The Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The party's original purpose was to patrol African American neighborhoods to protect residents from acts of police brutality.
They founded the Black Panthers in the wake of the assassination of black nationalist Malcolm X and after police in San Francisco shot and killed an unarmed black teen named Matthew Johnson.
Newton and Seale drew on Marxist ideology for the party platform. They outlined the organization’s philosophical views and political objectives in a Ten-Point Program.
The Ten-Point Program called for an immediate end to police brutality; employment for African Americans; and land, housing and justice for all.
The Black Panthers were part of the larger Black Power movement, which emphasized black pride, community control and unification for civil rights.
The Black Panthers are also remembered for their noble intentions undermined by the dark machinations of the US state, in the malign guise of the FBI and the omnipotent figure of its devious director, J Edgar Hoover. There is little doubt the Panthers were targeted in ways that were often viciously excessive, including what amounted to extrajudicial killings.
Soon, the downfall of the BPP soon became apparent, and in August 1967 the FBI targeted the Panthers when it launched its COINTELPRO operations designed to prevent "a coalition of militant black nationalist groups". FBI-inspired misinformation, infiltration by informers, and numerous police assaults contributed to the Panther's siege mentality.
On April 6, 1968, police attacked a house containing several Panthers, killing the seventeen year-old treasurer of the party and wounding Cleaver, who was returned to prison as a parole violator. In September 1968 Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to from two to fifteen years in prison. The following December, two Chicago leaders of the party, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, were killed in a police raid. By the end of the decade, according to the party's attorney, twenty-eight Panthers had been killed.
The main goal of the Black Panthers was to create the national organization as a way to collectively combat white oppression. After constantly seeing black people suffer from the torturous practices of police officers around the nation, Newton and Seale helped to form the pioneering black liberation group to help build community and confront corrupt systems of power.
Black Beauty was a theme that the Black Panthers helped to affirm. The sight of black men and women unapologetically sporting their afros, berets and leather jackets had a special appeal to many black Americans at the time. It reflected a new portrayal of self love for black people in the 1960s in a way that attracted many young black kids to want to join the party -- some even wrote letters to Newton asking to join. "The panthers didn’t invent the idea that black is beautiful," former member Jamal Joseph said in Stanley's documentary. "One of the things that Panthers did was [prove] that urban black is beautiful."