Black Panthers

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Black Panthers,

U.S. African-American militant party, founded (1966) in Oakland, Calif., by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Originally aimed at armed self-defense against the local police, the party grew to espouse violent revolution as the only means of achieving black liberation. The Black Panthers called on African Americans to arm themselves for the liberation struggle. In the late 1960s party members became involved in a series of violent confrontations with the police (resulting in deaths on both sides) and in a series of court cases, some resulting from direct shoot-outs with the police and some from independent charges.

Among the most notable of the trials was that of Huey Newton for killing a policeman in 1967, which resulted in three mistrials, the last in 1971. Bobby Seale, one of the "Chicago Eight" convicted of conspiracy to violently disrupt the Democratic National Convention of 1968 (later overturned), was a codefendant in a Connecticut case charging murder of an alleged informer on the party. He was acquitted in 1971. A third major trial was of 13 Panthers in New York City accused of conspiring to bomb public places. They were also acquitted in 1971. The results of these trials were taken by many observers as confirmation of their suspicions that the Black Panthers were being subjected to extreme police harassment. Another incident that supported this view was the killing in a raid by Chicago police of Illinois party leader Fred Hampton and another Panther in 1969; review of this incident revealed that the two had been shot in their beds without any provocation.

While controversy raged over the civil liberties issue, the Panthers themselves were riven with internal disputes. A major split took place, with Newton and Seale (who in 1972 announced their intention of abandoning violent methods) on the one side and Eldridge CleaverCleaver, Eldridge
(Leroy Eldridge Cleaver), 1935–98, African-American social activist, b. Wabbaseka, Ark. Growing up in Los Angeles, he spent much of 1954–66 in prison for various crimes including rape.
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 (formerly the chief publicist for the party, who continued to preach violent revolution) on the other. Cleaver headed the so-called international headquarters of the party (until 1973) in Algeria. In 1974 both Seale and Newton left the party; the former resigned, and the latter fled to Cuba to avoid drug charges. During the late 1970s the party gradually lost most of its influence, ceasing to be an important force within the black community. The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, founded in Dallas, Tex., in 1989, is not related to the old group.


See H. Pearson, The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America (1994); J. Bloom and W. E. Martin, Jr., Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (2013).

Black Panthers

militant black revolutionists and civil-rightists. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 46]
References in periodicals archive ?
Newton Gun Club, or the People's New Black Panther Party advocate for the specific self-determination of what's called the "Black Belt" in order for those states to become a new sovereign country?
Beyond their trademark black berets, leather jackets and fierce armed demeanor, the Black Panther Party was also known for innovative social and political activism.
I went back to Harlem and joined the Black Panther Party.
In 1968, still in my teens, I took a late plane from Philadelphia to Oakland, California to join the Black Panther Party.
Ward Churchill is the author, with Jim Vander Wall, of "Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement" (South End Press, 1968).
The Black Panther Party was established in response to the violence and oppression of the black community.
Under the veneer of Black Nationalism and civil rights, the Black Panther Party likewise advocated against capitalism and promoted Marxism-Leninism.
Thus, African American veterans of World War II evinced a "martial manhood" that laid the groundwork for the early reformist stage of the movement; young civil rights workers in the early 1960s adhered to a "militant, nonviolent manhood" that allowed them to sustain their activism in the face of segregationist violence; hard-line segregationists used the rhetoric of honor and manhood to mobilize white Southerners to resist integration; Malcolm X's "self-styled image of militant manhood" influenced younger men who would turn to Black Power; and the Black Panther Party espoused a "revolutionary masculinity" that placed a premium on violently challenging "The Man.
As a New York Times reporter, he refused to reveal the results of his reporting on the Black Panther Party to the FBI and the Nixon Administration.
NEWTON FOUNDATION David Hilliard, former chief of staff of the Black Panther Party, is cofounder of the foundation (www.
An early honorary member of the Black Panther Party, she represented Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, and others, and helped start the Panther newspaper.
He was a Black Muslim, an associate of the key leaders of the Black Panther Party (Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver), an anti-Vietnam War protester (he went into exile in Canada, and later in Central America, rather than be drafted into the United States Army), and an outspoken critic of American economic, social, and cultural discrimination of African Americans at home, and of Third World peoples abroad.