Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary Black militant political organization. It was active within the United States in the late 1960s into the 1970s.
The group was founded on the principles of its Ten-Point Program, a document that called for "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace," as well as exemption from military service that would utilize Blacks to "fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America."
The Black Panther Party collapsed in the early 1970s, after party membership had started to decline during Huey Newton's 1968 manslaughter trial. There have been a variety of allegations about the lengths to which law enforcement officials went in their attempts to discredit and destroy the organization; including allegations of assassination.
In 1965, Huey Newton was released from jail, and, with his friend from Oakland City College, Bobby Seale, had joined a black power group called the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), which had a chapter in Oakland and followed the writings of Robert F. Williams. Originally from North Carolina, Williams published a pro-communist newsletter called The Crusader from China, where he fled to escape kidnapping charges. RAM was extremely violent; in 1965, three east coast RAM members were charged with conspiring to blow up the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, and the Washington Monument. Newton and Seale eventually left RAM seeking a group even more radical and violent.
They wrote their initial platform statement, the ten-point program, with the help of Huey's brother, Melvin, and decided on uniforms of blue shirts, black pants, black leather jackets, Black Berets, and openly displayed loaded shotguns.
The party rejected the integrationist stance of Martin Luther King, and focused on revolution, taking many ideas from Maoism. The party turned to the works of Karl Marx, Lenin, and Mao to form their revolutionary structure . In consciously working toward such a revolution, they considered themselves the vanguard party, “committed to organizing support for a socialist revolution.”
However, the party did not fully agree with Karl Marx's analysis of the so-called lumpenproletariat (unemployed and uneducated classes). Marx felt that this class lacked the political consciousness required to lead a revolution. Newton, on the other hand, was inspired by his reading of post-colonial theorist Frantz Fanon and his belief that the lumpen was of utmost importance, saying about these "brothers off the block" that, “If you didn't relate to these cats, the power structure would organize these cats against you.”
The Ten Point Program
- We want power to determine the destiny of our black and oppressed communities.
- We want full employment for our people.
- We want an end to the robbery by the capitalist of our Black Community.
- We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings.
- 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 want completely free health care for all black and oppressed people.
- 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 want an immediate end to all wars of aggression.
- 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 want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and people's community control of modern technology.