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Black Panther Party, original name Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, African American revolutionary party, founded in 1966 in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The party’s original purpose was to patrol African American neighbourhoods to protect residents from acts of police brutality.
See the fact file below for more information on the Black Panther Party or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Black Panther Party worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
BEGINNINGS OF THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY
- The Black Panther Party was initially comprised of black families who moved from cities in the South during the Second World War to more northwestern cities in the United States.
- Their primary objective was to develop new forms of politics that would address the poverty and racism they encountered.
- As people who fled racial attacks and prejudice in the south, these families encountered similar bouts of racism, poverty, and prejudice in the cities they fled to.
- In October of 1966, two men named Huey Newton (left) and Bobby Seale (right) founded the Black Panther Party in an attempt to patrol the run-down, “ghetto” neighborhoods where many black people had been forced to live, and to protect residents and challenge the increasing acts of police brutality.
- The two had met previously in 1962 when they both attended Merritt College, and soon had a merging of minds regarding civil rights issues.
- They read and were inspired by people like Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, and James Baldwin.
- A Marxist-esque perspective developed between the two, where the liberation of oppressed peoples was dependent upon their gaining control of their own communities.
- They also practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the United States government, and organized community-based programs to educate and inform minority groups.
- The Black Panther Party set out their aims, and were very clear about the types of reform needed in order to advance African-Americans.
- On May 2nd, 1967, 30 people representing the Black Panther Party marched to the state legislature in Sacramento in protest against the pending Mulford Act, and to make it known that they believed African-Americans should have the right to bear arms.
- On May 15, 1967, the Black Panther Party publicized its famous “Ten-Point Program”, which outlined the original ten wants from party members.
- This program was publicized in order to initiate community projects, forge alliances with like-minded individuals (including progressive white radicals), and to challenge police brutality against African-Americans.
- By 1968, the Black Panther Party had about 2,000 members.
- The Black Panther Party “Ten-Point Program” included the following:
- Freedom. Power to determine the destiny of the Black Community.
- Full employment.
- An end to the robbery by the white men of the Black Community.
- Decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
- Education that exposes true history and our role in the present day.
- Black men exempt from military service.
- Immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.
- Freedom for Black men held in all levels of jail.
- Proper and fair trials from members of the Black Community.
- Land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace.
ACTIVISM IN THE PARTY AND INTERNATIONALLY
- In response to the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, a team of Black Panther Party members ambushed Oakland police officers two days later.
- One of the party members, Bobby Hutton, was killed.
- About one year later, a conference in Oakland, with about 5,000 people representing a number of groups, was held.
- The Black Panther Party had, by that point, become known to the FBI as the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country”.
- The FBI program was called “COINTELPRO”, and while its objective was to neutralize black nationalist groups, it targeted the Panthers in 233 of the 295 authorized COINTELPRO actions.
- The FBI hoped that their counterintelligence activities, assassinations of leading members of the party, psychological warfare, and other actions would lead to the disruption and dismantling of black activist groups like the Black Panther Party.
- Years later, when the FBI’s actions were revealed, the director of the agency publicly apologized for “wrongful uses of power”.
SURVIVAL PROGRAMS, THE DECLINE, AND THE PARTY LEGACY
- On October 28, 1967, Huey Newton got into an altercation with police officer John Frey, who was shot to death as a result. This led to the “Free Huey!” campaign, and Newton’s eventual release three years later when his conviction was reversed after an appeal.
- By the end of the 1960s, the party had expanded into cities throughout the United States, and their newspaper had a circulation of 250,000.
- Although involved in numerous violent encounters with police, the Black Panther Party adopted a “Serve the People” mindset (as advised in Mao’s book The Little Red Book), and started a number of popular community programs.
- Some of these programs included:
- Free breakfast programs for school children
- Free health clinics in African-American communities across the US
- Legal aid programs
- Transportation assistance and an ambulance service
- Manufacturing and distributing free shoes to poor people
- The strength of the Black Panther Party declined into the 1970s, fuelled in part by the FBI’s campaign, and Huey Newton’s desire to “purge” leaders he believed to be disloyal to the cause.
- In March 1970, a party member named Eldridge Cleaver, was sent misinformation from the FBI that the party was trying to remove him from power. The FBI reportedly used false documents and forged letters to cause a divide between Eldridge Cleaver and the leader, Huey Newton.
- Cleaver was expelled by the group in 1971, which became famously known as the Newton-Cleaver split.
- By September of 1971, hundreds of members quit the Black Panther Party across the United States.
- In 1982, the party officially dissolved.
- Today, the impact the Black Panther Party had on society is debatable, with some saying it was the most effective organization in the 20th century and some who vehemently disagree.
- A “New Black Panther Party” was formed in Texas in 1989, but many members of the original party objected to this.
Black Panther Party Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Black Panther Party across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Black Panther Party worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Black Panther Party, original name Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, African American revolutionary party, founded in 1966 in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The party’s original purpose was to patrol African American neighbourhoods to protect residents from acts of police brutality.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Black Panther Party Crossword
- Newton and Seale
- Opinion Piece
- Primary Source Analysis
- Letter to Huey Newton
- Black Panther Party Wordsearch
- Panthers Acronym
- Panthers Across America
- Quote Analysis
- Timeline of Events
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Link will appear as Black Panther Party Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 7, 2019
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