In American history, the 60's proved to be a time of radical change. Assisting this change were two idealistic young African-American men. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale after experiencing a lifetime of injustice and witnessing the Watts riots, decided to become an active part towards initiating change. The two became members of R.A.M (revolutionary action movement), this group being very violent was too extreme and not meeting their idealistically militant ideas for reform. After renouncing membership, they decided to form their own organization and the Black Panther Party was born.
In Oakland,CA 1966 these men founded the Black Panther Party. This organiztion mirrored the political views of Malcolm X, and their knowledge of Marxism and Leninism. Newton and Seale met while students of community college, Newton later graduating from San Fransisco law school. In October of 1966 the two penned a ten point declaration which states:
We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine
The Destiny Of Our Black Community.
We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.
We Want Full Employment For Our People.
We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
We Want An End To The Robbery
By The Capitalists Of Our Black Community.
We believe that this racist government has robbed us, and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over fifty million Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.
We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings.
We believe that if the White Landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.
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.
We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.
We Want All Black Men To Be Exempt From Military Service.
We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.
We Want An Immediate End To
Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.
We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.
We Want Freedom For All Black Men
Held In Federal, State, County And City Prisons And Jails.
We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.
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.
We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being, tried by all-White juries that have no understanding of the "average reasoning man" of the Black community.
We Want Land, Bread, Housing, Education,
Clothing, Justice And Peace.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's God entitle them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
In the beginning membership was only allowed to African-Americans, later to be changed. After the rapid expansion to numerous major cities, it was realized that this practice was the behavior of a "Black Supremacist group" and was eliminated. The (BPP) maintained alliances with a diverse group of organizations such as, (SDS) Students for a Democratic Society, Chicano Brown Berets, the post-Stonewall Riot Gay Liberation Front,and the Youth International Party (Yippies). Even though many posses negative ideas regarding the (BPP) as a hostile threat to mankind, the truth was these individuals sought justice and power for all. Yes, they carried firearms but they also carried law journals, and tape recorders for the documenting of conversation during police brutality.
Due to issues involving the internal direction of group policies, The Black Panther party was short lived, collapsing in the early 70's, but their influence was felt by many. J.Edgar Hoover described the (BPP) as being, "The greatest threat to the internal security of this country!" With this firm belief, initiated a systematic murder or imprisonment of its high ranking party members. This misuse and manipulation of government authority only fueled the flames for its member's determination, and recruited the support of high profile celebrities and world leaders. An example of this was displayed during the 1968 Olympics by the winners of the 200m dash. The gold and bronze medalist (Tommie Smith, John Carlos) during the playing of the star spangled banner, with lowered heads, raised a single black glove covered fist. While silver medalist (Peter Norman) provided allegiance by adorning an Olympic project for human rights badge on his jacket. These San Jose University students had planned this display, but Carlos forgot his pair of gloves, so Newton suggested they share Smith's. The three were ostracized by the citizens of the U.S. and Australia. The Americans were suspended from the team and banned from their living quarters in the Olympic villiage. Smith later said "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight." Upon return the two received death threats for years.
It's almost ironic that in 1968, San Jose University scorned its student's behavior now commemorates it with a twenty foot high statue. The athletes remained close friends, Tommie Smith and John Carlos even served as pall-bearers at the funeral for Peter Norman, who passed away in 2006 from a heart attack at the age of 64 yrs old. Their demand for human justice is one of the most recognized moments captured at an Olympic games.
In 1989 the New Black Panther Party Movement began in Dallas,TX receiving extremely mixed reviews. Under chairmanship of Khalid Abdul Muhammad, the original members of the (BPP) insist the (NBPP) is illegitimate, and consider the rebirth an insult. It has been stated:
As guardian of the true history of the Black Panther Party, the [Dr. Huey P. Newton] Foundation, which includes former leading members of the Party, denounces this group's exploitation of the Party's name and history. Failing to find its own legitimacy in the black community, this band would graft the Party's name upon itself, which we condemn... [They denigrate the Party's name by promoting concepts absolutely counter to the revolutionary principles on which the Party was founded... The Black Panthers were never a group of angry young militants full of fury toward the "white establishment." The Party operated on love for black people, not hatred of white people.
– Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation , There Is No New Black Panther Party
This new party is comprised mostly of Black Muslims with a separatist mentality and has a disregard for diversity. Their agenda is negative and its views are racists. Many members voice opinions that are anti-Semitic, mostly in the form of a negative conspiracy theory. This malicious new organization blemishes what the original Black Panther Party stood for with their blatant disrespect for the rights of other cultures. They claim that anyone can use this name and that the original party is filled with a bunch of, "has been wanna be Panthers" just because they have chosen to use a less militant, politically correct approach towards social reform. The New Black Panther Party and their tactics are considered similar to those endorsed by any supremacist group, giving them the appearance of a self-glorified street gang.
The original Black Panther Party helped pave a way to ending poverty, leading to hope with its re-affirmation of pride. These achievements were accomplished with the use of, "Brains and Brawn" . At that time the Panther's views may have seemed a bit quixotic and maybe they were, but unlike the popular view of The Black Panthers, their goal was the acquisition of education, the end of poverty and injustice, for the founding of a positive social evolution.