About this sample
About this sample
Words: 4700 |
24 min read
Published: May 31, 2021
Words: 4700|Pages: 10|24 min read
Perhaps one of the most acclaimed and controversial radical group of all time, the Black Panther Party were “Young, brash and eloquent”, making them so feared in the late 1960’s. Though many people praised the movement, many Americans criticized them for their aggressiveness and violent tactics. The Black Panthers are a revolutionary party founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966 in Oakland, California. The purpose for starting this party originally was meant to protect African American neighborhoods from police brutality, but as time went on many members believed in arming all African Americans, not participating in drafts and other sorts of activist activities, to fight oppression and for fair treatment. The black panthers’ goals were, “and end to police brutality, exemption from military service, quality education, decent housing, land, peace, bread and justice”. Black Panther members were seeing that many of the civil rights activists’ nonviolent tactics were not causing much change. Judson Jeffries states, “Leaders within the Black Power movement, on the other hand, saw themselves as the heirs to Malcom X……. Malcom had urged Blacks to take a more proactive stance against racism. The nonviolent tactics of Dr. Martin L. King Jr. were not viable option for Black people”, from this we learn a little about where these violent tactics used by the party came from. A result of using brute force the FBI teamed with local authorities to launch investigations and raids on the party, this led to many members being imprisoned or killed by authorities. This was the consequence of exposing the government and justice system and they knew it would be. On a daily basis many were harassed, confronted and even arrested but to many they believed that this form of activism was the only option for many African Americans and this was a main reason the party grew such a following, it is reported that at its peak the party had about 5,000 members. It is said that within two years of the party’s existence they had already become one of the most prominent activist groups that had ever existed, that could be true in which way you look at it. They had become so strong and popular they had created a charter school in Oakland where they originated from, and also were able to create political campaigns. As a result of using violence the party is better known for fighting with police than its actual help to African American communities after the civil rights movement. In mainstream media members of the party were sought out to be hardcore people with mean faces, but what many media outlets failed to show was all the times the party were handing out food to their communities and helping them in many ways. The party wanted fair treatment and an end to slavery and showed that they’d go to drastic measures in order to reach their ultimate goals. The Black Panther Party went through many changes over the years, ranging from change in leadership to separation between the west and east coast. While going through all the changes they never let them stray away from their ultimate goals and fighting racism. The Black Panthers “following Malcom X, Stokely Carmichael, and the revolutionary activists of the Black Power Movement, called out the structural and policy roots of racism, poverty, state violence, and inequality……. A nation sick with disease of materialism, militarism, and racism.” the slogan used by the party was “Black Lives Matter” which is a term that you often hear today in reference to this time period. The party had many slogans and terms they used that they were known for. They designed their own language and way of speaking to show how they were anti-Black. The Party also had their own sense of fashion, it was unique. Mostly involved using all black outfits and wearing leather jackets, this separated them from a regular person, this also gave them a sense of unity which would easily be identifiable by a common person. The party had a uniform that every member would follow to show they were a group, they would use them in everyday life or to rallies, no matter what the occasion was. No one from the party moved from the basic uniform required but some put personal touches on them. Most of their fashion came from African culture, and till this day you can see influenced if it used, especially in professional athletes, actors/actresses, and high-profile people.
The Black Panther Party was started by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966. Robyn Spencer claims, “Today Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the founders of the Black Panther Party, might written off as stereotypes or statistics. Newton was an ex-convict and a seasoned hustler who straddled the formal and informal economy with ease”, Many would think that someone with the typical background as someone like Newton would fall in the category as many African Americans in the time period. On February 17, 1942, Newton was born named after a Governor in Louisiana. His father was a sharecropper while also being a Preacher at a Baptist Church. Huey Newton was able to graduate high school while not being able to read, he would eventually have to teach himself. After high school he decided to get a higher education and enrolled in Merritt College where he would eventually meet Bobby Seale. At Merritt College he would acquire and associate degree in Arts and eventually work his way to Ph. D. In Many articles the Party would refer to “The genius of Huey P. Netwon”, as a young teenager he had already started involving himself in Activism.
