Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Black Panther Party: Heroes and Pariahs

Most bay area natives, especially those over the age of 40, are familiar with the Black Panther Party (BPP) and their legacy. The BPP and the personalities that emerged from it, has captured the imaginations of many. The current BPP refers to themselves historically as:

"a progressive political organization that stood in the vanguard of the most powerful movement for social change in America since the Revolution of 1776 and the Civil War: that dynamic episode generally referred to as The Sixties. It is the sole black organization in the entire history of black struggle against slavery and oppression in the United States that was armed and promoted a revolutionary agenda, and it represents the last great thrust by the mass of black people for equality, justice and freedom."
Others have referred to the BPP as an “African American revolutionary left-wing organization,” terrorists and or community heroes. Regardless of what side of the polemical pole you stand on, the Black Panther Party has left a lasting legacy in the history of America, and its relations to social activist groups.

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, as the group was initially called, was “founded in Oakland, California by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton on October 15, 1966, the organization initially set forth a doctrine calling primarily for the protection of African American neighborhoods from police brutality. “ Their political leftist leanings and counter-culture ideologies, ensured that the BPP would eventually be put on the FBI’s terrorist watch list. So much so that the FBI, through their COINTELPRO program, attempted to discredit and tear the group apart. At one time, J. Edgar Hoover , the head of the FBI, called the BPP-
"The greatest threat to the internal security of the country..”
But on top of what some saw as negatives, the BPP also did many good things for their communities’ nationwide: free food giveaway programs, community health classes, keeping a watchful on local police forces to cut down on police brutality against Blacks and a free breakfast for children program. If no longer considered one of the greatest threats, the Black Panther Party is an oft-written about entity whose history and legacy will not dissipate anytime soon.


Howard L. Bingham's Black Panthers, 1968
The Black Panthers : photographs
Revolutionary suicide
The Huey P. Newton reader
Assata : an autobiography
Seize the time : the story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton
Black Panther : the revolutionary art of Emory Douglas
The Black Panthers Speak
Black Panther[videorecording] ; San Francisco State on strike
In search of common ground : conversations with Erik H. Erikson and Huey P. Newton
In search of the Black Panther Party : new perspectives on a revolutionary movement
A Panther is a black cat

1 comment: