Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party (originally named the The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was a United States-based militant organization that operated from 1966 to 1971. The Panthers had thousands of members and spread across several major cities. In 1969, then-director of the Federal Bureau of Intelligence, J. Edgar Hoover, said, "The Black Panthers are the greatest threat to the internal security of America.”
The Party was organized in 1966 by two Oakland college students, Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale, to fight the American government as a "racist [and] capitalist state". The group criticized in particular the American economic structure, calling for the government to change to a more communistic economy. Contrary to activists such as Martin Luther King, the Black Panthers called for violent action against racism. After King's assassination in 1968, the group began to arm its members as well as provide them with military training.
The Black Panthers marched into the California state capital fully armed, leading to the arrest of some group members. Because of the visible militancy of the the group, they often faced police pressure. A number of clashes in the Chicago area left members of the Panthers and police officers either killed or wounded. A raid on the Panther's headquarters in Chicago led to the death of Fred Hampton, the leader of the Chicago chapter, who was killed and others wounded when the police opened fire.
The FBI, under the leadership of of J. Edgar Hoover carried out a program of counter-intelligence known as COINTELPRO. Hoover's agents used false letters and undercover agents to create a divide in the BPP's leadership.
The Black Panther Party carried out many organizational initiatives along with arming members and rioting. They formed links with organizations such as the Peace and Freedom Party, the Poor People's March, the Brown Berets, Cesar Chavez and with other farm labor union movements; the American Indian Movement; and the Young Puerto Rican Brothers.
Seales claimed that the reasons for the joining of other coalitions was because the organization was for "all power to all the people, not just black power.” They also worked with the Preventive Medical Health Care Clinics and the Breakfast for Children Program, which gave the militant group good publicity.
In 1968, two years after the Black Panthers' founding, the organization counted four hundred members, mainly from the poor parts of Oakland. When Martin Luther King died, membership grew to five thousand with over 45 chapters and branches. The organization also published a newspaper which by 1969 circulated to over 250,000 subscribers.
- Black Panther Newspaper Collection. Retrieved from Maoist International Movement website, March 16, 2010.