African Americans in the 1960s had to face racism and discrimination at an all-time high. Leaders such as Malcolm X shaped the blueprint for the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party was a political organization that defended the African American community from injustices such as police brutality. They only used violence when necessary, stood for those who were oppressed, and pushed for unity in the African American community. Racism in America has lasted for as long as America has been America.
African Americans are no exemption to this fact. Immediately after slavery was put an end to, the government began to oppress African American success. In the early 1900s, the government created the Jim Crow laws. The Jim Crow laws were laws used to enforce racial segregation. Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, and other protestors were famous for standing for African Americans in the United States during this time. The Civil Rights Movement started in the 1950s. African Americans began to stand against those who oppressed them.
Rosa Parks sparked the idea of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Following these events, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was appointed to be the head of the Montgomery Improvement Association and at this time was one of the most influential and important speakers for African Americans. His house was later bombed by people who were against the civil rights movement. They were still able to continue with the boycott in spite of their challenges and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) won the case to desegregate the buses in 1956. Shortly after, people began to have sit-ins in areas marked for only whites at stores around the country. As more and more people began to contribute to the civil rights movement, the repercussion was just as substantial. The Freedom Riders were people who rode the interstate bus and challenged the courts rule over Morgan v. Virginia (1946) and other court rules that discriminated against African Americans. Martin Luther King used non-violent protests to fight back against the racism. In 1963, Martin Luther King was arrested for protesting in the streets of Birmingham, Alabama. While he was in jail, King wrote his famous letter Letter from Birmingham City Jail. President JFK then brought up legislation that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This made the government and oppressors very displeased with JFK.In the 1960s, Malcolm X and many other activists would be the leaders for the culture of the African Americans. Malcolm went against the mainstream civil rights act and encouraged Blacks to defend themselves by any means necessary. He began to start his own group as he would butt heads with the leader of the NOI (Nation of Islam). On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated at a rally in New York. In 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panthers and in the next year they were able to publish a new article. They began to find success in rallies. Bobby Seale read statement of protest and this lead to him and 30 other armed Panther to be arrested. They were getting message out there, regardless of the consequence. It did not take much time for the Panthers message to spread, influencing others outside of California. In October of the same year, Huey Newton (the Defense Minister for the Black Panthers) was arrested for killing an Oakland cop. In retaliation, fellow Panther, Eldridge Cleaver starts a movement called Free Huey. Following those events, former chairmen of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Stokely Carmichael joins the party and eventually becomes the Prime Minister. Carmichael denies whites to enter the Black Panther because he says they only want to have power over those in the party already. Carmichael states that, Whites who come into the black community with ideas of change seem to want to absolve the power structure of its responsibility for what it is doing, and say that change can only come through black unity, which is the worst kind of paternalism. In the following year, J Edgar Hoover and the FBI launch a program called the COINTELPRO. Their purpose was to disband any revolutionary groups in America. J. Edgar Hoover claims that the groups are the biggest threat to the internal security of our country. These groups included the Poor People’s March, Peace and Freedom Party, and the Black Panther Party. In order to issue out this program, the FBI begin to assassinate leaders of the parties and arrest others. They also attempt to split the parties up politically and morally by use of media and propaganda. On April 6th, Bobby Hutton is shot dead at 17 years old during a gun battle that lasted over 90 minutes long. Just two days before, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Meanwhile in Chicago, the Panthers are cleaning up the city. They began to hold breakfast programs, create medical centers, and clean up the streets. Fred Hampton, the leader of that certain group of Panthers, helped orchestrate the good deeds of the Panthers in Chicago. A FBI informant informs the FBI of Fred’s location. On December 4th, 1968 at 4 in the morning, Police raided his apartment shooting him and a fellow Panther, Mark Clark, dead. They also shot his pregnant wife and other panthers in the room with only one being left unharmed. The government saw the Black Panther Party as a serious threat and wanted to stop their success at all costs. The FBI continues to try and split the Panthers up. In 970, Bobby Seale publishes Seize the Time, which is the story of Huey Newton and The Panthers. He did all this while incarcerated. In April of the same year, twenty-one Panthers are trialed for attempting to multiple kill police officers and attempting to bomb various buildings. Many of the Panthers were in jail or were awaiting trial. The government used many different strategies to disband the revolutionary group. They begin forge letters to make the letters seem as if they are coming from Panthers and send them to other Panthers. The FBI went after many Panthers including Eldridge Cleaver. He is persuaded by the FBI (not knowing it is them) that the BPP is attempting to remove him from the party. He got many, many forged letters that went against Newton and told him to gain control of authority. Cleaver also receives letters from outside of the Party. Everything goes left when Newton goes on television for an interview and Cleaver calls him from home in Algiers. Cleaver then speaks on the BPP negatively and goes at the breakfast programs. Shortly after, many members resign from the party. They are no longer satisfied with the party and begin to lose faith. Huey Newton, the founder of the party, no longer wants to lead the party and soon became a drug addict. Many say that this also work of the FBI, but that has yet to be proven. Cleaver returns from the Algiers in 1975. In 1979, the charges against Cleaver are dropped after he pleads guilty and receives five years of probation. Many years later, Huey Newton has a public speech on the Panthers as a whole and what happened to the party itself. On August 22nd, 1989, Huey Newton is shot dead in Oakland over a drug dispute.As we see the downfall of the Black Panther Party, African Americans became more violent in defending themselves. More and more gangs lost their true meaning and began to fight against fellow African Americans. Black on Black crime began to rise around the 90s which was an all-time high. Left without a leader, the party itself separated. Other former party members began to try other things. Cleaver attempted to run for mayor of Oakland but he came up short in the race gaining nearly forty percent of all votes. In the United States now, racism hasn’t yet left. From police brutality to the lynching and hanging of many young African Americans, movements such as #Blacklivesmatter help to bring attention the oppressed people’s problems in United States. Citizens now use many outlets and sources to raise awareness such as forms of art and social media. People like Dick Gregory, Dr.Umar Johnson, and D.L. Hughley constantly speak on the Black community as a whole and how to fight those who oppose them. Colin Kaepernick started a movement by kneeling during the National Anthem to spread awareness on problems in the African American community such as police brutality and injustices done against African Americans in the United States of America.The Black Panther Party made a lot of progress during the years they were active. They defended African Americans for over a decade and a half. They took the right to health by creating medical programs and many other things. They developed the 10-Point Program (which is now referred to as Black and oppressed people). They influenced multiple groups such as the Australian Black Panther Party and gained support from places such as Cuba. They also have had their own success in creating groups such as the Black Liberation Army which was an armed force. As time went on, the party’s success began to gain attention from the FBI. The FBI began to ruin the party from the outside using propaganda and the inside using forged letters. Many Panthers were arrested or murdered. The government stuck fear in the hearts of the African American community by killing off multiple leaders in the Black community. Anyone that stood for something was seen as threat. Still, the Black Panther Party left a mark on society as whole. They stood for those opposed in the United States, gave back, and encouraged others to spread the message. Unity was one of the things they fought for and still is major topic in the revolutionary conversation in the African American community. For the 16 years that they were active, they left the blueprint for Black people to stand for themselves in this country.