution chose not to seek another trial.

Torture-murder of Alex Rackley

In Chicago, on December 4, 1969, two Panthers were killed when the Chicago Police raided the home of Panther leader [96]

Killing of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

Violent conflict between the Panther chapter in LA and the 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. Another shootout between the two groups on March 17 led to further injuries. Two more Panthers died.

Shoot-out with the US Organization

  • Late 1969—David Hilliard, current BPP head, advocates violent revolution. Panther membership is down significantly from the late 1968 peak.
  • December 4, 1969—Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are killed by law enforcement in Chicago.
  • November 13, 1969—a Panther is killed in a gunfight with police in Chicago.[74]
  • mid-to-late 1969—COINTELPRO activity increases.
  • October 18, 1969—a Panther is killed in a gunfight with police outside a Los Angeles restaurant.[74]
  • August, 1969—Bobby Seale is indicted and imprisoned in relation to the Rackley murder.
  • Late July, 1969—the BPP ideology undergoes a shift, with a turn toward self-discipline and anti-racism.
  • July 17, 1969—two policemen are shot and a Panther is killed in a gun battle in Chicago.[74]
  • May 1969—members of the New Haven chapter torture and murder Alex Rackley, who they suspected of being an informant.
  • May, 1969—Two more southern California Panthers are killed in violent disputes with US Organization members.[74]
  • April, 1969—twenty-one members of the New York chapter are indicted and jailed for a bombing conspiracy.
  • March, 1969—there is a second purge of BPP members.
  • January, 1969—the Oakland BPP begins the free breakfast program for children.
  • January 17, 1969—The Los Angeles chapter gets into a shootout with members of the competing US Organization, and two Panthers are killed.
  • 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.



In 1968, BPP Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver ran for Presidential office on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. They were a big influence on the White Panther Party, that was tied to the Detroit/Ann Arbor band MC5 and their manager John Sinclair, author of the book Guitar Army that also promulgated a ten-point program.

Political activities

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.[92]

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 progress that condition. "While the children ate their meal[s], members [of the Party] taught them liberation lessons consisting of Party messages and Black history." [56] 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. The breakfast program became so popular that the Panthers Party claimed to have fed twenty thousand children in the 1968-1969 school year.[91]

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

Survival programs

By the time the Black Panther Party disbanded, official policy was to reprimand men who violated the rules of gender equality.[85]:13

In response, the Chicago and New York chapters, among others, established equal gender rights as a priority and tried to eradicate sexist attitudes.[85]:13

The Black Panther Party experienced significant problems in several chapters with sexism and gender oppression, particularly in the Oakland chapter where cases of sexual harassment and gender division were common.[89]:5 When Oakland Panthers arrived to bolster the New York City Panther chapter after New York Twenty-one leaders were incarcerated, they displayed such chauvinistic attitudes towards New York Panther women that they had to be fended off at gunpoint.[90] Some Party leaders thought the fight for gender equality was a threat to men and a distraction from the struggle for racial equality.[84]:5

Many African American women Panthers began to demand childcare in order to be able to fully participate in the organization. The Black Panther Party responded to the women by establishing on-site child development centers in multiple chapters across the United States. “Childcare became largely a group activity”, the children would be raised collectively during the week. This was following the Panther’s commitment to collectivism and an extension of the African-American extended family tradition. Childcare allowed women Panthers to still be able to embrace motherhood, while at the same time allowing them to fully participate in the Party. Creating Childcare to the Party allowed women Panthers to not to have to make the choice between motherhood and activism.[88]

During the 1970s, recognizing the limited access poor women had to abortion, the Party officially supported women's reproductive rights, including abortion.[84]:11 That same year, the Party condemned and opposed prostitution.[84]:12

This had direct implications at every level for Black Panther women. From 1968 to the end of its publication in 1982, the head editors of the Black Panther Party newspaper were all women.[84]:5 In 1970, approximately 40% to 70% of Party members were women,[84]:8 and several chapters, like the Des Moines, Iowa, and New Haven, Connecticut, were headed by women.[85]:7

