The Black Panther Party were involved in violent confrontations with the police and many of its members were arrested. The head of the FBI, Edgar J Hoover, called the Black Panthers "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country". The lack of support from the majority of African Americans, and the arrest of regional leaders, resulted in the collapse of the Black Panther Party in the early 1970's.
Who were the Black Panthers? The Black Panthers were a highly militant Black Power organization who formed the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The Black Panthers openly brandished weapons and adhered to strong socialist and communist ideals believing that violent revolution was the way to achieve the liberation of African Americans.
What year was the Black Panther Party formed? The Black Panther Party was formed in 1966 and its original leaders was Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Elbert "Big Man" Howard, Sherwin Forte, Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton.
What did the Black Panthers do? The Black Panthers took control of their own neighborhoods to aid and protect their communities which included monitoring the behavior of police officers and resisting police brutality.
Black Panthers Facts for kids: The Ten Point Plan
Facts about Black Panthers
The Black Panther Party for self defense was part of the Black Power movement that emerged during the Civil Rights era of the 1960's.
The BPP was established in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Huey Newton took the role of Defense Minister, Bobby Seale took the role of Chairman and Little Bobby Hutton took the role of Treasurer. The founding members were joined by Elbert "Big Man" Howard, Sherwin Forte and Reggie Forte.
The main revolutionary goal of the BPP was to take control and provide protection to their neighborhoods and resist any instances of police brutality.
The BPP sought social justice for African Americans through a combination of revolutionary doctrine, education, and community programs as stated in their Ten Point Program which called for an end to racial oppression, black empowerment and the control of institutions such as schools and hospitals.
The BPP were a highly militant, revolutionary group who urged African Americans to arm themselves in the fight to force whites to grant them equal rights. They advocated the famous creed of Mao Zedong believing that "Political power comes through the barrel of a gun."
The BPP dropped "for Self-Defense" from its name in 1967, but the group remained a paramilitary organization who advocated black nationalist and Marxist-Leninist doctrines and from the examples of revolutionary movements in Africa.
The BPP considered themselves the heirs of many of the views of the much admired Malcolm X, who had been assassinated on February 21, 1965. Betty Shabazz also known as Betty X, was the wife of Malcolm X and BPP members later served as her security escorts.
Eldredge Cleaver (August 31, 1935 – May 1, 1998) an American writer, and political activist joined the BPP as the party's Minister of Information and spokesman, gaining considerable publicity regarding the goals of the organization in his 1967 best selling book, the 'Soul on Ice'.
Angela Davis, an author, radical Civil Rights activist and educator joined the Black Panthers as well as being a member of the Che-Lumumba Club (CRC), an all-black branch of the Communist Party.
The African American author and poet Amira Baraka, formerly known as LeRoi Jones (October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014), published an anthology of protest writing by many African American authors called Black Fire.
On April 1, 1967, Denzel Dowell, a 22 year old African-American resident of North Richmond, California, was killed by sheriff's deputies. Denzel Dowell's family contacted the Black Panther Party for assistance after county officials refused to investigate the case. The Denzel Dowell shooting led to a street rally organized by the Black Panther Party during which 15 armed members of the BPP led the protest. The incident helped to establish the Black Panthers in the public spotlight.
The first issue of the Black Panther Party Black Community News Service was published on April 25, 1967 with the headline "Why Was Denzil Dowell Killed?"
The Mulford Act repealed a law allowing public carrying of loaded firearms. On May 2, 1967, thirty Black Panthers, dressed in black leather jackets, berets, and dark glasses, marched bearing arms, upon the California State Capitol to protest the bill.
Huey Newton was arrested on murder charges on October 28,1967 following an altercation with Oakland police that resulted in the death of one policeman and the wounding of another. His imprisonment led to leading to "Free Huey" rallies. The case against Huey Newton was eventually dismissed after two retrials ended with hung juries.
The Cointelpro, FBI short for "counterintelligence program," against Black nationalists began in 1967, with the BPP as its main target. Edgar J Hoover, head of the FBI, called the Black Panthers "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country".
The Southern California chapter of the BPP was formed in 1968 by Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter (October 12, 1942 – January 17, 1969). On January 17, 1968 Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter and another Panther John Huggins, were shot dead on the campus of UCLA by Kwanzaa, a rival black militant organization, headed by Ron Karenga
On February 25, 1968, Berkeley police officers ransacked the home of Bobby Seale. Bobby Seale and Artie Seale were charged with conspiracy to commit murder but the charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence.
On March 13, 1968 Arthur (Glen) Morris became the first member of the BPP to be killed by "agents" of the U.S. government.
During the time that Huey Newton was in prison, BPP members clashed with police on several occasions and the party's treasurer, Little Bobby Hutton, was killed during of these conflicts on April 6, 1968.
By April 1968, the Southern California chapter of the Black Panthers attracted 50-100 new members every week. As the BPP grew, so did the attacks against it. Little Tommy Lewis, Steve Bartholomew, and Robert Lawrence were all killed as were 15 other members of the BPP.
The Black Power fist salute given by John Carlos and Tommie Smith during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico Olympics shocked and embarrassed the nation and became associated with the Black Panthers.
Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was a radical African-American Civil Rights activist and revolutionary who became deputy chairman of the national BPP and was considered a major threat to the FBI. Fred Hampton was killed during a raid on December 4, 1969 by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Bobby Rush, who had become the BPP's "minister of defense" for the Illinois Black Panther party, called the raiding party an "execution squad".
Support for the BBP dwindled with the terrible events that surrounded the organization. The in-fighting between the rival militant groups, the violence of the race riots, the death of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, and the rise of the militants and black revolutionaries effectively ended the power of the movement by the end of the 1960's.
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