Bobby Seale was born on October 22, 1936 in Dallas Texas. Seale was the oldest in the family while only having two other siblings. Having an abusive father and living in poverty in Dallas, they decided to pack their belongings and move to California. While in California he attended Berkley College where he his political mindset started. He would eventually join the Air Force in 1955, and later released because of an altercation in 1959. Some would say this is where he’d gain some of his militant mindset. His violent way of fighting racism also came from his inspiration Malcom X, who believed the only way to solve this issue was by using brute force against authorities.
They both met at Merritt College where they both had similar ideas on how to end police brutality. In the book The Revolution has come: Black power, gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, Spencer Robyn say’s, “They were part of the nationwide decision by grassroot activists to address pervasive police brutality against men and women in their communities.”, Newton and Seale planned to accomplish the same goal as activists, but had a different method in doing so. They did not believe in peacefully protesting, they believed in using force to protect African Americans against racist and the police. As their party became bigger and bigger they expanded their goals and at one point became the new voice of the civil rights movement. Unfortunately in 1989, Newton was shot dead in Oakland California. It’s said a crack dealer, was asking him for drugs and shot him.
The Black Panther Party realized they were on the short end of an economic and social struggle, one could even say that it is a part of racism. You could trace racism back to those two things, and both are things they fought for and wanted more of. Floyd Hayes says, “By the mid-1960s, the liberal integrationists Civil Right Movement reached a point of diminishing returns for the masses of Black urban working-class people, who were caught in the bubbling cauldron of growing impoverishment, mounting unemployment, and increasing educational sabotage.” At some point the Black community was reaching the point of never being able to reach economic status of the rest of the Americans. A reason for them believing this was because of the education young Black people were getting a long with their being segregated schools. Not allowing young Black people in the United States to have equal opportunity to have a better educational opportunity was one strategy to keeping them in lower income situations. Without a better education many of them did not have the intellectual opportunity to work higher mentally demanding jobs. We can not expect a Black man or women to become a lawyer when he or she has only a high school diploma. Later in the book Floyd Hayes claims, “Racism was never more evident than in the public-school system. In Los Angeles, students of color made up 90 percent of the student body in at least forty schools. In a city known for its affluence and prosperity, unemployment ran as high as 30 percent in some areas of Watts.” This shows some of the statistics of poverty in the Black communities. He goes onto explain that when residents in these areas asked that 18 million of antipoverty funding be spent on Watts, the mayor of Los Angeles responded with a racist comment, pretty much claiming it was there faults they were in such situation. Many instances like this sparked tension between the Black community and authorities causing riots in many instances. The Party had realized that their economic status would never see change if they did night for a fair opportunity in schooling. In the year 1973 the party started their first elementary school in Oakland California. The first school was started on International Boulevard in an old church, where they were able to keep open using private donations and grants. The school had about 160 students and would eventually shut down in 1982 when the party separated. This was one case where the party tried making changes in order to change their economic status starting from the bottom up. I’m sure you have a fair understanding of what many of the party members social status was based off what their economic standpoint as a result from poor education.
The Black Panther Party created opportunities for children to get free breakfast in school. Foner in his book The Black Panthers Speaks says, “this program was created because the Black Panther Party understands that our children need a nourishing breakfast every morning so that they can learn”, they included key nutrients that they would need on a daily basis. The Party was tired of their people being hungry, and with donations of concerned people they were able to provide children breakfast. The Black Panther Party said:
It is a beautiful sight to see our children eat in the morning after remembering the times when our stomachs were not full, and even the teachers in the schools say that there is a great improvement in the academic skills of the children that do get breakfast. At one time there were children that passed out in class from hunger or had to be sent home for something to eat. But our children shall be fed, and the Black Panther Party will not let the malady of hunger keep our children down any longer
They believed that investing in their youth and communities was the proper thing to do in order to improve African American communities. This is one program started by the Black Panther Party to meet he basic needs of their people, this program was attributed to Huey Newton. He knew that in such areas were not possible of giving the “American Experience”. A quote by the Black Panther Party says, “ educating the people to the fact they have a right to the best that modern technology and human knowledge can produce.” This is their idea of what Black people deserved.
