Black Panthers The 1960’s ushered in a period of massive activism, both political and social. Many single interest groups rose to the forefront of American media and became household names. These groups made great changes in American thought and society, some even made changes around the world. Of the latter, the Black Panther Party is one of the most intriguing. The Black Panther Party rose to prominence almost immediately after its formation, and within a few years spread around the globe. Huey P.
Newton, along with Bobby Seale, co-founded the party in October 1966. Similarity of background brought about a large degree of cohesiveness in the party, and originally brought Newton and Seale together. Huey P. Newton, born in 1942 in Louisiana, moved with his family to California in 1945. He grew up in the ghettoes and lived a life similar to the other black youths in ghettoes around the country.
Rarely was he given a chance to do skilled labor. By the time he attended Merritt College, he had a reputation as a tuff guy. According to Marine, One thing that distinguished Newton from other tuffs, though, was his ability to articulate ideas, organize, and get things done. Bobby Seale also grew up in poverty. As a young man he joined the Air Force, where he received important arms and tactical training. Seale was later court-martialed and found himself unable to hold a job. This background created a hostility and aggressiveness that helped to shape his ideals and character.
It was later while attending Merritt College that Seale met Newton. While attending Merritt College, Newton and Seale studied the great revolutionaries such as Marx, Fanon, Lenin, and Malcolm X. It was here that they formed the political and social philosophies that would later shape the Black Panther Party. In October 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale developed the Black Panther Party. Together they drew up a ten-point program entitled ‘What We Want.’ They also put together 26 rules governing the behavior of members.
A unified membership was also very important to the success of the Panthers. Keeping this in mind, consideration of recruits would follow certain guidelines. According to Seale, Newton wanted brothers off the block- brothers who had been pimping, brothers who had been peddling dope, brothers who ain’t gonna take no *censored*, brothers who had been fighting the pigs. The party was quick to begin activities, and in December 1966, proclaims Calloway, the Black Panthers aroused excitement in Oakland, California by ‘picking up the gun’ and patrolling the police. They attempted to explain (persuade) to anyone who would listen that legal patrols of police (the following of police in the ghettoes by armed black panthers) was a first step in improving the condition of black life. The firearms they carried were legal, and people were beginning to take notice.
As a result, a bill was introduced in early 1967, just a few months after the parties’ conception, to the California State Legislature to ban the carrying of loaded firearms. This was a direct attack on the activities and rapidly growing influence of the Panthers. In response to debate on this bill, Newton issued the famous Executive Mandate Number One, in which he noted that black people have begged, prayed, petitioned and demonstrated, among other things, to get the racist power structure to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetrated against Black people and in response to the vicious police dogs, cattle prods, and increased patrols [that] have become familiar sights in black communities and convinced that city hall turns a deaf ear to the pleas of Black people, Newton vowed that the time has come for Black to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late. Bobby Seale, along with twenty-nine armed Panthers, marched to Sacramento, the capitol of California, to deliver this mandate from the steps of the capitol building. All thirty members were arrested.
The delivery of the address, and the subsequent arrest, catapulted the Panthers into the spotlight of the national mass media. Suddenly, the Black Panthers had become a household name. Local groups sprang up across the nation. Tension was escalating between the Panthers and the authorities. On October 28, 1967, one year after the party was founded, a shootout occurred between the Panthers and the police.
One officer was killed and Newton was wounded. Newton’s arrest on murder charges gave the Panthers a rallying cry, and status and visibility nationwide. Eldridge Cleaver, the Panther Minister of Information, fled to Cuba, then to Algiers to escape charges stemming from the shootout. It was here that he developed the Black Panthers International Section. In the span of a couple of years, the Black Panthers were an international organization. In the United States alone, there were over 2,000 members, in 32 chapters in 15 states.
Some chapters implemented community programs, such as the Free Breakfast Program, Liberation schools, and Medical Clinics. Of the international chapters, some were militant, others were propaganda factories. Many groups of activists rose to prominence in the 1960’s. Many of these groups have made profound and lasting impressions on the world. The Black Panthers gave the blacks of the ghettoes a voice and hope, and the support and admiration of people around the globe.
Bibliography BIBLIOGRAPHY Sources Cited Primary Sources Newton, Huey p. To Die for the People, (New York: Random House, 1972) Seale, Bobby. Seize the Time: the Story of the Black Panther party and Huey P. Newton, (New York: Random House, 1970) Secondary Sources Calloway, Carolyn, Group Cohesiveness in the Black Panther Party Journal of Black Studies vol.18 no. 1 (1977) 55- 74 Jones, Charles, The Political Repression of the Black Panther Party 1966- 1971 The Case of the Oakland Bay Area Journal of Black Studies, vol.
18 no. 4 (1988) 415- 434 Marine, G., The Black Panthers (New York: New American Library, 1969) Sandarg, Robert, Jean Genet and the Black Panther Party Journal of Black Studies, vol. 16 no. 3 (1986) 269- 282 History Essays.