Right now, most of the year of 2016 has passed. 2016 has been a year of both accomplishments and sorrows. It has been a year of inspirational events and profound tragedies. These times remind all of us of how sacrosanct and precious life is and how the work for justice continues in the globe. Natalie Cole taught us about grace and human compassion. Muhammad Ali taught us about strength and courage. A lot of our heroes and legends are passing away. Yet, we are clear that our young generation will continue to advance excellence, perseverance, and altruism. Many of us are polymath and desire no recrudescence of injustice, but the establishment of liberty for all.
Colin Kaepernick represents a new day. Many athletes are not following the status quo and just receive a paycheck to show the company line. Colin is going out and speaking up against police brutality and in favor of justice for black people. He also given one million dollars to various charities, which shows his activism in action. I think that he is doing what is necessary in order for real change to come in American society. A judge of character is not during times of comfort, but during times of controversy. During this time, Colin has shown his character as being strong and courageous. The haters don't understand his words or they choose to believe in the myth of American infallibility. I certain respect Kaepernick's actions. The pledge was created by Francis Scott Key. Not only was he was a racist, but he was a slave owner. Francis believed that black people were inferior, which is a lie. Also, Tommie Smith and other black people protested injustice in their own heroic ways too. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf's refusal to stand for the national anthem too. Kaepernick has inspired other NFL athletes to refuse to stand for the national anthem too.
Police terrorism is a direct threat against black people. We know that capitalist exploitation contributes to poverty, police injustices, and other forms of corruption in the world. African Americans, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers. Therefore, there is no real solution to this problem unless we address police terrorism. An innocent black person being killed by the police is a tragedy and an injustice. A lot of blame deals with the police institution that perpetrates the Blue Wall of Silence, bad laws, and immunity among crooked cops in many cases. We know that respectability politics doesn't work and we know that the "you're on your own" philosophy doesn't work since solidarity is important to advance. Community organization and working class unity are better than selfish individualism. We need to do for our community and do for our people beyond just doing something for our own benefit personally. This is a situation that must be discussed and we won't back down.
Of course, many far right conservatives don't like BLM since they don't care about promoting universal health care, environmental protections (the Flint water crisis was caused by pollution and anti-regulatory policies against a mostly black population), a living wage (like a $15 federal minimum wage that will help millions of black people who are suffering poverty. Even cutting corporate welfare and investments in infrastructure can create jobs and improve lives. Far right people in many cases abhor even increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has proven to decrease poverty in America), universal educational opportunities, anti-imperialism, African Diasporic unity, ending the War on Drugs (and replacing it with alternatives), and other policies that are real solutions. Far right conservatives (many of them blame poor black people by saying getting up by your own bootstraps while ignoring how many poor people work hard every day in a society filled with structural economic injustices. They don't care about black people. Many far right people won't fight misogynoir & other forms of bigotry because of obvious reasons) are more concerned with promoting some archaic ideology and the worship of certain rules (like the worship of free markets and isolation in the world) instead of respecting just laws, love, mercy, and justice. These haters omit that progressives were key in fighting for workers rights, civil rights, environmental justice, Social Security, food safety standards, Medicare, the Tennessee Valley Project, women having the right to vote, bank deposit insurance, voting rights, 40 hour work week, etc. We did these things not by blaming poor people collectively or talking about loving Trump (who is a bigot and a sexist who disrespected a Gold Star family. I will never vote for Trump). We got these things by fighting for what is right. Too many people are ashamed of standing up. We are not.
In the final analysis, we not only need the development of more enterprises and infrastructure in our communities. We need economic justice and racial justice as advocated by Fannie Lou Hamer, Dr. King, Malcolm X (who questioned and criticized capitalism outright in 1965. I have the quote of him saying it. Malcolm X also supported Pan-African unity which we must always support), Fred Hampton, Ella Baker, and our other heroes. I will never back down from my core convictions. Therefore, our eyes are on the prize.
Black Panthers Party Part 2
The legacy of the Black Panther Party is diverse. Today, we live in a society filled with neoliberal economic globalization (in essence makes a reality which is similar to socialism for the rich while capitalism for the poor), patriarchy, terrorism, and other 21st century realities. Therefore, we look back in order to make a better present and future for all. By the 1970’s, the Black Panthers and America entered a new era of history. We see the rise of the Nixon administration. The Nixon administration with J. Edgar Hoover continued policies (via COINTELPRO, etc.) of repressing the Black Panthers, the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the labor movement, the Native American movement, etc. The Black Panther Party was very clear in its opposition to capitalism and desiring to create socialism for the human race. By 1970, the Black Panthers experienced massive murder and repression by the federal government. 28 Black Panthers were murdered. Hundreds of others were placed into jail. Albert Woodfox was a Panther who was recently released from prison. From May of 1967 to December 1969 alone, the Black Panther Party was hit with 768 arrests and almost $5 million bail bonds. In 1969-1970, Black Panthers traveled across the globe in order to get support for their cause. Some traveled into Scandinavian nations like Sweden and Norway and these nations had social democratic policies. In those nations, left wing activists organized a tour for Bobby Seale and Masai Hewitt in 1969. At each destination along the tour, the Panthers talked about their goals and the "Free Huey!" campaign. Seale and Hewitt made a stop in Germany as well, gaining support for the "Free Huey!" campaign. From 1968 to 1971, the Black Panther Party focused heavily on a revolutionary internationalism that respected the liberation struggles of nations against Western imperialism like Algeria, Vietnam, etc. They focused on class analytical issues. Many leftist groups allied with the Panthers in legal aid, organizing anti-police brutality rallies, promoting anti-war events, and other events. Throughout the 1970’s and the 1980’s, many Black Panthers organized ambulance services, health care programs, political programs, educational schools for the youth, Free Breakfast for Children programs, assistance to prisoners, and other progressive efforts to help the community.
