The Black Panther Party for Self Defense - Huey Newton & Bobby Seale!

Above are the co-founders of the Black Panther Party, Chairman Bobby Seale (left) and Minister of Defense Huey Newton (right). They are standing in front of the first office for the Black Panther Party, The Oakland Povery Center in Oakland, California in 1966

Overview:The Black Panther Party was founded in October, 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The goal of the party was to fight to establish revolutionary socialism (Socialist tendencies that present the need for fundamental social change through revolution) through large amounts of organization and community based programs. The purpose of the group was influenced by Malcom X, who believed in standing up for oneself and fighting for equality among oppressed minorities. They embraced the theory of dialectical materialism, which is the way of understanding reality through thoughts, emotions, or the material world. They united with various groups around the area, involving minorities and white revolutionary groups.
The Black Panther Party was different than other organizations in that they were known as a militant group, rather than a non-violent group. The party used aggressive tactics, and were not afraid to become violent in times where they felt it was necessary to prove their point. They had a "no mercy" attitude and dressed in that fashion as well, displaying their weapons in public while wearing black barrets and black leather jackets. They preached for a "revolutionary" war and they believed that the non-violent campaign of Martin Luther King had failed miserably.
The Black Panther Party developed a newspaper called The Black Panther. The first issue came out on April 27, 1967, and it spread the ideas, events, and success of The Black Panther Party. The party participated in major events (some violent) to express their point of view on problems they faced in society. The Black Panther Party met its demise in the late 1970's.

Some Key Members:Bobby Seale- Chairman, co-founder
Huey Newton- Minister of Defense, co-founder
Mumia Abu-Jama- Lieutenant Minister of Information
Richard Aoki- Field Marshall
Bobby Rush- Deputy Minister of Defense
Aaron Dixon- Community Activist

The main goals of the platform were represented with the words, "we want" followed by their demands:
1. Freedom and Self-determination
2. Full employment for all Black people
3 Restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people
4. Decent housing
5. Education to give Black people knowledge of self and expose the true history of American society
6. Exemption from military service for all Black men who should not be forced to defend a racist government
7. An immediate end to police brutality
8. Release from prison for all Black people because they have not received a fair and impartial trial
9. All Black people who are brought to trial to be tried by a jury of their peers from the Black community
10. Land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. As a major political objective, a United Nations supervised plebiscite for Black Americans to determine their will as to their national destiny.

Major Events:
May 1967: The party started to get noticed when they started to protest a bill to outlaw the ability to carry loaded weapons in public. They marched on the California state capital carrying loaded guns and wearing the signature outfits of the party: black leather jackets and black berets. Bobby Seale and 30 other participants were arrested.
February 1968: The "Free Huey" movement began and allowed the Black Panther Party to expand nationally. The campaign saved Huey Newton from suffering the death penalty.
September 1968-1970: Huey Newton was convicted to voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison. The conviction was appealed and overturned in 1970 due to procedural errors.
December 1969: Two of the party's leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed in a police raid. By the end of the decade, 28 of the party's members had been killed and many others were sent to jail or forced to leave the United States in order to avoid being arrested.
1974: Seale resigns from the party and Newton fled to Cuba to avoid criminal charges for drug use.
End of the 1970s: The party was weak due to the lack of original leaders, external attacks, legal problems, and internal divisions, so the Black Panther Party began to disassemble.

Logo for the Black Panther Party

Bobby Seale speaks about the purpose and points of the Black Panther Party.

Misiroglu, Gina Renée. "Black Panthers." American Countercultures: an Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in U.S. History. Armonk, N.Y.: Sharpe Reference, 2009.