From this point forward, the Black Panther Party newspaper portrayed women as revolutionaries, using the example of party members such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and Erika Huggins, all political and intelligent women.[84]:10 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 the home, the family and the community.[84]:2

The Black Panthers adopted a womanist ideology in consideration of the unique experiences of African-American women,[86] affirming that racism is more oppressive than sexism.[87] Womanism was a mix of black nationalism and the vindication of women,[86]:20 putting race and community struggle before the gender issue.[86]:8 Womanism posited that traditional feminism failed to include race and class struggle in its denunciation of male sexism [86]:26 and was therefore part of white hegemony.[86]:21 In opposition to some feminist viewpoints, womanism promoted a gender role point of view that men are not above women, but hold a different position in the home and community,[86]:42 so men and women must work together for the preservation of African-American culture and community.[86]:27

By 1969, the Black Panther Party newspaper officially stated that men and women are equal [84]:2 and instructed male Panthers to treat female Party members as equals,[84]:6 a drastic change from the idea of the female Panther as subordinate. That same year, Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois chapter conducted a meeting condemning sexism.[84]:2 After 1969, the Party considered sexism counter-revolutionary.[84]:6

At its beginnings, the Black Panther Party reclaimed black masculinity and traditional gender roles.[84]:6 Several scholars consider the Party's stance of armed resistance highly masculine, with the use of guns and violence affirming proof of manhood.[85]:2 In 1968, the Black Panther Party newspaper stated in several articles that the role of female Panthers was to "stand behind black men" and be supportive.[84]:6

Women and womanism

By the end of the year, Party membership peaked at around 2,000.[82] Party members engaged in criminal activities such as extortion, stealing, violent discipline of BPP members, and robberies. The BPP leadership took one third of the proceeds from robberies committed by BPP members.[83]

The BPP adopted a "Serve the People" program, which at first involved a free breakfast program for children. By the end of 1968, the BPP had established 38 chapters and branches, claiming more than five thousand members. 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. They settled in Algeria.

Survival committees and coalitions were organized with several groups across the United States. Chief among these was the Appalachia region.

Panther slogans and iconography spread. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American medalists, gave the black power salute during the playing of the American national anthem. The International Olympic Committee banned them from the Olympic Games for life. Hollywood celebrity Jane Fonda publicly supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers during the early 1970s. She and other Hollywood celebrities became involved in the Panthers' leftist programs. 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[81]) and left-wing lawyer Charles R. Garry, who acted as counsel in the Panthers' many legal battles.

[The Party] dropped its wholesale attacks against whites and began to emphasize more of a class analysis of society. Its emphasis on Marxist-Leninist doctrine and its repeated espousal of Maoist statements signaled the group's transition from a revolutionary nationalist to a revolutionary internationalist movement. Every Party member had to study Mao Tse-tung's "Little Red Book" to advance his or her knowledge of peoples' struggle and the revolutionary process.[80]

Curtis Austin states that by late 1968, Black Panther Party ideology had evolved to the point where they began to reject black nationalism and became more a "revolutionary internationalist movement":

By 1968, the party had expanded into many cities throughout the United States, among them, 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 10,000 by 1969, and their newspaper, under the editorial leadership of Eldridge Cleaver, had a circulation of 250,000.[77] 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.[78] With the Ten-Point program, "What We Want, What We Believe", the Black Panther Party expressed its economic and political grievances.[79]

In 1968, the group shortened its name to the Black Panther Party and sought to focus directly on political action. Members were encouraged to carry guns and to defend themselves against violence. An influx of college students joined the group, which had consisted chiefly of "brothers off the block." This created some tension in the group. Some members were more interested in supporting the Panthers social programs, while others wanted to maintain their "street mentality".[76]

  • October 5, 1968—a Panther is killed in a gunfight with police in Los Angeles.[74]
  • November, 1968—the BPP finds numerous supporters, establishing relationships with the Peace and Freedom Party and SNCC. Monetary contributions are flowing in, and BPP leadership begins embezzling donated funds.[75]
  • 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.
  • August 5, 1968—Three Panthers were killed in a gun battle with police at a Los Angeles gas station.[73] Early September, 1968—Newton is convicted of manslaughter.
  • Mid-July, 1968—Huey Newton's murder trial commences. Panthers hold "Free Huey" rallies outside the courthouse daily.
  • April to mid-June, 1968—Cleaver is in jail.