Another way the party was able to improve their communities was by starting the first Liberation school. This was point five a part of the ten point program that the panthers had put as their goals they wanted to accomplish, I will speak of what those are later. Point 5 says, “We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American Society. We want education that teaches our true history and our role in the present-day society.”, this is what many party members strived for, they wanted a fair opportunity for themselves and for their children. This was a reason for starting a Liberation school, they believed that school should teach them the art of survival because that is what they had to do in those times. Starting a school like such was their second program implemented in order to better Black society and communities. The curriculum implemented in these schools was, “designed to meet the needs of the youth, to guide them in their search for revolutionary truths and principles.”, by the time the school had opened they had fully functional school serving many kids every day. They were able to start two more schools in Oakland and in San Francisco and at the time had planned to open up more. They believed that the students were eager to learn because of what they had to endure on a daily basis. They knew they had to educate themselves in order to fight oppression, these revolutionaries knew they had to make a change and they worked from the bottom up, educating the youth to understand that they are capable of living a better life. At these schools each week they had a curriculum coordinator who organized weekly schedules filled with what they were going to learn. Val Douglas explained how it was just one big family by saying, “We call ourselves the Big Family along with the rest of our class brothers and sisters all over the world.” They were taught that the struggle they were going through was one they would endure together, and was one they could get themselves out of if they all fought together. They wanted these students to work together and get the feel for what it is like, they wanted to unite them in order to get all of them on the same page.
The Party would eventually create an alternative health care center in the 1970s called the People Medical Care Center. The center located in Chicago did not receive much attention until city authorities tried closing it a few days after it was opened. It only served about 100 people a week. The reason for the party starting this center was because they believed the health care system had numerous problems, while also wanting to provide health care for people in their communities. They were able to establish 13 clinics all over the country, proving many people in poverty to have free health care. In the book The Black Panthers Speak Lincoln Sheffield spoke to a woman that had worked in the first clinic opened in Chicago. She explained that, “In a typical evening of duty, Mrs. Woods may help treat 20 or 30 people, some of whom come in after being referred by the survey teams, and many who come after hearing from friends and neighbors about the center”, Woods talks in many ways about how organized center was. They helped many people that were not able to afford health care, and many people also helped volunteer in order to help the center run smoothly. This was another implementation by The Black Panther Party in order to help their communities strive and giving them better opportunities to succeed.
When Huey Newton and Bobby Seale created the Black Panther Party they created a set of rulers that members of the party had to abide by called the 10 Point Program. The Party released these rules for everyone to see on Maty 15, 1967 whey they published them on their weekly newspaper. Newton when creating these rules separated them into “What We Want” and “What We Believe”, they started off as a set of rules and then later were added to them when needed. To give you an idea of what some these were, number one says, “We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.” Number two is, “We want full employment for our people”, and skipping forward to number ten, it goes, “We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace. And as our major political objective, a United Nations-supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the Black colony in which one Black colonial subject will be allowed to participate, for the purpose of determining the will of the Black people as to their nation destiny.” When looking over some of these needs that the party was asking for, many of them were just basic human rights that every American citizen is allowed to have today. I don’t believe they were asking for anything extra or unjust. I believe they just wanted to be treated with respect and have basic human rights that everyone deserve. The party goes on to quote this part in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This was the same thing we wanted when becoming a country and is what The Black Panther wanted for their communities.