Women leadership in the Black Panthers grew and the female BPP leaders believed in equality and womanism (or that justice for black women must come by confronting both racism and sexism at the same time). It would be in August 1970 that Huey P. Newton would be released from prison. Newton would continue to make great analysis of the political systems of the world and speak great words. Also, he would make mistakes in his life. Many Panthers traveled into North Vietnam, North Korea, and China to oppose American imperialism. Eldridge Cleaver (who became a Republican reactionary and followed the Mormon religion) told Black GIS to support liberation by not supporting the Vietnam War. Huey P. Newton sincerely wanted liberation for black people. From 1971 to the end of the Black Panther Party FBI/COINTELPRO-advanced tactics caused a rift between Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. Bobby Seale ran an unsuccessful mayoral campaign in Oakland as a Democrat in 1973. This was part of electoral politics. By the 1980’s, the Black Panther Party ended. The surviving Black Panthers do teach us lessons today.
These lessons include the truth that it is important to have a class analysis, it is that cultural nationalism is not enough for us to form liberation, it is that opposing capitalism is revolutionary, opposing sexism is a necessity in order for human liberation to exist, murder including any unjust acts have no justification, and that help in the community is a necessity. Another big legacy of the Black Panther Party is that opposing police brutality is a key way in which human liberation can be a reality. The history of the Black Panther Party during the 1970’s and the 1980’s must be known as a way for us to promote better ways of carrying on during the 21st century. Today, we believe in political independence, workers’ solidarity, gender equality, and the repudiation of imperialism (regardless if a Republican or Democratic President executes imperialist, neoliberal policies). We desire human justice concretely.
It is always important to acknowledge the role of black women in the Black Panther Party too. As Kathleen Neal Cleaver has written in 1988:
"...The way Black women have sustained our community is phenomenal. Historically, we did not live within the isolation of a patriarchal world, we were thrust into that brutal equality slavery imposed. Our foremothers knew we would have to face the world on our own, and they tried to prepare us for that. What I think need to be examined and explained more fully are the powerful contributions women have made to our resistance against slavery, to our resistance against segregation, to our resistance against racism. Placing the participation of women in the Black Panther Party within that context illuminates a long tradition of fighting women..." (Women, Power, and Revolution by Kathleen Neal Cleaver (1998))
The year of 1971 was the turning point in the Black Panther Party movement. During the year of 1970, the Black Panther Party was in its apex and afterwards in 1971, it was furthered suppressed by the FBI (and other agents of the federal government) and internal disputes. Soon, it started to decline nationally. In January 1971, the Black Panther Party created the Intercommunal Youth Institute in January of 1971. This was created to demonstrating how black youth ought to be educated. Ericka Huggins was the director of the school and Regina Davis was an administrator. The school was unique in that it did not have grade levels but instead it had different skill levels so an 11-year-old could be in second-level English and fifth-level science. Elaine Brown taught reading and writing to a group of 10- to 11-year-olds deemed "ineducable" by the system. The school children were given free busing, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Additionally, the students were given books and school supplies. Children were taken to have medical checkups and many children were given free clothes. In January 1971, Newton also expelled Geronimo Pratt, who since 1970 had been in jail facing a pending murder charge that he said that hasn’t committed. He was recently released years ago and he passed away recently. Newton also expelled 2 of the New York 21 and his own secretary, who fled the country. February 1971 was the time when Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver split and they argued during a live broadcast link up. Newton expelled Cleaver and the entire international section from the party. Huey Newton wanted to have a further development of social programs while Eldridge Cleaver wanted outright insurrection and political resistance against the oppressive capitalist state ASAP. Newton wanted revolutionary existence to exist in a step by step process. Actually, Eldridge was more against Hillard (whom Cleaver believed was right wing, or a moderate instead of revolutionary) than Newton.
