Truth About Black Panther Party And How It Shaped Black History

by Ghost writers

The Black Panther Party, originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence, was a Marxist-Leninist Black Power political organization. Despite its small origins, founded by college students Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in 1966 in California, the Party grew massively, finding its way to international territories in Britain Algeria, and other European and African countries.

Present in American society for more than 20 years, the Party gave way to substantial political change for black Americans. But most people today fail to understand how revolutionary the beliefs of the Black Panther Party were at the time of the movement, and how influential the group was at its peak.

The empowerment of black kids

Panthers serving children free breakfast, Sacred Heart Church, San Francisco
Photo by Ducho Dennis, Courtesy It’s About Time Archive

One of the primary goals of the Blank Panther Party was to educate and nurture young black Americans, especially those in disenfranchised communities. Studies came out saying that children who didn’t have a good breakfast in the morning were less attentive in school, less inclined to do well, and suffered from fatigue. So, the Party spent time in poor neighborhoods cooking breakfast for poor kids every morning before school.

The Party served around 20,000 meals a week, and the scheme is often considered the most successful of the BPP’s survival programs. Alongside this, the Party established schools. Educational programs that developed into school curricula included black history and culture classes.

Addressing the health concerns in the community

The Black Panther Party set up a national screening program for sickle cell disease after it became the disease that primarily affected clear African Americans. There was a rapid screening test for sickle cell anemia based on a simple finger stick that could diagnose someone with the disease, but due to lack of funding and public attention, this was being ignored. The BBP saw the government’s failure to act and set up a national screening program for sickle cell disease.

Dispelling myths

Black Panther members demonstrating in 1969, after 21 Panthers were charged with plotting to blow up several sites in New York City. They were later acquitted. Photograph: Jack Manning/Getty Images

The Black Panther Party had an advanced understanding of the media. They were able to legitimize their movement as a voice of protest. The BPP began selling newspapers, which became vital to the Party’s survival and helped sustain it. Each copy sold for 25 cents, half of which went to printing costs, and a half to the different branches of the group funding survival programs.

The Black Panther Intercommunal News Service voiced the aims and philosophies of the Party, outlining their 10-point plan and giving access to people the Panthers could not physically reach. They also used the paper to display upcoming artwork around black resilience.

The power of the black woman

Black Panther Party communications secretary Kathleen Cleaver, center, and Party co-founder Bobby Seale, right.

Women played a vital role in propelling the Black Panther Party. By the 1970s, key figures such as Kathleen Cleaver and Angela Davis took on leadership roles, helping the party address the way it saw gender. In this new direction, the BPP was able to shape and affirm the perception of black beauty.

Black men and women across America began unapologetically supporting their afros. And the BPP uniform became of berets, and black leather jackets became a symbol of black urbanism, which contrasted the strict military uniform of police, political leaders, and Vietnam war soldiers.

Trying to send a message to all black people

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
The Black Panthers march in protest of the trial of co-founder Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California.

The Black Panthers’ central guiding principle was an “undying love for the people.” The goal of the Black Panther Party was to serve the people in a way that law enforcement and political leaders at the time didn’t. The Panthers were strategic in their approach, essentially giving the police a taste of their own medicine by monitoring them and ensuring they were doing their jobs properly. The work of the BPP didn’t stop with black Americans.

The Party was against all oppression. In their 10-point program, BPP demanded rights and treatments for all people of color and all oppressed communities. The Party welcomed alliances with white activists, such as the Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen, because they believed change required the efforts of many groups across racial lines.

The consequences of their efforts

It was at this point that they became a threat to political power. The movement’s growing popularity across state lines and racial groups scared political leaders and the police. The FBI created a secret operation to take down the BPP. They went to extensive lengths to discredit the Party using informants and spreading misinformation. The only way to destroy a popular movement was through corruption and violence, exactly what the FBI did. This work left a significant strain on the reputation of the Black Panther Party.

The fight continues

It’s been a challenging narrative to fight, but slowly the actual Black Panther Party beliefs and aims are coming to light again. With the help of documentaries and films like Judas and the Black Messiah, Seberg, people learn the truth about the people who participated in the movement and what they stood for.

All in all….

Some may say history is repeating itself with the development of the Black Lives Matter movement. Regarded as one of the most influential movements of all time, Black Lives Matter echoes the demands of the Black Panther Party.

Sadly, they are fighting for the same battles their predecessors did in the 70s and 80s. Fortunately, today’s technological developments give people the opportunity to hold those in power accountable for their actions. Younger generations actively challenge racial stereotypes, and institutional racism still presents with some success.

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