The suppression of Africans in
America was a practice that went on for the 400years of slavery, and beyond.
Africans, even after slavery was abolished, continued to be subjugated,
bullied, killed, lynched, and maltreated in America.
Police brutality was on the rise,
and something had to be done!!!
The black Panthers, which is also
known as the Black Panther Party, was the answer to the many years of brutality
by the white system in America. It was founded as a political organization in
1966, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.
Their major objective was to
challenge police brutality in the African American society. They were uniformed
in black leather jackets and black berets and organized armed citizen patrols
in Oakland and other cities in America.
It is accounted that in their
peak in 1968, the Black Panther Party, had roughly 2,000 members in its ranks.
Unfortunately, their organization faced setbacks which resulted from deadly
shootouts and majorly FBI counterintelligence activities aimed at weakening and
dislodging the strong Black Panther.
History of The Black
The founders of the Black Panther
Party, Huey Newton, and Bobby Seale met while they were students at Merritt
College in Oakland, California, in 1961.
Newton and Seale had both
protested the college’s "Pioneer Day" celebration, which omitted the contributions
and roles of African Americans in settling the American west in the 1800s. They
also formed the Negro History Fact Group, which mandated Merritt College to
offer classes on black history.
After the brutal assassination of
Malcolm X, they both founded the Black Panthers Party. One other tragic event
that led to the creation of the organization was the killing of an unarmed
black teen, Matthew Johnson, by white police in San Francisco.
After the arty was founded, their
first point of duty was self-defense and monitoring the activities of the
police in the black neighborhoods in Oakland and other cities as well.
The Black Panthers was not just
any kind of party or organization. It was not about gangs or hoods for them.
Their goal was to protect the lives of African Americans - a duty that the
white-dominated system was not doing.
So, they created and ran a number
of social programs that were meant to support and uplift the African American
people. They also engaged in political activities. Their vision and activities
made them very popular, and they also got the support of largely African American
communities from cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
And this support made their numbers rise to as much 2,000 members by 1968.
Black Panthers Social
Programs and Political Activities
Forming a political front for
African Americans, at such a point in history, required some form of political
ideology that would match the tyranny of white supremacy and subjugation.
Newton and Seale took a leaf from the Marxist Ideology of Karl Marx and Friedrich
Engels. From the ideology, they drew up a Ten-point philosophical view and
political objectives of the Black Panthers.
Their Ten-point Program demanded
an immediate end to the police brutality faced by African Americans. They also
called for the employment of African Americans, land, housing, and justice for
The Black Panthers were part of
the larger Black Power movement, which promoted black pride, community control
and unification for civil rights in America.
Many circles in America often saw
the Black Panthers as a gang. But this was not true. They only used the means
available to them to stand up to the injustice on their people. The leadership
of the party always portrayed the party as a political party whose major aim
was getting more African Americans elected into political office. Although this
didn’t happen under the black panther, their progress paved the way for African
American politicians in years to come.
In their bid to heal the African
American communities and society at large, they started a number of popular
community social programs. These included free breakfast programs for African
American school children, and free health clinics in 13 African American
neighborhoods across the United States of America.
The White System Fights
Back with Violence and Controversies
To halt and frustrate the
activities of the Black Panthers, the police had to make it a point of duty to
create violent encounters with them.
In 1967, while defending African
Americans and himself, one of the founders, Huey Newton, allegedly killed an
Oakland police officer in a shoot-out. He was later convicted of voluntary
manslaughter in 1968 and was then sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Although
the decision of an appellate later reversed his conviction.
In another incident in 1968, the
editor of the Black Panther's newspaper, Eldridge Cleaver, the editor of the
Black Panther's newspaper, and a 17-year old member, Bobby Hutton, were
involved in a shoot-out with the police. This incident left two police officers
wounded, and led to the death of the 17-year old Hutton.
The Role of FBI and
COINTELPRO in Dismantling the Black Panthers Party/Movement
If there is one thing that is a
fact about "Supremacists ideologies" of any kind, it is that those
who see themselves as superior or subjugate others are always on the alert.
They are always quick to sense a threat to their supremacist ideologies and
The FBI being a body that was
tasked to protect America's interest, saw the Black Panther as a threat to the
white supremacists’ ideals of America at that time. So, they went to work with
one thing in mind: "Destroy the Black Panthers before they grow too big
for us to handle."
The socialist message and black
nationalist focus of the Black Panthers made them the target of a secret FBI
counterintelligence program, called COINTELPRO.
The Black Panthers, in 1969, was
declared a communist organization and an enemy of the United States government,
by the FBI. FBI's director J. Edgar Hoover, in a statement in 1968, referred to
the Black Panthers as "one of the greatest threats to the nation’s
Of course, the Black Panthers
were the threat to national internal security, while white cops went about
happily intimidating and killing unarmed African Americans. What an Irony!!!
The FBI worked round the clock to
dismantle the social structures and programs which were set up by the Black
Panthers. They dismantled the Black Panther's Children Program and other
community social programs that were created and run by the Black Panthers.
What did the children ever do to
them? Oh, a guess they were scared of the knowledge and self-awareness the
Black Panthers were introducing the African American children to. Oppressors
are always scared of knowledge - knowledge of self.
In 1968, in cold blood, Chicago
police gunned down and killed Black Panther Party members, Mark Clark and Fred
Hampton, while they were asleep in their apartment.
It was reported that "About
a hundred bullets were fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle
with members of the Black Panther Party. However, ballistics experts later
determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers’ side."
A federal grand jury later ruled
that the FBI played a significant role in the events leading to the raid and
death of the two Black Panther members.
The many persecutions by the FBI
and their police counterparts led to the death and dismantling of the Black
The Lessons for The
African Continent and Africans All over the World
Africans worldwide must take a
lesson from the ideologies and bravery of the Black Panthers. Although it’s
been decades since they last stood to defend the rights of their people to
justice, their rise, and fall still speaks volume about the suppression of our
people by the powers that be.
They push us to the wall, milk
our lands (in Africa) dry of resources, and then when we fight back, they send
their agents and forces to kill us.
But for how long can we endure
Each time a strong voice rises to
defend the rights of Africans worldwide, he/she is killed and snuffed out. What
this has done to the psychology of many Africans and African-Americans, is that
it creates a SCARE for anyone who ever thinks of rising up to fight for equal
rights and justice. So less and fewer Africans stand up to fight, for fear of death
at the hands of the supremacists. And after many decades, we have ended up with
millions of men and women who suffer in silence and are scared to speak up.
Today in Africa, any movement
that speaks up for the rights of the masses is met with brutal and strict
resistance from those in power. We find it in Nigeria, with Nnamdi Kanu and his
IPOB who are demanding justice and freedom for the Igbo people. We find it in
South Africa, with Julius Malema and his party EFF who are demanding the return
of their local lands by white colonizers who killed them and took their lands.
The spirit of the Black Panthers
is an African spirit and must be emulated across the continent. If we do
not stand up against our oppressors, no one will.