Late 1968

On April 7, 1968, seventeen-year-old Panther national treasurer Bobby Hutton was killed, and Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party Minister of Information, was wounded in a shootout with the Oakland police. Two police officers were also shot. 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.[67][68][69][70][71] Seven other Panthers, including chief of staff David Hilliard, were also arrested. Hutton's death became a rallying issue for Panther supporters.[72] churches and community centers."[56]

Killing of 'Lil Bobby Hutton

In 1968 the southern California chapter was founded by Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter in Los Angeles. Carter was the leader of the Slauson street gang, and many of the LA chapter's early recruits were Slausons.[66]

Founding of the L.A. Chapter

As Newton awaited trial, the Black Panther party's "Free Huey" campaign developed alliances with numerous individuals, 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".[62] 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.[63] 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.[64] 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.[65]

At the time, Newton claimed that he had been falsely accused, leading to the "Free Huey" campaign. This incident gained the party even wider recognition by the radical American left.[59] Newton was released after three years, when his conviction was reversed on appeal.[60] During later years Newton would suggest to sociobiologist Robert Trivers (one of the few whites who became a Party member during its waning years) that he had in fact killed officer John Frey.[61]

Free Huey! campaign

On October 28, 1967,[58] Oakland police officer John Frey was shot to death in an altercation with Huey P. Newton during a traffic stop. In the stop, Newton and backup officer Herbert Heanes also suffered gunshot wounds. Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter at trial, but the conviction was later overturned.

Huey Newton charged with murdering John Frey

COINTELPRO also aimed to dismantle the Black Panther Party by targeting the social/community programs they endorsed, one of the most influential being the Free Breakfast for Children Program. The success of the Free Breakfast for Children Program 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."[56] The ability of the Party to organize and provide for children more effectively than the U.S. government led the FBI to criticize the program as a means of exposing children to Panther Propaganda. In response to this, as an effort of disassembling the program, "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." [56][57]

[55] Part of the FBI COINTELPRO actions were directed at creating and exploiting existing rivalries between black nationalist factions. One such attempt was to "intensify the degree of animosity" between the Black Panthers and the

In August 1967, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) instructed its program "COINTELPRO" to "neutralize" what the FBI called "black nationalist hate groups" and other dissident groups. In September 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover described the Black Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country."[53] 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.[54] The goals of the program were to prevent the unification of militant black nationalist groups and to weaken the power of their leaders, as well as to discredit the groups to reduce their support and growth. The initial targets included the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Revolutionary Action Movement and the Nation of Islam. Leaders who were targeted included the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Maxwell Stanford and Elijah Muhammad.

COINTELPRO document outlining the FBI's plans to 'neutralize' Jean Seberg for her support for the Black Panther Party, by attempting to publicly "cause her embarrassment" and "tarnish her image".


  • April 6, 1968—A team of Panthers led by Eldridge Cleaver ambushes Oakland police officers. Panther Bobby Hutton is killed.
  • Early spring, 1968—Eldridge Cleaver's Soul On Ice is published.
  • October 28, 1967—Huey Newton allegedly kills police officer John Frey. At this time there were fewer than one hundred Party members.


Late 1967 to early 1968

For the original ten points of "What We Believe" and a fuller discussion of the evolution of the Ten-Point Program, see the Ten-Point Program page.