In May of 1971, Bobby Seale is acquitted of ordering the Rackley murder, and returns to Oakland. From mid to late 1971, hundreds of Black Panther Party members quit nationwide. On August 21, 1971, George Jackson (a Panther leader, author, and activist) was killed by guards at San Quentin State Prison. 3 guards and 2 white inmates were also killed. This inspired the Attica rebellion in New York state when prisoners defended revolutionary change against brutal conditions. During September of 1971, Huey P. Newton visited and stayed in China for 10 days. At every airport in China, Huey was greeted by thousands of people waving copies of the Little Red Book and displaying signs that said "we support the Black Panther Party, down with US imperialism" or "we support the American people but the Nixon imperialist regime must be overthrown." During the trip, the Chinese arranged for him to meet and have dinner with a DPRK ambassador, a Tanzania ambassador, and delegations from both North Vietnam and the Provisional. Huey was under the impression he was going to meet Mao Zedong, but instead had two meetings with the first Premier of the People's Republic of China Zhou Enlai. One of these meetings also included Mao Zedong's wife Jiang Qing. Huey described China as "a free and liberated territory with a socialist government." On October 1, 1971, thousands of Chinese people were in Tiananmen Square and they waved red flags. Ironically, many years later, many Chinese military forces will assault Chinese protesters in Tiananmen Square when these protesters wanted democratic rights in China. They or Chinese people back then praised the Panthers. There were revolutionary theater groups, acrobats, and folks of the revolutionary ballet performed in the celebration. Huge red banners mentioned the words of “Peoples of the World, Unite to Destroy the American Aggressors and Their Lackeys.” After 1971, the Black Panther Party would never be the same again.
The Black Panther Party and internationalism go hand and hand. The Black Panther Party didn’t just want freedom in America. They wanted all oppressed peoples internationally to have liberation. For example, the Black Panther Party opposed the Vietnam War and desired the Vietnamese people to have independence. The Black Panther Party desired Zimbabwe and South Africa to be free from colonial rule as well. The BPP supported the revolutionary movements in Latin America. On November 29, 1968, 1500 delegates from all over the Americas came into Montreal for the Hemispheric Conference to End the War in Vietnam. Salvador Allende, who was the President of the Chilean Senate and later was President of Chile including other people were there to oppose the Vietnam War. Quebecois secessionists were in the meeting. M. Hoang Minah, or the North Vietnamese minister of culture was there too. Many Black Panthers led by Bobby Seale and David Hilliard came into Montreal too. They met at St. James Church in downtown Montreal. Bobby Seale said that there can be no peace without justice.
Brother Zeke from Baltimore spoke to promote anti-imperialism. Members of this meeting supported the National Liberation Front of Vietnam. The Black Panther Party's Ten Point Plan and policy positions embrace much of Marxism since Marxism by nature is anti-imperialism and pro-proletariat. Jamaican Connie Matthews organized the travel of the Black Panthers to travel into Scandinavia (which is a region filled with social democratic and socialist policies). Bobby Seale and Masai Hewitt came into Stockholm, Sweden, Oslo, Norway, Helsinki, Finland, and Copenhagen, including Germany. They wanted to promote the anticolonial struggle against imperialism. They promoted Free Huey rallies. Connie Matthews wanted proletariat revolution internationally. Eldridge Cleaver traveled into Cuba and in Algiers, Algeria to promote the Free Huey campaign from 1968 to 1969. The Pan African Cultural Festival of 1969 was represented by the Black Panthers including other pan-African organizations in Algiers, Algeria. Cleaver would link up with representatives of the North Vietnamese too. The Black Panthers Party was a global movement with chapters in multiple countries throughout the Earth.
The Great Split
The split in the Black Panther Party came about because of many reasons. It existed in 1971, yet rumblings occurred before 1971. The split occurred, because of FBI-engineering of divisions. Also, it came about because of ideological disagreements that came about in the Black Panther Party. When Huey P. Newton was in prison and when Bobby Seale had his trial, much of the Black Panther’s policies were governed by David Hilliard and the Central Committee. The Central Committee wanted to root out corruption, so they purged or fired many members of the Black Panthers that they deemed corrupt or against the rules of the Party. The problem was that many of the people who were kicked out like Geronimo Pratt were innocent of any violation and the Central Committee became more authoritarian in its functions and activities. Hilliard gained more power and many Panthers disagreed with him as viewing him as too reformist and compromising. When Huey left prison, he allied with Hilliard. Cleaver and many people from the NY Panther 21 viewed Hilliard as too reformist and accommodating (or right wing). They opposed Hilliard from an ideological standpoint. Huey P. Newton waned to not focus on retaliatory violence against the police during the time, because he wanted to focus on survival programs (like the Breakfast for Children program, health care services, ambulance services, etc.). Eldridge Cleaver and members of the NY Panther 21 (some of whom praised the Weathermen Underground) wanted violence against the police and promoted a more confrontational approach to create liberation for black people. The group around Eldridge Cleaver and the New York Chapter (branch) charged the Oakland, California leadership of Huey Newton with ‘revisionism’, while the Newton group characterized the opposition as ‘adventurists.’ Dhoruba bin Wahad was one person from NY who opposed Hilliard for his revisionist ideologies in his mind. He wanted a radical solution excluding token bourgeois politics.
