Black History Month: The Revolutionary Minds That Molded and Led The Black Panther Party

February 21, 2011  |  

By Brittany Hutson

Whether you view them as revolutionists that advocated for civil rights by any means necessary or violent opportunists that waged a war with law enforcement, the Black Panther Party had a profound impact on the black power movement and politics of the 1960s and 70s, and have come to embody the most radical display of blacks uniting together for the goals of equality, justice and freedom.

The Black Panther Party was created out of frustration with the nonviolent approach of the civil rights movement. Inspired by the ideas of Malcolm X (later in his life) and Karl Marx, in 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale organized the Black Panther Party for self-defense with the intent of ending all forms of oppression of blacks through the option of revolution.

Known for being openly armed in uniforms of black berets and leather jackets, the Panthers were more than just political rallies and demonstrations. They also sought to address the social ills faced by impoverished black communities through what they called, “survival programs.” This included their most noted program, Free Breakfast for Children, which is estimated to have fed over 10,000 children every day before they went to school within a year of the program’s establishment. Other community initiatives included free medical clinics, lessons on self-defense and first aid, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and classes on politics and economics.

The party adhered to what is known as the ten-point program, which stated:

–We want freedom.

–We want full employment for our people.

–We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our black and oppressed communities.

–We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings.

–We want decent education for our people…

–We want completely free health care for all black and oppressed people

–We want an immediate end to police brutality…

–We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression

–We want freedom for all black and oppressed peple now held in U.S. federal, state, county, city and military prisons and jails…

–We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and people’s community control of modern technology.

When then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover put out the word that the Panthers represented the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country,” the party became one of the main targets of the FBI’s special counter-intelligence program called COINTELPRO, which was used to investigate “radical” national political groups. By 1977, a combination of FBI activities and internal conflict led to the demise of the party.

Here is a look at some of the dynamic and influential members of the Black Panther Party.

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  • Brian Garrett

    Community Bank of the Bay in Oakland supports and has for many years fair housing, education, sports, jobs and the arts here in Oakland. Black History Month is part of our community and heritage. If we can help with new opportunities we welcome your input.

  • james w Ross

    race pride, was just one of the necessities, that our people had to has! shocking education, the movement brought too our people, it shouldm have been called the American "Black panther party" the black and white hero's of that time, was in my sight should be called democrat patriotists, because as we look back upon history: they stood for human rights and within consttitutional laws! it is enbread in us; as Americans! give us full liberty, justice and the opportunity too pursue happiness; or within from us will come rebels with just causes!

  • kimberly

    very nice. reading Assata Shakur's auto biography was life changing. Literally, I 1st read it around 13/14 years old when my squooshy little impressionable mind was taking in soooo much stuff. good and bad. Thankfully, her book helped to set me on a proper path.
    I have nothing but respect for these leaders, we can still learn from them

  • Black Power!!

    Great post! Huey P. Newton and The Black Panther Party are so iconic, and amazing, to me, they were like the black superheroes of the ghetto. I wish I could have been apart of this movement but I was born several decades too late. 🙁

  • ConnecticutsOwn

    Funny how my comment on a positive thread like this has been “Awaiting Moderation” since 1:30 …….Bet if my comment was about big botty chicks or some race bashing foolery my comment would have been posted!!!!!! SMH

    We Have Got To Do Better

  • ConnecticutsOwn

    “I do not expect the white media to create positive black male images”

    “My fear was not of death itself, but a death without meaning.”

    “The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution.”

    All my most loved Huey Newton quotes….

    I love my black sisters and brother, even the ones who dis like us!!!!

    Peace Love and Happiness

  • JYM

    We have more resources to evoke the change that the BPP fought so hard for..yet we continue to struggle as a people. Instead of making advances we have fallen so far behind. Perhaps the next generation will find their voice and work towards unifying our race and continuing the fight the BPP began.

  • JYM

    Reflecting on our past, and our people who sacrificed so much to bring awareness of the oppression of black people..who were unified and were vocal about our rights. One can only be saddened that today’s generation could care less.

    • StuckInDaMatrix

      Yes today's generation is so far gone. Truly sad times we live in. The modern black is uneducated, racially insecure, unaware and misled. I'm actually fearful for the future

  • MyReason

    And all of my comments are “awaiting moderation”…

  • MyReason

    Fred Hampton was always my favorite and his demise one of the most tragic. Too quick to find flaws in their philosophies, poeple forget how young they all were. I’m surprised Elaine Brown isn’t mentioned here-she lead the party during Huey’s exile and wrote their revolutions songs(the most touching for Bobby Hutton). Assata autobio “Assata” is the most insightful and her poetry is very noteworthy…its warns againt modern black complacency and losing sight of who our real enemy is-she hasn’t lost any of her militance. I thank them all for their contribution and continued work in our struggle for equality and justice.

  • HOT G.R.I.T.S

    Its so said that our people don't even care to comment on this post. Why is that yall rather comment if some body's "cakes are fake" or who look more banging at an event etc. Stop with the Fu#@ry my people. Our people fought for us to be able to be considered "equal" and yet were not even thankful enough to look, read and post. GTFOH. Our people these days, smh, so f–in far gone.