The Party also created twenty-six rules that all members of the party had follow in order to call themselves a member. Before the rules are given it says:
Every member of the BLACK PANTHER PARTY throughout this country of racist America must abide by these Rules as functional members of this party. CENTRAL COMMITTEE members, CENTRAL STAFFS, and LOCAL STAFFS, including all captains, subordinate to either national state, and local leadership of the BLACK PANTHER PARTY will enforce these rules. Length of suspension or other disciplinary action necessary for violation of these rules will depend on national decisions by national, state or state area, and local committees, and staffs where said rule of the BLACK PANTHER PARTY WERE VIOLATED.
The party took these rules very seriously and would go to great extents in order to make sure they were followed. The reason for making many of these rules was to make sure members couldn’t take advantage, and to make sure operations ran smoothly. It held each and everyone one of the members accountable while being a member of the party and making sure they knew right from wrong when on duty. Some of the rules included, “No party member can have narcotics or weed in his possession while doing party work”, and “No party member cane DRUNK while doing daily party work”, they also had rules such as, “Political education classes are mandatory for general membership” all these rules implemented by the party were meant to keep members in check and so there are no excuses when they do mess up. They also include the eight points of attention which were just simple rules to keep them honest, a lot were to show that members of the party should be respectful to people outside the party. The Three main rules of discipline were meant to have members be respectful to their higher-ranking officials within the party.
The Black Panther Party had a standard uniform that all members of the party would abide by to show they were apart of the Black Panther Party. The first thing you might notice when looking at their uniform is that it had a very urban militant look to it. They did this so when marching at a rally or even they look as a cohesive unit, almost like an army of soldiers marching down the street. One could even say it was an intimidation factor when onlookers watched them they’d be feared. Starting with their black berets used, this was a signature piece of their uniform because it was a real way of showing the militancy. It could be said it was the most influential piece of their whole uniform because it was used by strugglers in third world countries. They would “rakishly tilt to one side”. Pieces of the uniform also included “To further increase visibility in the community they devised chic and stylish uniforms: black slacks, a powder blue shirt or turtleneck, a black leather jacket.” The black leather jackets used were one of the first pieces added to their uniforms accompanied by all black glasses. Most black leather jackets worn by the party were accompanied with a Black Panther patch that symbolized that they were a part of the party. When these uniforms were seen by people they were described as, “sharp, clean, and organized.” Bobby Seale the co-founder of the Black
Panther Party described as “The uniform represented and organization and was a symbol of powerful masculinity to be emulated: “To the brother on the Block the lumpen, ‘Man, them dudes sho’ is sharp. Baby I sho’ wish I had them knobs and some pimp socks like that.’ You know what I mean. But at the same time, it gave us a chance to talk with people about the ten point platform and program, really what we were about.”” Bobby Seale had a very colorful way of explaining their uniform, while he knew they were sharp and stylish he also knew that behind that uniform they were all business and trying to get people to join their movement and having them know what they were about. A picture of party member was shown on The Black Panthers Portraits from and unfinished revolution, It shows a picture of a party member dressed up in uniform, what really sticks out is the all black uniform, it gives a sense of intimidations and darkness.
One of the most important court cases for the Black Panther Party was Bobby Seal v. Judge Hoffman Case. There is a picture of Seale being gagged, shackled and bound in court when he was being tried. With the cruel punishment imposed on Seale, he was also given an unfair sentence according to the Black Panthers. Philip Foner says:
Bobby Seale was one of eight defendants in the Chicago Conspiracy trial who were being tried under and amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1968-the so called Rap Brown Amendment- which makes it a crime to cross state lines with intents to incite a riot. The penalty for such intentions is five years in jail. Together with the other seven defendants, Seale was accused of having come to Chicago in August, 1968, with the intention of creating a riot and stirring up violence during the Democratic National Convention being held in that city. During the trial, Seale had frequent clashes with Judge Hoffman.