Both sides of the Newton faction and the Cleaver faction would not unify as time went onward. Newton accused Cleaver of using adventurism and causing many Panthers to die like Bobby Hutton by virtue of reckless policies. Cleaver, Donald Cox, and others expressed most his criticism against Hilliard as claiming that he was the ringleader of causing the Panthers to create a more compromising approach to things. The Cleavers formed a new organization called the Revolutionary People’s Communication Network. Kathleen returned to America to promote and speak about the new organization. To accomplish this, she and the children moved back to New York. To this day, Kathleen Cleaver have heroically promoted progressive causes. In the midst of factional disputes, many innocent Black Panthers were killed mysteriously. So, some Panthers wanted to focus on community programs while the other faction of Panthers wanted to use guerrilla warfare against the state. By 1972, the Black Panther changed and evolved to be involved in electoral, reformist politics, more investments in community programs, it lost a lot of liberal support (because of the split and other controversies in the BPP), and it decreased in its numerical power. We live in a class struggle and the working class and the poor ought to have economic justice if we are all to be free for real. The Black Panther Party changed forever by 1972.
Specific Problems and Mistakes
The Black Panthers existed during a time of revolutionary change in America. The Black Panthers even was not perfect. To be fair, we must be honest. We must be honest to show the good works and the excellent actions that the Black Panther Party did and the mistakes that they have made. The following will include the mistakes of the Black Panther Party and the problems that they have faced during their existence. The BPP’s visionary Ten Point Program gave direction and a strategy to confront racism, economic injustice, and oppression in general. The party’s internationalist, socialist policies inspired black people and many people of all colors who wanted to oppose war and any injustice throughout the world. The Black Panther Party existed for almost 20 years and they influenced social movements throughout the late 20th century and during the 21st century. Therefore, here are the problems that the Black Panther Party to deal with and mistakes that the Black Panthers made.
1). SEXISM: Many Black Panther members were outright sexists. Some believed in the lie that revolutionary ethos was the sole intellectual property of a man. As Assata Shakur has accurately states, a man can’t be a revolutionary by embracing reactionary views on gender. Elaine Brown and other women from the Black Panther Party exposed sexism in the party and written books about it. Elaine Brown’s “Taste of Power” mentioned information about the evil of sexism in the Black Panther Party in great detail. One Sister named Regina Davis managed the Panther’s highly praised school. Yet, many sick males assaulted Regina Davis and Regina ended up in the hospital. Her jaw was broken, after she reprimanded a male colleague for not carrying out an assignment. Brown writes that when she told Newton of her anger over the attack, he refused to break solidarity with the men, challenging her to a debate in the Central Committee. As we know, black women were the backbone of all of the Black Panthers’ administrative and organization work. They were leaders in the Survival Programs. The Black Panther Party later called for gender equality, but abuse against Panther women continued.
2). VIOLENCE: The FBI and the state in general promoted divisions among many Black Panther members. Also, some Black Panther members unfortunately used unjust violence against fellow Black Panther members.
3). EVIL FBI/GOVT. INFILTRATION AND REPRESSION: David Hilliard and Lewis Cole’s book “This Side of Glory” fully exposed how the FBI and other agents of the U.S. government used illegal tactics in literally trying to destroy the Black Panther Party. The Chicago police Department have members who were complicit in the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in 1969. The FBI had agents promoting division in the Black Panther Party. Many agents infiltrated the BPP. Many Panther members were unjustly arrested, harassed, lied about, and even murdered. Thirty-eight Panthers were murdered under the FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign. Hundreds of others were rounded up and thrown in jail. In an interview given to the New York Times on September 8, 1968, J. Edgar Hoover described the BPP as “the real long-range threat to American society.” Hoover's orders of March 25, 1968 were carried out in full. Cointelpro had been instructed to “prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups…prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement…The negro youth and moderate[s] must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teachings, they will be dead revolutionaries.” There is no question that the FBI have done terrorism when J. Edgar Hoover was the head of it. Hoover was a disgraceful male and hypocrite who claimed to promote human freedom, but used undercover tactics in violating the human and democratic rights including the fact of how Hoover violated the privacy of progressive, anti-war activists, civil rights leaders, Black Panthers, etc.
4). CLASS ANALYSIS PROBLEMS: The Black Panthers were right that capitalism is imperfect and that ending imperialism is important. Yet, many BPP members believed that only the lumpen proletariat alone (or the poorest of communities) would lead the revolutionary change necessary to cause justice for all. Many of them didn’t want the working class to have a great role in the change. The Panthers followed a Maoist view of a revolutionary party in support of nationalist liberation movements. The truth is that the lumpenproletariat and the working class should unite to fight for social change. The reason is that the lumpenproletariat needs the power base of the organized working class to end oppression. The Black Panthers did form caucuses and organizational networks at the General Motors plant in Fremont, California and in a few other factories. Yet, many BPP members didn’t want a too big of an emphasis on the power of the working class. In words, black human rights and working class rights go hand in hand.
