Who are the Black Panthers?
The Black Panther Party in one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented social/political organization in American history. Their story, perverted by COINTELPRO and government propaganda, is far more complex and important. The organization, founded for the purpose of protecting blacks from the police in the Bay area, blossomed into a nation wide (and if fact international) organization dedicated to defending people from police violence, providing human services to the poor, looking to increase minority representation in government and educating people. Their cry “All power to the People” can be taken literally, as the organization wanted to turn the nations power from the rich to be distributed among the full populace. We do not shy away from the troubled ending of the organization nor the organizations regular use of guns. Those issues do not overshadow the philosophic underpinnings of the group, a group whose purpose was to protect Blacks but open to the creation of groups for other races.
WHo is Fred HAmpton?
Born on Aug 30, Fred Hampton was a member of the Black Panther Party in Chicago and one of the visionaries behind the Rainbow Coalition. He took the foundation ideas of the panthers and put them into practice. His focus on education, class, poverty and a reorganization of the economic system pushed the Panther ideology forward.
He united gangs across Chicago in pursuit of a more equitable social system and safety for the underprivileged. He was murdered in his home at 4am on December 4, 1969 when he was only 21 years old. The murder, orchestrated by the FBI and carried out by the Chicago police was supported by a traitor in his midst, O’Neill. More than 99 bullets were fired into the home and none out during the raid, and Hampton and one of his lieutenants were killed. Hampton lay beside his pregnant girlfriend. Both Deb Johnson, that girlfriend and his son Fred Hampton Jr survived.
Hampton death often overshadows the astounding acts of protest he participated in and the thoughtful ideas he presented.
The Black PAnther Party
The Black Panther Party produced a variety of social service programs. Many of these have become stables of American culture.
Free Breakfast for Children: Getting donations from community businesses and staffed by volunteers, the Panther provided breakfast for children across the country.
The Black Panther Paper: This revolutionary document gave voice to issues of social justice, economic redistribution, unheard political voices and cultural perspectives from the Black community. Written, published and distributed by Panther volunteers all before desktop publishing
Free Ambulance Services: When ambulances refused to pick up Black people, members of the panther bought and ambulance with money raised from the community and provided free transportation for those in need regardless of color.
Health Clinics: today we are discussing medicare for all but the Panthers provided basic health care for free ion some of Americas most destitute regions.
Schools: The foundation of Panther ideology was about restructuring power in America, either through a socialist revolution or the attainment of political positions by people of color and to get there, the Panthers provided education that stretched beyond the limited Eurocentric public education system.
Protection for Seniors The panthers began by protecting Black from police harassment and eventually organized protection for seniors of crime ridden or socially disrupted communities.
Bobby and Huey
Black Panther Party founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale students at Merritt College in Oakland, California and bound together an ideology of political power, black pride and Marxism to build the philosophy the underscored the Panthers..
They began their advocacy by creating the Negro History Fact Group, which called on the school to offer classes in black history. Seale was an Engineer and Newton studied law.
Seale and Newton founded the Black Panther for Self-Defense in 1966 after police in San Francisco shot and killed an unarmed black teen named Matthew Johnson.
They together led the group which originally monitored police activity in relationship to Black people.
Both men were targeted by the FBI. Newton was charged and convicted of Manslaughter and Seale was charged with crimes in sevral cities. Both maintained their innocence and pushed fro radical acts to protect and nurture the Black community in America and the world.