Seale claims that he was denied the counsel of his choosing because his Lawyer could not attend the trial because he was recovering from an operation. Judge Hoffman also was accused of not allowing Seale to defend himself in, in his lawyers absence. When Seale was arguing his point, Judge Hoffman would quiet him and now allow him to talk. This forced Seale to repeatedly interrupt the Judge Hoffman pleading his case as to why he was being tried unfairly. On October 29th “Seale was chained hand and foot to a metal chair and a gag muslin was put in his mouth so that he could not continue to challenge the judge and interrupt the trial proceedings. During the next few days, the gag was strengthened.” When riots broke out a few days later, the judge ordered the chains and gag to be removes from Bobby Seale. On April 23rd, 1970 Judge Hoffman declared a mistrial in the case and sentenced him to sixteen terms of 3 months each on contempt charges. This case showed how cruel the justice system was towards African Americans. This angered many members of the Party, and people in Black communities.
The Black Panther Party never directly linked itself to a certain religion, but many of their principles and members were religious. Many of Malcom X’s practices were implemented in the Party’s structure of functioning. Members such as Dwight York were known for their religious backgrounds. Dwight York was a founder of the Nuwaubian Islamic Hebrews and was a leader in the community. The party never associated itself with a specific Religion but many of its values and rules come from the Islamic religion. Within the 10 point program, rules such as not being allowed to drink or be under the influences of drugs are not allowed while doing party work, this could be traced back to the Islamic Religion. The Black Panther Party also had fought for their religious freedom. On 9 September 1971, “1,300 inmates at Attica
State Prison in New York rebelled, took hostages, and demanded religious freedom and free and uncensored access to newspapers.” The Prisoners requested that Bobby Seale go to the prison for negotiations.
The Black Panther Party tried to make alliances with many other organizations, but their main focus was on organizations that were willing to make a change against the power structure. They Primarily would target non-racist white people and with people of color to make alliances with. There were plenty of organization that had the same beliefs as the Black Panthers and some even based their principles and rules of the 10 point program created by the Black Panthers. The parties alliances stood beyond U.S borders, they had alliances with many organizations in other countries. In 1968 the Party had made allies with the Peace and Freedom Party. They made this pact with them in order to make and effort to have Huey Newton, a founder of the Black Panther Party to be released. In Black Panthers Speak it states that:
The Party also established alliances with a number of groups which were influenced by the Black Panthers and modeled their programs and activities in their own communities on the Black Panther Party. Among them were the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican gang which had become a political movement; the Brown Berets, a group of young Chicanos (Mexican- Americans); the Young Patriots, a group of young whites who aimed to organize poor whites; and the Red Guards, a group of Chinese- Americans who organized to battles oppression in the Chinese- American communities under the slogan of “Yellow Power”. The Black Panther Party also worked closely with Black Students Union which were influenced by the ideology and program of the Black Panthers
The Black Panther really targeted organizations that shared the same beliefs as them in order to try and change higher powers that they believe were being unfair.
One of the more know allies of the Black Panther Party was Puerto Rican organizations, the Young Lords. This party was started in New York, in January of 1969 and was named after Pedro Albizu Campos, who was a nationalist- socialist that started the first armed revolution in Puerto Rico. It was made of primarily college students that would travel to New York from Chicago that became involved with “street brothers”. Within the streets they were able to become involved with the Black Panthers.
The Black Panther was one of the most influential radical groups of all time, and one that made a big change in the Civil Rights movement. Their goals were, “and end to police brutality, exemption from military service, quality education, decent housing, land, peace, bread and justice.” And they went to extreme lengths in order to achieve these goals. They can’t say they completely achieved all of them, but their party had an impact on society today. The Party used many different tactics in order to fight back against racists in the United States, but their biggest belief was using brute force in order to receive the treatment they wanted. The Black Panther Party only wanted to make changes to the African American communities in order to allow them the same opportunity as a white man. With Huey Newtons and Bobby Seale’s 10 point program they were able to organize a well-functioning organization. They were also able to gain a big following allowing them to have member all over the country. In the end the Black Panther was a fairly successful Radical Party that had their goals set, and knew exactly what direction their party was going to go in.
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