The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense: Huey P. Newton an Bobby Seale


8April03


History 204


In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent methods of attempting to attain change for american Blacks through leadership. Nonviolence had achieved success with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Segregation and the barriers set up for american Blacks to keep them from voting were seemingly easier to overcome than were the issues of inferior public services such as schooling and prejudice. Many american Blacks decided by the middle of the 1960\'s that the civil rights movement as headed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had not altered their lives to the extent of acceptable living. They felt that the focus should be placed more on their equality socially and economically than on their equality politically. As a result, american Blacks began to gravitate towards a more direct form of action to receive a more direct form of change quicker than it had come about through Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.\'s methods.


Black militancy emerged in the middle and late 1960\'s. Black leaders like Floyd McKissick. The national director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Stokely Carmichael, the elected chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SNLC) were both leaders who preached the doctrine of Black Power. Black Power was more than just a fad. It was an ideal that appealed to many American Blacks that were tired of waiting for the gradual effects of nonviolent practices to occur. It encouraged american Blacks to build themselves up by establishing power bases, solidifying Black communities into political blocs. This was an attempt to force improvement of the treatment of american Blacks. The doctrine required american Black leaders to unify and lead, in a sense, become directly responsible to their followers. A very important digression from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.\'s nonviolent teachings in the Black Power doctrine was the calling for american Blacks to meet offensive violence with defensive violence. They believed that Americans would respect american Blacks standing with guns in their hands to defend themselves rather than kneeling passively as the oppressed.


In October of 1966, The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense was founded in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale while they were both student activists at Merritt Junior College. Under the influence of Malcolm X, the nationalist struggles in the Third World, and revolutionaries such as Fidel Castro, and Mao Tse Tong, their major goal in founding The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense was to protect the american Black community from the treatment by White police actions which were deemed brutal. The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense differed from other groups with its message of "revolutionary intercommunalism." This was essentially a socialist way of approaching issues within a community, where all shared in the responsibility of building the community. During the mid 1960\'s, The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense called for american Blacks to take control of their high unemployment, bad housing, police brutality, poor health care, inferior public schooling system and oppressive police forces. During the late 1960\'s, The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense replaced the Black Muslims as the most feared and publicized american Black extremist group. They encouraged the use of weapons for both self ‑ defense and for self ‑ offense against people that were believed to be oppressing them. While many believed that The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense instilled in american Blacks a sense of pride that was very much needed, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) called them the "most dangerous and violence prone of all extremist groups" after FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover assigned a special task force to monitor the party\'s actions after he determined they were too radical. However, Seale says of The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense: "People still believe we are what the FBI tried to paint us as: a black, militant hate group." The Black Panther Party for Self ‑ Defense was a group that favored violent revolution, if necessary, to bring about changes that they deemed mandatory to the equal treatment of american Blacks. In