In the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement in the United States is remembered for the demonstrations and attempts at peaceful protests against racism and segregationist policies.
At the forefront of this movement were Dr. Martin Luther King and his approach to effect real change through non-violent protests. But there were many other organizations that strived to achieve the same goals. They included the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and King’s own Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to name a few. But one group that promoted a different, more militant, path was the Black Panthers.
The Black Panthers were founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The group was created as a reaction to the assassination of Malcolm X and the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in San Francisco.
In the beginning, the Black Panthers were known for organizing police monitoring activities in Oakland, CA and other cities. They also believed in the arming of citizens for self protection.
The philosophy of the Black Panthers drew its influence from Marxist ideology. This was reflected in their “Black Panther Party for Self Defense Ten-Point Program.” The Program contained ten demands and ten beliefs. What are presented here are the ten demands in full:
- We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
- We want full employment for our people.
- We want an end to the robbery by the white men of our Black Community.
- We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
- We want 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.
- We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
- We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.
- We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
- 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.
- We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.
As part of the Program, the Panthers promoted several social programs which were not as well known. One example was the creation of several free health clinics within African-American communities across the United States.
However, due to several internal controversies, shootouts with police, and heavy investigations by the FBI as a “communist organization,” the Panthers were gradually worn down and were officially dissolved in 1982.
Black Panthers. History.com (n.d.). Retrieved on December 11, 2017 from http://www.history.com/topics/black-panthers.
Black Panther Party for Self Defense Ten Point Program. University of Texas El Paso (n.d.). Retrieved on December 11, 2017 from https://faculty.utep.edu/LinkClick.aspx?link=BPP_10Pts.pdf&tabid=31574&mid=166322.