As some may know by now, I place great interest and respect in the Black Panther group, hence why my current icon is the Black Panther logo. Through excessive and near unhealthy research of this political group, I had found many individuals who have had a pivotal role or figure in the black community. From these individuals, I have learnt invaluable lessons and morals with respect to my view of the black community in society as well as me as a character. These Individuals include Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Kwame Nkrumah, Stokely Carmichael (Or Kwame Tore), Kathleen Cleaver, James Baldwin and the list continues. But it is very safe to say that my political and moral positions stem from learning about and understanding the Black Panthers. Thus, I will attempt to show why the Black Panthers deserve so much appreciation.
The Black Panther party of self-defence, more commonly known as the Black Panther Party (BPP), has forever had the perception of being an extremely militant and racial group during their prime in America during the 1960s-1970s, however, it is very reasonable to state that this civil rights group were anything but these labels. Through this blog, the true aims, motivations and actions the BPP had will establish thus allowing the group to be fully appreciated and possibly ignite inspiration for movements in latter the future.
The first step to appreciating the BPP movement simply requires delving into American history and recognising their definitive goals. The Black Panther for Self-Defence were founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Saele (With Huey Newton being the face of the party), and they had the mindset of battling white oppression and the institutionalisation racism black communities had to endure.
The same year the party was founded was when Newton and Saele created the Ten-Point Party Platform which solidified the direction the party desired to take in their civil movements, the program included demands for freedom, socio-economical equality, justice, education etc. This already bespoke the altruistic nature of the BPP; the party had good intentions and plans for the black community and was clearly established for all.
Furthermore, from acknowledging the injustice the black communities faced as a result of the Police force (E.g. multiple shootings/killings of black people and unfair prosecutions), the BPP made it their obligation to monitor the behaviour of the police force in the black community, ensuring acts of police brutality and other injustices do not occur. This was done by BPP members exercising the open gun law, whereby they would patrol corners of streets carrying weapons to deter police from committing unjust acts.
There was at no point during the BPP history where there was unnecessary violence to the public or the government, this does not include times where members were arrested for attempting to commit terrorist acts (E.g. Planted bombs) as this was a result of the COINTELPRO (an FBI group) trying to ignite disorder in the BPP by accusing members of such illicit acts. The fact that the BPP did not represent a group associated with any sort of terror is supported by Huey Newtons article in the first issue of the second volume of the Black Panther newspaper (Page 7), whereby, Newton (The minister of defence of the part) condemned acts of irrational violence to the public as he describes it has “..handing the resistance incorrectly” in response to black masses exciting violence in California, East Oakland where property was damaged by thrown bricks and Molotov cocktails.
In addition, as well as the BPP demanding for better health care, education and food programmes the group acted on this. This was done by initiating several survival programmes, most prominent of these was the Free Breakfast for Children program, which fed more than 20,000 children every week at a time when there weren’t any government programs to do the same. The Panthers also opened a school and offered community classes in economics, first aid, and self-defence; provided drug and alcohol rehabilitation; gave away groceries and clothing; and escorted seniors to medical appointments. The BPP also emphasised the idea of black beauty, that black individuals (more so women) should be proud of their natural hair and should stop using harmful hair products to make their hair resemble that of white people. Just because they deem it more beautiful as a result of society internalising the idea that their own natural is anything but beautiful.
What does all of this mean? It simply displays the prudent and judicious nature the Party were, their movement not only exposed the black community the freedom they deserved but also how to attain and utilise that freedom:
“The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man.
I do not expect the white media to create positive black male images.
If you stop struggling, then you stop life.
Sometimes if you want to get rid of the gun, you have to pick the gun up.
Again these words stem from Huey Newton himself and there is a lot modern black civil right groups can learn from this quote. The Black Panthers acknowledged the bleak reality the black community had to face; living in a white supremacist society, they withheld no frilled or diluted visions for what the community required and most importantly they acted on these demands and goals. This is precisely what differentiates the BPP from most modern and previous civil rights as the BPP understood their racially biased government would never fully meet their needs and demands; racial equality. Thus, they fought for their own struggles as a collective and organised unit.