Huey Newton and the Black Panthers

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Huey Newton’s Imprisonment and the Fall of the Black Panthers

How did Huey P. Newton’s imprisonment in 1968 affect the decline in effectiveness and eventual end of the Black Panther Party?

During Huey P. Newton’s imprisonment in 1968, many people rushed to join the black panther party, this influx of fresh members along with the absence of the main founder of the party created a lack of discipline within the party and eventually lead to fragmentation within the party; once Newton was released, his new found fame and fear along with heightened expectations of him crippled his effectiveness as a leader and led to infighting and a loss of comradery within the party.

March 30, 20xx
IB History of the Americas

A. Plan of Investigation

The Black Panther Party was an African American Nationalist group, founded by Huey Newton in 1966, contributed to protecting African Americans from police brutality and to improve the quality of life within the African American community. In 1968, Huey Newton was convicted for the voluntary manslaughter of an Oakland Police officer and sentenced to prison; the conviction was eventually repealed in late 1970. In the 1970s, the Party was plagued with schisms, infighting, and legal issues which eventually led to the dissolve of the Black Panther Party in 1982. However, how did Newton’s imprisonment affect the decline of the Black Panther Party? The purpose of this investigation is to analyze the changes in the Black Panther Party that resulted from Newton’s jail time. This investigation will mainly focus on the effect of Huey Newton post prison activities and the effect of Newton’s imprisonment on the rest of the party. This investigation will not, however, elaborate on COINTELPRO’s attempts to destroy the party or the resignation of Elaine Brown from the party. This investigation draws from two primary sources. The first is from a leader of the Black Panther Party, David Hilliard’s autobiography. The second is from Huey P. Newton’s autobiography, the founder of the Black Panther Party.

B. Source Evaluations
Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul on Ice. Cambridge: Delta, 1978
Eldridge Cleaver, in his autobiography, talks about his activities in the party then eventually explains his reasons for leaving the party and his time spent in exile in Algeria. The book is created through a series of essays which also explain his philosophical ideas and political ideologies. In his essay explaining his differences with the Black Panther Party, and more specifically, Huey Newton, he explains that after Huey Newton was released from prison, his revolutionary spirit had gone away, that he was only interested in reforming the systems already put in place. Eldridge Cleaver was a high ranking member of the Black Panther Party who joined because he was in favor of the panther’s more militant aspects. He was kicked out from the party in 1969, only a year after Huey Newton’s release. After his fallout with the party, he spent time as a political exile in Algeria, aiding the citizens their along with other political exiles. Eventually, Cleaver would return to the United States in 1975, and in the late 80s, he went on to seek, but not win, the republican nomination in United State senate seat. The purpose for Cleaver in writing Soul on Ice was to express his ideas about different issues in the U.S., and to clarify the controversy over him leaving the Black Panther Party. Hilliard, David, and Lewis Cole. This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1993. This book is an account of David Hilliard’s activities during his time with the Black Panther Party as written by David Hilliard himself, the man who helped lead the party during Huey Newton’s absence. The book particularly speaks about Hilliard and Newton’s relationship along with Hilliard’s struggle with his new responsibilities as one of the party’s leaders. Particularly...
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