“This is the twenty-seventh time I have been arrested and I ain’t going to jail no more! The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin’ us is to take over. What we gonna start sayin’ now is Black Power!”- Stokely Carmichael
The Black Panther Movement
The Black Panther Party was one of the first organizations in the history of the United States to struggle for ethnic minority and working class emancipation (marxists.org). The original vision of the Black Panther Party was to serve the needs of oppressed groups in urban black communities and defend them against their oppressors by raising the consciousness of these groups and motivating them to fight for their liberation (blackpanther.org). The Black Panther Party considered their task a revolutionary process (blackpanther.org), in which they wanted to achieve “revolutionary socialism” through mass organizing and community based programs (marxists.org). Their tactics included gathering masses of people, primarily in poor communities, and holding rallies where they explained certain projects about education, tenant rights, business operations, and self-determination. Black Panther Party members also taught and trained those who lived in poor neighborhoods self-defense tactics (franciscodacosta.com). Moreover, the Black Panther Party developed a Free Breakfast Program, a Free Health Clinic, a Clothing and Shoes Program, and a Buses to Prison Program, as well as other programs that responded to the needs of black communities (blackpanther.org).
“They came down on us because we had a grass-roots, real people’s revolution, complete with the programs, complete with the unity, complete with the working coalitions, where we crossed racial lines.”-Bobby Seale
“What We Want- Ten Point Platform”
This is the list of demands and goals created by the Black Panther Party:
1. WE WANT FREEDOM. WE WANT POWER TO DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.
2. WE WANT FULL EMPLOYMENT FOR OUR PEOPLE. We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every person employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and 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.
3. WE WANT AN END TO THE ROBBERY BY THE CAPITALISTS OF OUR BLACK AND OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES. 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 American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.
4. WE WANT DECENT HOUSING, FIT FOR THE SHELTER OF HUMAN BEINGS. We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.
5. WE WANT DECENT EDUCATION FOR OUR PEOPLE THAT EXPOSES THE TRUE NATURE OF THIS DECADENT AMERICAN SOCIETY. WE WANT EDUCATION THAT TEACHES US OUR TRUE HISTORY AND OUR ROLE IN THE PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY. We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.
6. WE WANT COMPLETELY FREE HEALTH CARE FOR All BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE. We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.
7. WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR, All OPPRESSED PEOPLE INSIDE THE UNITED STATES. We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the united States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.
8. WE WANT AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL WARS OF AGGRESSION. We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.
9. WE WANT FREEDOM FOR ALL BLACK AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE NOW HELD IN U. S. FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY, CITY AND MILITARY PRISONS AND JAILS. WE WANT TRIALS BY A JURY OF PEERS FOR All PERSONS CHARGED WITH SO-CALLED CRIMES UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS COUNTRY. We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.
10. WE WANT LAND, BREAD, HOUSING, EDUCATION, CLOTHING, JUSTICE, PEACE AND PEOPLE’S COMMUNITY CONTROL OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY. When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds 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 to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. (blackpanther.org)
“We realized at a very early point in our development that revolution is a process.
It is not a particular action, nor is it a conclusion.”- Huey Newton
Black Panther Party Founders
Huey P. Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana on February 17, 1942. Growing up, Newton was no stranger to the violence of the streets of Oakland and the rampant racism in the United States. In his autobiography entitled “Revolutionary Suicide” Newton describes the racist attitudes of white teachers towards black students. Despite his several arrests during high school, Huey Newton attended Merritt College, San Francisco Law School and Oakland City College. While attending Oakland City College, he developed an interest in politics and stopping the oppressive conditions of blacks in the United States. It was here that Newton joined with Bobby Seale to form the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Newton was charged with several murders during his lifetime and spent three years in prison. On August 22, 1989, Newton was shot dead in Oakland over a drug dispute (socialjustice.ccnmtl.columbia.edu).
“You can jail a Revolutionary, but you can’t jail the Revolution.”- Huey Newton
Bobby Seale was born on October 22, 1936 in Dallas, Texas. Seale and his family moved to Oakland, California during World War II. After serving in the United States Air Force for three years after high school, Seale entered Merritt College in 1962. During his time at Merritt College, Bobby Seale attended one of Malcolm X’s public speeches and was influenced to join the Afro-American Association and become active in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1966, Bobby Seale joined with Huey Newton to form the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense. In 1968, Seale was charged with conspiring to incite riots around the Democratic Party Convention and was later found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison. Seale was released from prison in 1972 and renounced political violence to concentrate on conventional politics (spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk).
“You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity.”- Bobby Seale
Other Black Panther Leaders
“You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.”-Eldridge Cleaver
“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.” –Assata Shakur