During the 1960’s and the 1970’s, the Black Panther instituted many programs to help the masses of the people. Their famous program was the Breakfast Program for children. Black Panther men and women organized buildings to help children with reading, writing, and other fields. They also gave children breakfast day by day. It was a very powerful and successful program. The announcement for the Free Breakfast for Children Program started in September of 1968. They called for volunteers to grow the program too. The breakfast program was officially started in January of 1969 in St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in west Oakland, California. Beckford-Smith, LaVerne Williams, and other women helped to be involved in the program too. In its first week, 135 children were served daily at St. Augustine’s. By March of 1969, another Free Breakfast for Children Program existed in the Fillmore area of San Francisco. It was in the Sacred Heart Church. It grew quickly all over California. From August 1969 to August 1970, the Black Panther Party created an extensive amount of programs geared to help out the community. They were liberation schools, child development centers, the Sickle Celle anemia research Foundation, free housing cooperatives, the Free Pest Control Program, the Seniors Escorts Program, the Free Ambulance Program, free health care clinics, the Free Distribution Program, the Free Clothing program, and other services for the community. Thousands of children were fed with the breakfast locations.
Former Detroit Panther JoNina Abron said that the breakfast services were supported in a widespread way throughout the black community. These programs also educated children and adults on real Black History. The breakfast program in Brownsville, NYC fed children and other hungry people in the community. Churches and supermarkets aided the Black Panther Party in giving food to children and other human beings. These responses from the Panther Party came in response to the anemic resources from the War on Poverty budgets to help the poorest of the poor (especially when billions of dollars back then were sent to the Vietnam War). Of the course, the police and the FBI hated the Free Breakfast program as the claimed that they were promoting “indoctrination of children.” Many cops raided breakfast locations constantly. The police in Richmond, California used a disinformation plan by lying and saying that the Breakfast programs wanted to promote racism and riots. Safiya A. Bukhari advanced the program in Harlem, NYC. The Black Panther Party used free health care clinics since many poor communities lacked adequate health care service. A book written by a great black woman named Alondra Nelson entitled, “Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination” document how many Black Panthers helped black people in health care services and in health in general. These free health care clinics included physical examinations, personal care, testing for lead poisoning, high blood pressure testing, first aid actions, and other services. These clinics existed in New Haven, Kansas City, Seattle, etc. They did amazing work in sickle cell research. They also helped out prisoners with their Free Busing to Prison Program. The mass incarceration rates grew from 1968 to the present. The Party liberation school called the Intercommunal Youth Institute in Oakland lasted from January 1971 to 1982. It was praised and it was involved in a great measure by Ericka Huggins. Therefore, the Black Panther Party had wide ranging programs that were unsung among many quarters.
The End of an Era
The end of the Black Panther Party started in 1972 and the BPP ended completely in 1982. Its ending was tragic, sad, and filled with changes in American society. By 1972, Huey P. Newton called for the end of chapters nationwide. He wanted all efforts to be focused in Oakland. Newton rejects insurrectionary violence and focused on creating survival programs in Oakland in order for revolutionary change to come in a step by step process. This begins an overt push on the part of the Black Panther Party to be involved in reformist politics. Many people disagreed with this action like the BLA (or the BLack Liberation Army) who wanted more militancy in order for black people to have justice. By mid-1972, many BPP members and its supporters win a number of minor offices in the Oakland city elections. Elaine Brown increased her power in the Black Panther Party during the time. She runs for city council while Bobby Seale runs for mayor of Oakland in the Democratic Party. They both lose their respective elections. By 1974, many Black Panther Party people left the party. Bobby and John Seale are expelled by Huey P. Newton in 1974. David and June Hillard were expelled. Chicago BPP members left too. A teenager named Kathleen Smith was murdered. Debates continue on whether Huey P. Newton was involved in her murder or not. One thing is true. That is that murder is wrong and we send condolences to the family of Kathleen Smith. Kathleen Smith was 19 years old when she was murdered. Huey P. Newton fled to Cuba to escape criminal prosecution. Elaine Brown stays and runs the Black Panther Party in his absence.
During this time, Elaine Brown did do many great things in helping the community of Oakland, California. In December 1974: accountant Betty van Patter is murdered, after threatening to disclose irregularities in the Party's finances. I send condolences to the family and friends of Betty van Patter. When Huey P. Newton, returns from Cuba, he goes into a personal downward spiral of drug addiction, violence, rumored mental health issues, and internal discord. Minister of Education Ray "Masai" Hewitt created the Buddha Samurai, the party's underground security cadre in Oakland. Newton expelled Hewitt from the party later in 1972, but the security cadre remained in operation under the leadership of Flores Forbes. One of the cadre's main functions was to extort and rob drug dealers and after-hours clubs. Newton was also indicted for pistol-whipping his tailor, Preston Callins. Huey P. Newton showed his writing skills by having his Ph.D., being in interviews, and writing eloquently. Yet, his imperfections persisted and his imperfections have no justification. There is no justification for unjust assault or murder. The Party supported Lionel Wilson in his successful election as the first black mayor of Oakland, in exchange for Wilson's assistance in having criminal charges dropped against Party member Flores Forbes, leader of the Buddha Samurai cadre.
