Black Panther Party

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"The only good pig is a dead pig."[1]

The Black Panther Party (originally named the The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was a United States-based black supremacist 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.”[2]


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 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 Panthers' 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.

According to the Marxist Internet Archive, in the beginning of 1968, after selling Mao's Red Book to university students in order to buy shotguns, the Party made the book required reading. Meanwhile, the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, began a program called COINTELPRO (counterintelligence program) to break up the spreading unity of revolutionary groups that had begun solidifying through the work and example of the Panthers — the Peace and Freedom Party, Brown Berets, Students for a Democratic Society, the SNCC, SCLC, Poor People's March, Cesar Chavez and others in the farm labor movement, the American Indian Movement, Young Puerto Rican Brothers, the Young Lords and many others.[3]

According to many members of the Calguns Foundation, the armed open carry Black Panthers were one of the reasons that gun control increased in America, especially the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Murder of Judge Haley


In 1970, Marin Count Judge Harold Haley's head was blown off by a sawed-off shotgun in a hostage incident in which members of the Black Panthers attempted to free Angela Davis' lover, Black Panther member George Jackson. Jackson's younger brother took the judge, the prosecutor, and three female jurors as hostages and armed the defendants.[4][5] Davis had purchased several of the firearms used in the attack,[6] including the shotgun used to kill the judge.[7] Davis was also found to have corresponded with Jackson.[8] California considers "all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense... principals in any crime so committed", and a warrant for her arrest was issued. J. Edgar Hoover listed Davis on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List; the third woman to ever be listed[9] behind Ma Barker and Bernardine Dohrn. She was apprehended and John Abt, general counsel of the Communist Party USA, represent her.[10] Davis was eventually acquitted of any role in the plotting and execution of the crime.


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 Grand Governing Council; 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.”[11] 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.


  4. Aptheker, Bettina (1997). The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis. Cornell University Press. 
  5. "Search broadens for Angela Davis", August 17, 1970. 
  6. Angela Davis’ Archive Comes to Harvard. Smithsonian Magazine (16 February 2018).
  7. "A Shotgun That Miss Davis Purchased Is Linked to the Fatal Shooting of Judge", The New York Times, April 18, 1972. 
  8. Freedom on My Mind. Bedford/St. Martin's. ISBN 978-0-312-64884-8. 
  9. Biography. Davis (Angela) Legal Defense Collection, 1970–1972.
  10. (1993) Advocate and Activist: Memoirs of an American Communist Lawyer. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02030-8. 

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