Black Power and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense
In the nineteen fifties black communities across the United States were suffering under the heavy burden of poverty. Unemployment, incarceration, drug use and numerous other conditions of poverty were all significantly more prevalent amongst blacks then whites. At the same time blacks across the country were struggling against the oppression of general racial discrimination and Jim Crow segregation in the south. From this turmoil a multitude of black rights movements were created to struggle for equality and better living conditions for blacks. On the forefront of this undertaking was the non-violent Civil Rights Movement led by Baptist Minister Martin Luther King Jr. and the “by any means necessary” Nation of Islam represented by Malcolm X. By nineteen sixty eight however, the Nation of Islam had fallen into disarray with the separation of Malcolm X from the group and his subsequent assassination. The Civil Rights Movement had been very successful in forcing racial integration in the south but Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated before he could really direct the movement towards a more anti-poverty platform. During this period a new vanguard party, The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was quickly growing out of California. The party was radical because it was formed around the new idea of black power, which
Advocated the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests and secure black autonomy. (Hanes, 25) This was a revolutionary black social movement because it endeavored to combat the problems in the black communities as an independent black collective instead of relying on the government or white majority for help. By arming blacks, establishing free social programs and involving lower class blacks The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was able to directly improve and empower black communities across the United States.
In two short years after is founding The Black Panther Party for Self Defense grew into a national organization with substantial social influence amongst blacks all over the country. In October of 1968, The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was founded in Oakland, California as a community based organization committed to directly improving the lives of blacks through autonomist black action. (Hanes, 33) The founders of the party, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, authored a ten point doctrine which marked the beginning of the party and served as the groups manifesto throughout its existence.
1: We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our black and
2: We want full employment for our people.
3: We want an end to the robbery by the capitalist of our black community.
4: We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings.
5: We want decent education for our people that exposes the true nature of this
decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history
and our role in the present-day society.
6: We want all black men to be exempt from Military Service.
7: We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people,
other people of color, all oppressed people inside the United States. 8: We want freedom for all black men held in Federal, State, County and City prisons and jails.
9: We want all black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their black communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States. 10: We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace.
Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale defined freedom in this manifesto as blacks determining their own destinies in their own communities by fully controlling all their institutions. Black Panthers advocated that the only way any of their progressive goals would become reality is if blacks created them in their own...
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