Elaine Brown focused the Party more in an electoral direction. She allowed more women leadership in the BPP too. Elaine Brown’s leadership in the Party came from August 1974 to June 1977. During that time, the Party had embraced many social democratic policies and developed policies. Elaine Brown supported Jerry Brown for governor of California, which he won. Black Congressman Ron Dellum and organized labor supported Elaine Brown. The first black mayor of Oakland was Lionel Wilson. Elaine Brown and the Black Panther Party used their resources to help him to be elected. In May of 1977. By this time, Watergate was over and the centrist President Jimmy Carter was elected. Newton’s drug addiction was bad and he embezzled funds from the school to pay for his drug addiction. The Black Panther Party was about 27 in 1980 and its Panther sponsored school ended in 1982. The Black Panther Party in general ended in 1982. FBI/government infiltration and attacks (John Potash has written books that goes into great detail in accurately showing how the FBI used division, murder, and infiltration to attack the Black Panthers and other revolutionary organizations), internal disputes, murder, and other crisis caused the BPP to end. Huey P. Newton would continue to lecture and give interviews on television. Huey P. Newton would be murdered in 1989. I send condolences to Newton’s family and friends. The lesson here is that there is nothing wrong with revolutionary fervor, but revolutionary action must always be bounded in the realm of morality, integrity, and humane treatment. There is no excuse for murder, rape, harassment, assault, embellishment, bigotry, sexism, racism, xenophobia, and any injustice period.
I believe in social and economic justice. I also believe in morality too. I do respect the Black Panthers who did the right thing and promoted excellence and helped others. We can be revolutionaries and treat our neighbors as ourselves at the same time.
After the evil and unfortunate murder of Huey Newton in 1989, the 1990’s came along. Now, it is time to accurately describe and analyze the black American historical experience during the 1990's. Many Black Panthers were in prison, some taught in universities, and other Black Panthers continuously became community activists. On January 13, 1990, Douglas Wilder became the first elected African American governor in American history. He took office in Richmond, Virginia. By the early 1990’s, there was a strong Afrocentric and black consciousness movement in American society. Many young black people back during the early 1990’s wore hats with Xs on them (to honor the memory of Brother Malcolm X). Many people wore clothing with African American labels on them and many people understood about Africa and about many things related to issues of the black community. Artists like Arrested Development sang passionately about family, community, and black solidarity. Their songs "Mississippi" "Wendal", and "Revolution" outlined their views. Throughout the 1990’s, we saw the twilight of the Second Reconstruction. That meant that the liberal reforms of the 1960’s were attacked and replaced with the incremental conservativism of George H. W. Bush and the infamous centrism of William Jefferson Clinton. We saw the growth of the Internet, e-mail, and computer technology during the 1990's too. I was a child and teenager back then. Anti-black oppression continued. Bush Sr. was a little more moderate than Ronald Reagan on racial issues (he signed the 1991 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act), but he nevertheless promoted black neoconservatives and black conservatives in the Supreme Court and in the White House. George H. W. Bush promoted the controversial Clarence Thomas in the Supreme Court (he would go to advance the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the gutting of Fourth Amendment in the 21st century). The strong black attorney Anita Hill said that Thomas sexually harassed. To this day, Anita Hill has inspired black women, women in general, and black people to achieve their dreams and aspirations (along with opposing any form of sexual harassment).
After the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the recession continued America. It happened from 1990 to 1991. In April of 1992, the Los Angeles rebellion occurred after officers were acquitted the first time after brutally beating Rodney King almost to death. The non acquittal of the officers who assaulted Rodney King led into the Los Angeles rebellion of 1992. That rebellion was an expression of anger and outrage at the criminal injustice system, racism, economic deprivation, and police brutality. It was a prelude to the future rebellions of Ferguson in 2014 and in Baltimore in 2015. In September 12, 1992, Mae Carol Jemison was the first African American woman to travel into space where she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. To this very day, Sister Mae Carol Jemison has promoted STEM fields especially among the black community and helped communities throughout America. Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992 and he said that he gave a moderate prescription to the economic problems in America (Clinton opposed Reaganomics, which should be opposed. He desired tax cuts for the middle class and slight tax increases for the super wealthy). Clinton disagreed with Sistah Soujah (who is a very courageous and intelligent black woman) as a way for him to appeal to white conservatives. Also, on November 3, 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Senate. In 1992, Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X was release which would galvanize the black community and inspire black people the world over. William Jefferson Clinton (who was a former Governor of Arkansas) won the 1992 Presidential election in November of 1992.
The 1990’s saw a confluence of many issues and events. There was the expansion of the prison industrial complex, the debates about racial controversies, and the burning of many black churches throughout America. I remember watching the news about black churches being destroyed by white racists during the late 1990’s especially. Republicans and their allies attacked affirmative action programs. In November of 1994, the conservative Republicans dominated Congress. Civil rights hero and legend Myrlie Evers-Williams was the National Chairman of the NAACP in 1995. There was the OJ Simpson trial which was watched heavily. It was covered a lot and the jury found OJ Simpson not guilty in 1995 when I was in the 7th grade of middle school. It was a trial that divided Americans racially.