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
  2. We want full employment for our people.
  3. We want an end to the robbery by the white men of our Black Community.
  4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
  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.
  6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
  7. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.
  8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
  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.
  10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

The Black Panther Party first publicized its original Ten-Point program on May 15, 1967, following the Sacramento action, in the second issue of the Black Panther newspaper.[40] The original ten points of "What We Want Now!" follow:

Ten-point program

In May 1967, the Panthers invaded the State Assembly Chamber in Sacramento, guns in hand, in what appears to have been a publicity stunt. Still, they scared a lot of important people that day. At the time, the Panthers had almost no following. Now, (a year later) however, their leaders speak on invitation almost anywhere radicals gather, and many whites wear "Honkeys for Huey" buttons, supporting the fight to free Newton, who has been in jail since last Oct. 28 (1967) on the charge that he killed a policeman ...[52]
Black Panther convention, Lincoln Memorial, June 19, 1970.

Awareness of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense grew rapidly after their May 2, 1967, protest at the California State Assembly. 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. Cleaver and Newton put together a plan to send a group of 26 armed Panthers led by Seale from Oakland to Sacramento to protest the bill. The group entered the assembly carrying their weapons, an incident which was widely publicized, and which prompted police to arrest Seale and five others. The group pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disrupting a legislative session.[51]

Protest at the Statehouse

The black community of Richmond, CA, wanted protection against police brutality.[44] With only three main streets for entering and exiting the neighborhood, it was easy for police to control, contain, and suppress the majority African-American community.[45] On April 1, 1967, a black, unarmed twenty-two year old construction worker named Denzil Dowell was shot dead by police in North Richmond.[46] Dowell's family contacted the Black Panther Party for assistance after county officials refused to investigate the case.[47] The Party held rallies in North Richmond that educated the community on armed self-defense and the Denzil Dowell incident.[48] Police seldom interfered at these rallies because every Panther was armed and no laws were broken.[49] The Party's ideals resonated with several community members, who then brought their own guns to the next rallies.[50]

Rallies in Richmond, CA

From the beginning, the Black Panther Party's focus on militancy came with a reputation for violence.[41][42] 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.[35] Carrying weapons openly and making threats against police officers, for example, chants like "The Revolution has come, it's time to pick up the gun. Off the pigs!",[43] helped create the Panthers' reputation as a violent organization.

The initial tactic of the party utilized contemporary open-carry gun laws to protect Party members when policing the police. This act was done in order to record incidents of police brutality by distantly following cop cars around neighborhoods.[37] When confronted by a police officer, Party members cited laws proving they have done nothing wrong and threatened to take to court any officer that violates their constitutional rights.[38] 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.[39] 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.[40]

Oakland patrols of police

  • May 2, 1967—thirty people representing the BPP go to state capitol with guns, and achieve the Party's first national media attention.
  • April 1967—Denzil Dowell protest in Richmond.
  • January 1967—The BPP opens its first official headquarters in an Oakland storefront, and published the first issue of "The Black Panther: Black Community News Service".
  • February 1967—BPP serve as security escorts for Betty Shabazz.
  • October 1966—the BPP is founded. A few months later, they began their first police patrols.


Late 1966 to early 1967

Black Panther Party founders Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton standing in the street, armed with a Colt .45 and a shotgun.

[36] was their first recruit.Bobby Hutton Sixteen-year-old [35] Newton and Seale decided on a uniform of blue shirts, black pants, black leather jackets, black berets.[34] On October 29, 1966,

[33] Dissatisfied with the failure of these organizations to directly challenge police brutality and appeal to the "brothers on the block", Huey and Bobby sought to take matters into their own hands. After the police killed Matthew Johnson, an unarmed young black man in San Francisco, Newton observed the violent rebellion that followed. He had an epiphany that would distinguish the Black Panther Party from the multitude of organizations seeking to build Black Power. Newton saw the explosive rebellious anger of the ghetto as a force, and believed that if he could stand up to the police, he could organize that force into political power. Inspired by

In late October, 1966, Malcolm X and others.[28] 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.[29][30] While bringing in a paycheck, 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.”[31]

Original six members of the Black Panther Party (1966)
Top left to right: Elbert "Big Man" Howard, Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherwin Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman)
Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer).

