The Black Panthers

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The Black Panthers were a famous and revolutionary organization founded in California in the 1960's, whose purpose was the protection and empowerment of the black race. Although most media attention focused around Martin Luther King Jr. as the leader of the Civil Rights movement during the 1960's, Black Power groups like the Black Panthers, who disagreed with MLK's ideology, also exerted influence, especially in poor black communities. "Founded in October 1967 in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the group had as its original purpose patrolling black neighborhoods to monitor police treatment of blacks" (American Decades 234). The party originally had fewer than one hundred members in Oakland, but it grew to a loosely connected organization with chapters in about thirty-five cities in nineteen states by 1970 (American Decades 234). The Panthers were also famous for their tough image: they were "dressed in striking uniforms of black berets, pants, shoes, and leather jackets, and powder-blue shirts," and were "also heavily armed" (American Decades 234). The unity of the Black Panthers was very strong at its core, but with time it was extinguished by both government intervention and ideological differences between leaders of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.The Black Panthers emerged as a powerful organization because of the strength and unity of their members and the support of the black community. Their co-founders, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, met while they were leftist student activists in Oakland at Merritt Junior College during the early 1960's (Burroughs). The Black Panther Party's official political platform regarded and was designed to improve the lives of poor black people. "The Black Panther Party fed the hungry, protected the weak from racist police, and presented a new paradigm of Black political and social activism" (Burroughs). The Party's survival programs, which included free health clinics, food giveaways, and free...
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