At the center of the 1990’s, the Million Man March would happen in Washington, D.C. It was controversial during the time. It was initiated by Louis Farrakhan, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, James Bevel, and others. Louis Farrakhan (who wanted the growth of black businesses and he held to many conservative views on other issues) was the leader of the March and he to this day is viewed as controversial by many. Also, he’s loved by many. Louis Farrakhan during the 1990’s and beyond cultivated alliances with many hip hop artists. The march wanted black men to have atonement and improve their communities in patriarchal terms. It was a march that its supporters wanted to counteract the negative, evils stereotypes about black men in general. The truth is that not all black men are murderers and rapists. Many black men and many black women represent integrity and a love for Blackness. Also, the march dealt with issues of voting, the black family, crime, social consciousness, and other issues. Many people loved the march while others viewed the march as sexist, too conservative, and bigoted. Many socialists viewed the March as not tackling the capitalist system as the reason why many black people suffer oppression and injustice.
The march happened and many marches would exist in the future including the Justice or Else March in October 10, 2015 (which would include women, and people of color). The 1995 Million Man would include 50 speakers like Jesse Jackson, John Conyers, Joe Lowery, Dorothy Height, and numerous black nationalists. The Million Woman March would happen in Philadelphia by October 25, 1997. The speakers in the Million Woman March would include Sister Souljah, Winnie Mandela, Dorothy Height, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Afeni Shakur. In 1996, Bill Clinton followed “law and order” conservative policies. He passed the Crime Bill in 1994, which expanded the death penalty and expanded the prison system. He expanded military strikes in the Balkans and in other places during the 1990’s as well. Eldridge Cleaver had one of the most radical ideological changes of any member of the Black Panther movement. He came into America in 1975. He made a deal with the state that nearly all charges against him were dropped. He came back to be part of the Moon movement and he said that he was a born again Christian. He struggled with cocaine addiction for the remaining years of his life. He also converted to Mormonism by December 11, 1983. He supported the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, and became heavily conservative. By 1997, a year before his death, he had come to the following conclusion, a far cry from his earlier ultraleft radicalism: “I think that it is possible for the capitalist system to have a program of full employment, but we have a spiritual and moral problem in America. Our problem is not economic or political; it is that we do not care about each other.” Before he died, he had diabetes and prostate cancer. He died in May 1, 1998. During this time, we saw the increase of the African American middle class. After 1968, many black families moved into the suburbs (or wealthier communities) while poor communities saw an increase of economic inequality by after the 1960's. There has been a growth of class stratification in the black American community. In other words, there is the black wealthy, the black middle class, and the black poor. Some black people unfortunately look down on the black poor working class for elitist, classist reasons. That must end.
During this decade, the expansion of hip hop occurred. From being limited to NYC during the 1970’s to being internationally expressed by the 1990’s, hip hop became diverse. Many hip hop artists would progressively show opposition to the War on Drugs, police brutality, and oppression. Other artists would show lyrics that are misogynistic, anti-black, promote materialism, glamorized other evils, and filled with nihilistic bigotry. That is why C. Delores Tucker and other activists would oppose rap music that degraded women and glamorized violence. C. Delores Tucker was heavily criticized and it is sad that many people saw what she was talking about only after her passing. RIP Sister C. Delores Tucker. Hip hop culture during the 1990’s was extremely popular among the youth. Hip hop culture is diverse too. People of every race and creed love hip hop music. The youth sought respect, self expression, and freedom. To much of the youth, hip hop was one outlet for them to honestly outline their views on life. The great tragedies of the murder of Tupac Shakur in 1996 and the Notorious B.I.G. in 1997 outlined the necessity to condemn murder and promote human respect. Also, R&B music was popular in the 1990’s too. Racist hate crimes against black people existed like James Byrd Jr. being murdered by white supremacists in Jasper, Texas at June 7, 1998. Police brutality cases grew. On February 4, 1999 Amaudou Diallo was shot by NYPD. He was murdered by the NYPD. Massive protests in NYC existed to fight police brutality like the murder of Diallo.
Also, the New Black Panther Party grew during the 1990’s as well. There are similarities and differences between the Black Panther Party and the New Black Panther Party. The BPP and the NBPP both proclaimed the love of black people, the love of the black community, opposition to imperialism, denouncement of white racism (as white racism is evil and totally reprehensible), and opposition to police brutality. The difference is that the NBPP is much more separatist and conservative on many issues than the BPP. The Huey Newton Foundation and Bobby Seale has condemned the NBPP because of ideological reasons. The BPP embraced more Marxist-Leninist, socialist views than the NBPP (the NBPP is also influenced by the views of the Nation of Islam as many NOI members are in the NBPP). Khalid Muhammad was a famous member of the NBPP. He was once a leader in the Nation of Islam. He supported Million Youth Marches in 1998 and 1999. He passed away in February 17, 2001. I have to mention this information too. Some people want to equate the NBPP with the KKK. That is not only ludicrous, but a slander. It's one thing to ideologically disagree with some of the views of the NBPP. Yet, the NBPP never lynched people, never raped people as a part of policy, never deprived people of voting rights, never burned crosses, never supported the Confederate flag, and never said that black people are inferior (as black people are never inferior to anyone). Therefore, while I don't agree with the NBPP on every issue, I will never equate the NBPP to the KKK (which is a white racist terrorist organization that has actually murdered and raped black people). Also, during the late 1990’s, a group of African American progressives called the Black Radical Congress would advance their progressive views. Bill Clinton would promote the Race Initiative in 1997 in facilitating interracial dialogue. Yet, Bill Clinton would continue neoliberal policies (from ending Glass Steagall to passing the telecommunications bill) to the end of his Presidency in 2001. Job growth expanded during the Clinton years, but much of the job growth was low wage jobs. The crime rate also declined by the end of the 1990’s too. Also, Bill Clinton signed a law that ended the modern welfare system in the 1990's, which progressive human beings legitimately opposed. The end of the 1990’s saw a transitional period in world history. It was the end of the Cold War and the start of the information age into a higher level. After the 1990’s, we saw the Presidency of George W. Bush (which was a terrible Presidency in many ways from his unjust wars of aggression, the Katrina response disaster, and to the economic recession at the end of George W. Bush’s second term).