[25] Insurgent civil rights practices proved incapable of redressing these conditions, and the organizations that had "led much of the nonviolent civil disobedience" such as

The sweeping migration of black families out of the South during World War II transformed Oakland and cities throughout the West and the North.[17] A new generation of young blacks growing up in these cities faced new conditions, new forms of poverty and racism unfamiliar to their parents, and sought to develop new forms of politics to address them.[18] 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."[19] In the early 1960s, the insurgent Civil Rights Movement had dismantled the Jim Crow system of racial caste subordination using the tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience, and demanding full citizenship rights for black people.[20] But not much changed in the cities of the North and West. As the wartime 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, mostly excluded from political representation, top universities, and the middle class.[21] Police departments were almost all white.[22] In 1966, only 16 of Oakland's 661 police officers were African American.[23]



  • Origins 1
  • Late 1966 to early 1967 2
    • Chronology 2.1
    • Oakland patrols of police 2.2
    • Rallies in Richmond, CA 2.3
    • Protest at the Statehouse 2.4
    • Ten-point program 2.5
  • Late 1967 to early 1968 3
    • Chronology 3.1
    • COINTELPRO 3.2
    • Huey Newton charged with murdering John Frey 3.3
    • Free Huey! campaign 3.4
    • Founding of the L.A. Chapter 3.5
    • Killing of 'Lil Bobby Hutton 3.6
  • Late 1968 4
    • Chronology 4.1
    • Women and womanism 4.2
    • Survival programs 4.3
    • Political activities 4.4
  • 1969 5
    • Chronology 5.1
    • Shoot-out with the US Organization 5.2
    • Killing of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark 5.3
    • Torture-murder of Alex Rackley 5.4
    • International ties 5.5
  • 1970 6
    • Chronology 6.1
  • 1971 7
    • Chronology 7.1
    • Split 7.2
  • 1972-74 8
    • Chronology 8.1
    • Newton solidifies control and centralizes power in Oakland 8.2
    • Newton indicted for violent crimes 8.3
  • 1974-77 9
    • The Panthers under Elaine Brown 9.1
    • Death of Betty van Patter 9.2
  • 1977-82 10
    • Return of Huey Newton and the demise of the party 10.1
    • Panthers attempt to assassinate a witness against Newton 10.2
  • Aftermath and legacy 11
    • New Black Panther Party 11.1
  • See also 12
    • International 12.1
  • References 13
    • Notes 13.1
    • Reference bibliography 13.2
  • External links 14

The history of the Black Panther Party is controversial. 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."[15] Others commentators have described the Party as more criminal than political, characterized by "defiant posturing over substance."[16]

Government repression initially contributed to the growth of the party as killings and arrests of Panthers increased support for the party within the black community and on the broad political left, both of whom valued the Panthers as powerful force opposed to de facto segregation and the military draft. Black Panther Party membership reached a peak in 1970, with offices in 68 cities and thousands of members, then suffered a series of contractions. As concessions were made by the government on these issues, public support for the party waned, and the group became more isolated. In-fighting among Party leadership led to expulsions and defections that decimated the membership.[12] Popular support for the Party declined further after reports appeared detailing the group's involvement in illegal activities such as drug dealing and extortion schemes directed against Oakland merchants.[13] By 1972 most Panther activity centered on the national headquarters and a school in Oakland, where the party continued to influence local politics. Party contractions continued throughout the 1970s. By 1980 the Black Panther Party had just 27 members.[14]


Initially, the Black Panther Party's core practice was its armed citizens' patrols to monitor the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality. In 1969, community social programs became a core activity of party members.[3] The Black Panther Party instituted a variety of community social programs, most extensively the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, and community health clinics.[4][5][6]

from 1966 until 1982. United States active in the [2][1]

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