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In one word, the Black Panthers would be described as ‘radical’. They took the civil rights movement to a whole new level. The Black Panther Party also took the meaning of self- defense to new heights. The Black panthers stood for freedom, equal rights, better health care, decent housing and education, but most of all putting an end to police brutality. According to the article History of the black panthers the panthers are know for being the most powerful for social change since the Revolution of 1776 and the Civil War. The Black Panther Party (BPP) knew it would be a tough road to travel, but they knew they had to fight for what was right. The panthers endured countless attacks from their own community law enforcement, and higher power attacks From FBI leader, J. Edgar Hoover. Some of the Panthers even put their lives on the line for the movement. Some say that the Black Panthers failed as a group, but they did succeed, they succeeded in giving the black community hope and letting them know that you have to stand up for what you believe in.
Two Law students by the names of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton decided to start a civil rights group with a little more aggressive in your face style. This Group would be called The Black Panther Party. Their original goal and vision was to stop police brutality in the black community, and serve the needs of black oppressed people (Baggins). The group was Established in Oakland California in 1966(Baggins). According to the article “History of the black Panthers” The panthers put in place The Ten Point Program. The Ten Point program emphasized what the panthers were wanted to change and what they where fighting for.
It consisted of these demands, “We Want freedom”. We want the power to determine, “We want full Employment for our people”, ‘We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our black community, We want decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings, we want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society, we want all black men to be exempt from military service, we want an immediate end to police brutality, and murder of black people, we want freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails, we want all black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peers or people from their black communities, as defined by the constitution of the United States, and finally we want land, bread, housing, education, clothing , justice ,and peace.
Unlike Dr. King and his influence Mahatma Gandhi which choose a non-violent approach, the panthers went in a totally different direction. Influenced by the late Malcolm X the panthers took a very aggressive and radical approach (May Pg.1 Interview). The Panthers brought an entirely new tempo to the civil rights movement in the 60’s and early 70’s. They made it known early that they were very serious and wouldn’t take no for and answer.
On April 25, 1967 the first issue of “The Black Panthers” the party’s official news organ goes into distribution. (Baggins) The growth of the Panther Party really grew during the 60’s. When Huey Newton went to jail in the late 60’s there was an enormous growth in the party. The Black Panther party eventually spread to 25 major U.S. cities Nationwide.
Through the existence of the Panthers were known for getting in their share of trouble. In 19 67 Leader Huey Newton was charged for killing a policeman, which started the Free Huey Movement which gave the party a lot of attention. (“Black panther party”) Also in 1970, in New York 21 Panthers were charged with plotting to assassinate police officers. (“The Shadow of the Panther”) Later another leader of the Panther Party would once again get in trouble. Elgridge Cleaver was charged with a murder and Fled to Cuba with his wife. (“Black Panther Party”)
During the time that the Black Panthers were prominent in the Black Power Movement FBI leader J.Edgar Hoover kept a very close eye on them. J. Edgar Hoover stated that the black panthers “were the greatest threat to the internal security of the country”. (Baggins) Soon Hoover would begin a program called (Cointelpro) Counter Intelligence program to break up spreading unity of revolutionary groups that begun solidifying through the work and example of the Panthers. (“The Shadow of the Panthers”) In November ’68 Hoover ordered FBI offices “to exploit all avenues of greating Dissension within the Black Panther Party. (Baggins) In secret The FBI eventually spent millions of dollars trying to destroy the Panthers. (“Black Panther Party”) The media would also go against the BPP by labeling them anti-white, for many white U.S. citizens the Panthers Symbolized terror. (“Black Panther Party”) During the movement everyone wanted to stop the Panthers, but they knew if they gave up they were giving up their right to freedom.
From the beginning of the BPP the FBI and Law enforcement wanted to put an end to it, but the Black Panthers won’t give up without a fight. In the late 60’s the Panthers became violent and became involved in a series of violent confrontations with the police, resulting with deaths on both sides. (“Black Panther Party”) The series of killings started with young 17 year-old Bobby Hutton who was shot 12 times after surrendering to the police. This was just a taste of what the BPP would encounter in 1969.
On December 4th, 1969 at 4:00AM in the morning, thanks to FBI informant Chicago Police raided the Panthers Chicago apartment murdering Fred Hampton. Who was apparently sleep in the bed and Mark Clark who was sleep in the living room chair was also executed. Also
murdered was Hampton’s wife carrying their eight month year-old child. Hampton was shot twice in the head and once in the shoulder and arm. Four Panthers escaped wounded and were charged with “attempted murder of police officers and aggravated assault”. Not one single cop spent a moment in jail for the executions. (“Black Panther Party”)
After the series of executions in the early 70’s the Panthers started to steadily decline due to legal problems and internal conflicts, the Panther party began to loose their edge. (“Black Panther Party”) In early 1972 Newton and Seale announced their attention of abandoning violent methods. (“Black Panther Party”) Later in 1972 police and FBI harassment took a toll on the Panthers and they collapsed. (“Black Panther Party”) Finally In 1974 Newton and Seale left the Black Panthers for good.
After Life with the Black Panthers the leaders went on totally different journeys. Bobby Seale ran for mayor of Oakland, California in 1973 and got second. (“War against the Panthers”). Unfortunately Huey Newton fell victim to drugs and became very dependent. He called it “reactionary suicide”. (“Black Panther Party”)
After the Panther end in 1977 the movement nearly expired. The Panthers will always be known for being the most powerful group for social change in America since the Revolution of 1776 and the Civil War. (“What was the Black Party”?) The Black Panther Party was also the first organization in the United States history to militantly struggle for ethnic minority. (“What was The Black Panther Party”?) Most of all The Black Panthers brought the aggression that fueled the Black Power Movement. They brought a very radical attitude to the movement that no one had every seen or expected.
These days Bobby Seale has become a public speaker and community liaison on behalf of Temple University.(“Black Panther Party”) After a murder charge Eldrige Cleaver Fled to Cuba where he continued to argue African Americans on revolution until his death in 1998. (“Black Panther Party”) Founder Huey Newton was fatally shot three times in the face over a drug dispute, on August 22, 1989. His Last words were “You can kill my body but you can never kill my soul, my soul will live forever”! (“Black Panther Party”) In 1993 The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation was founded in honor of Newton.(“What is the black Panther party”) The Black Panther Party gave the black communities in the 60’s and 70’s hope. They made the black community realize that they were somebody and that they did count. The BPP was rock of the Black Power Movement and will always be remembered for their efforts. “Sometimes to get rid of the gun, you have to pick up the gun”- Huey Newton.
“Black Panthers” The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2010 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-BlackPan.html web.
Baggins, Brian. History of the Black Panther Party. Marxists Internet Archive (marx.org), 2002. Retrieved on (today’s date). URL: http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/workers/black-panthers/ web. Overview of the panthers
“Black Panther Party”.www.Lawbrain.com/wiki/Black_Panther_Party web. Histoty of the panther.
Interview: Travis May Persona Grandfather.
“What is The black Panther Party”? www.BlackPanther.org/Legacynew. web. Legacy of the panthers.
“War against the Panthers”www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USApantherB.htm web. The Panthers struggle.
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