My passion for the black community is something I can not put in to words. Not because black people are superior but because as a black women, I realize our beauty, our diversity within our own communities, our brains, our creativity, our ability to love and forgive, our resourcefulness or ability to rejuvenate with little resource, our ability to give life and nurture, our ability to create and communicate across barriers……………we are awesomely dynamic on every level and much of that is seen in the day to day creations that many people across the world enjoy. It’s hard not to love being black even though history and others outside of the black community have done a number on us and robbed us of some of that joy we should feel always. I’m not anti anything. I’m just pro black.
With the recent discussion that was going on surrounding Beyonce’s performance during the Superbowl, I decided to do a little research. I always joke that I was a member of the Black Panther party in my former life, but in all honesty I don’t know as much about them as I should. As of late, they’ve been compared to the KKK. What a disrespect. The KKK was an organization formed specifically to destroy, belittle and kill the communities that were different from theirs. Keeping us afraid to stand up for ourselves or live where we wanted. Vote or go to schools we wanted to. It instilled fear and was used to keep Negroes in their places. That’s not why the Black Panthers were established. On the contrary!
Founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the Black Panther party started in Oakland California. Though the uprising of a movement such as this coming from a time where blacks were still fighting for equality and inclusion, they were on a clear mission and extremely organized! They had quickly grown to over 5000 members across 45 different branches across the country. They published a weekly paper! (BLACK MEDIA) They had community service projects and they did a lot of great things that are rarely ever spoken about. Some of those things were programs like free breakfast for children, health clinics and shoes for children. They fed over 10,000 children before school every morning!! They wanted to provide the community with things they lacked. That goes to show that they understood the basic fundamentals of building up your community from within. Providing your people with what they needed without depending on outside sources. They were aware of the disparity blacks faced and concerned themselves with economic progress.
One of the first things the Panther’s did in Oakland California (1966) was protest to maintain the right to carry firearms in public places. If I’m not mistaken, that’s a constitutional situation. Not a color situation. This fight they were fighting was because they wanted all of us to have a right to defend ourselves if the need arose. As much as the lack of respect for our rights as blacks is displayed in 2016, imagine what we went through in the 1960s. Imagine how we were treated and things we were charged with so we could be arrested during this time period. Someone had to fight for the basic rights we needed to have to survive.
What saddens me about the situation is how the FBI handled the movement started by the party. Yes their approach was more radical than the peaceful way that Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to do things and yes they took more of a non peaceful approach that was supported by Malcolm X. This was an evolution of the Party because as they began to come under attack and have to defend themselves even more, attitudes became more radical. But under no circumstances did they deserve to be terrorized by the United States Government like they were to instill fear and have the party disband. They murdered and injured many during the late 1960s. They wanted the world to feel that the group was a threat to national safety. If they were using the word terrorist as much as they do now I’m sure the Panthers would have been on the FBI most wanted list with that label. They burned down meeting places and shot down unarmed members. No remorse or regret because they put this mission under the guise of protecting the people. They are definitely amongst the biggest reasons that the party wasn’t able to sustain itself. Something that not only benefited blacks but allowed some communities to have resources they didn’t otherwise have.
There are a thousand documents and papers out here now that are giving great detail on the party and I think it’s a great idea to get out here and find them. Know the history. Know what they did and not just what people tell you they did. Even I didn’t know some of the great things they did because they never get their rightful credit. I am truly proud to say we had an organization like this and even today we have so many groups gathered to still fight for the rights that should be standard in this day and time. It may not be called the Black Panther Party Movement but the purpose is the same. Community. Economic Wellness. Self Defense. We still fight for these things today and we should have as much passion as they had. Many groups were spun off from the this movement.
Task: Research one of the spinoff groups and share it! The Peace and Freedom Party, Brown Berets, Students for a Democratic Society, the SNCC, SCLC, Poor People's March, Cesar Chavez and others in the farm labor movement, the American Indian Movement, Young Puerto Rican Brothers, the Young Lords others!
Until Next Time Lovies!