Black Panthers

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Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in October 1966, in Oakland, California.  The name was shortened to the Black Panther Party later. Stokely Carmicheal, the leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) also joined the Black Panther Party.  The Black Panther Party’s main goals were to end police brutality, and strengthen Black communities through organization and education. There was only one problem in their plan.  The problem was J. Edgar Hoover. J. Edgar Hoover was the director of the FBI, and he got the Federal Bureau of Investigation involved.  He wanted to make America safer. While J. Edgar Hoover was destroying the Black Panther Party for the safety of white Americans, and was destroying the lives of black Americans.

In October 1966, the Black Panther Party made their rules and regulations known to everyone.  They were called the ten-point platform.  The main points of the platform were that the Black Panther Party believed that they should be able to choose their own destiny, that every man should be employed by the government to be able to support himself and his family, and that no black man should serve in any military branch.  The Black Panther Party refused to fight for a government that does not treat them as full citizens of the United States of America.  This would reduce the military number of men drastically.  The Black Panther Party may have seemed like they were revolting against America, but were only doing what they felt was right.  A major difference between the Black Panther Party and other black nationalist groups of the day can be seen in the plan for a communist America: to them, the mother country was America, not Africa. The Black Panthers felt like they belonged in America, but were being oppressed.

One of the fundamental areas, in which the Black Panther Party contributed to the Black Liberation Movement, was self-defense of other blacks.  This is what separated the Black Panther Party from other black organizations.  In the 1960′s, the Black Panther Party used guns not for senseless violence, but for self-defense.  They carried guns around like wallets to protect any black person that was being mistreated. They also carried guns around to protect themselves from police brutality that occurred often. The Black Panther Party knew that if used correctly it could give them a huge advantage over their oppressors in the Black Liberation movement.  This could prevent the Black Panther Party to be labeled as a violent group of people.

Another fundamental thing that attracted blacks to join and support the Black Panther Party was its policy of doing something for the people.  The Black Panther Party organized community programs such as free breakfast for children, Liberation school for kids, free clothes drives, campaigns to stop drugs and crime, and a whole lot more.  The Black Panther Party made the country understand that it wanted to make America a safer, better place.

The Black Panther Party made significant contributions to the art of propaganda. The Black Panther Party found ways to spread their messages and ideas across to the citizens of America; such as: its newspaper, The Black Panther, mass rallies, speaking tours, slogans, posters, leaflets, cartoons, buttons, symbols: like the fist, graffiti, political trials, and even funerals. The Black Panther Party even had enough power to spread its ideas on television and the radio.  The main idea the Black Panther Party had to spread was that, “We were human, we were ready for equality, we were equal to whites, disproving racist ideas held by whites.”  Some blacks decided to do a little research about themselves and their history.  Some famous musicians used phrases such as “Free your mind and your ass will follow” by George Clinton, and “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud” by James Brown, to express themselves in the Black Liberation Movement.  Some disapproved of the Black Panther Party’s methods.  The main person would be J. Edgar Hoover.

J. Edgar Hoover was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the Black Panther Party era.  According to J. Edgar Hoover, the Black Panther Party was,” the number one threat to the internal security of the nation.”  The FBI then labeled the Black Panther Party as “black racists.”  J. Edgar really disliked the Black Panther Party.  J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI used a form of McCarthyism against the Black Panther Party.  He called it, black propaganda.  The main point of black propaganda was to make the Black Panthers look like a bad influence for all people.  For instance; the FBI made coloring books that had horrible images of all sorts of things, and blamed it on the Black Panther Party.  The FBI also went after people who supported the Black Panther Party. Finally, the FBI raided Panther Headquarters around the country in places such as: Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; San Diego and Sacramento, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   This all led to the beginning of the end of the Black Panther Party and everything they had done for black people.

However, the Panthers were ultimately unable to live down the negative presentation of their philosophy and ideology and were effectively annihilated by government forces. After J. Edgar Hoover issued the order to “neutralize” members of the Panthers in combination with police executions of dozens and the arrests of hundreds of Black Panther Party members from across the country eventually spelled out the demise of the Party. Nevertheless, the Panthers made a lasting impression on the nature of not only black nationalism and civil rights, but they helped create and motivate thousands of young, lower-class citizens to stand up for their human rights while helping to redefine the New America.

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