The Millennial Generation (from the Age of Obama and Beyond)
After the era of the Black Panther Party, we see a new era in our generation. From the late 1960’s to the present, we have seen the growth of the middle class (many of the middle class are in privileged position and some of them have shown disdain for the poor, which is wrong), the privatization of many public schools, and the expansion of the military industrial complex including the growth of the prison industrial complex. We live in the age of Obama in the early part of the 21st century. Many folks who claim to be progressive want to have uncritical support of the Democratic Party instead of political independence. It has been almost 20 years in this new century in this new millennium. This era of time is definitely tied to the 21st century recession and terrorism. The recession of the 21st century started by many factors like the risk derivatives executed by some big banking interests. Many black people and others have suffered foreclosures, layoffs, and increased economic inequality as a product of economic problems. The war on terror has in many cases expanded during the Age of Obama. Drone attacks, unjust wars, torture, reactionary laws, etc. have existed in this war on terror. The President has been elected in 2008 and in 2012. Our black ancestors have experienced slavery in the Americas for over 300 years and even after the U.S. legally abolished slavery, Jim Crow apartheid existed for about 100 years after the end of the Civil War. Resistance and rebellion against injustice caused the 1960’s Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act to be passed. The historic election of Barack Obama has caused some to naively believe that we have entered a post-racial era. Yet, the continued police terror against unarmed black people (and others), the continued brutal wars, the terrorism, and economic problems prove that we don’t live in an Utopian society.
The black woman in the photograph is Tess Asplund. She is heroic and brave. She confronted racist people in Sweden and her strength is powerful. The image shows the power of a black woman. Black women have been slandered and disrespected, but a black woman's worth and dignity are paramount and precious. The first human beings on this Earth are black people. We have an epidemic of fascists in Sweden and in America who hate black people, women, other minorities, etc. Intolerance and bigotry are never solutions to problems. Solutions to problems include compassion, policies of uplift, investments, and other things. It takes courage for her to do what she did. Sister Tess Asplund is a real activist and a heroic black woman. Bless Sister Tess Asplund. President Barack Obama is a President who is a paradox ideologically. He is the most progressive President on many social issues in American history, but he is a neoliberal President in terms of economic and foreign policy matters unfortunately. It is documented that racist covenant policies and white racist mobs have harmed the housing rights of African Americans for decades. It is a fact that many black families and black people in general were restricted from mortgage insurance, etc. While investment in suburbia increased, investments to solve problems in urban and poorer communities have been stifled. The urban renewal and disinvestment in central cities grew residential and school segregation.
Classism, sexism, and racism contributed to continued intersectional oppression against black people (and others). The Justice Department has refused to prosecute a single policeman for civil rights violations in the murder of black youth and workers (except one person who is the murderer Michael Slager). Also, we have to acknowledge many progressive heroes fighting for real change. Many young people in the Black Lives Matter movement, Dream Defenders, Black Youth Project 100, Blackout for Human Rights, and other organizations have opposed the Confederate flag (which was gone from the South Carolina state Capitol building after Sister Bree Newsome took it down), we see a growing awareness about institutionalized racism including police terrorism. Also, we see the expansion of social media (which record abuses and has organized movements for social change too). President Barack Obama has given speeches about parenting in conservative overtones while forgetting that redlining, foreclosures, and police brutality can’t be solved by respectability politics. These problems can be solved by a radical redistribution of economic and political power where the power of structure of oppression, imperialism, and capitalism is replaced with a system of justice (where housing, education, health care, and other human rights are made available for all. In other words, the expansion of democratic and economic rights are key to liberating all of the human race). The events in Ferguson, Baltimore, NYC, and in other places of America are about people being tired of police terrorism, economic inequality, discrimination, unemployment, bigotry, intolerance, xenophobia, closed schools, and poverty. The evils of Islamophobia and the scapegoating of refugees including immigrants by many far right factions are deplorable. We also realize that many Brothers and Sisters globally are doing what is right and Afro-Colombians, Afro-Brazilians, etc. are strong people. We know that racism, and class oppression existed from the policies of the 1% via capitalism and other mechanisms of evil. So, the struggle continues. Our eyes are on the prize.
Sister Barbara Easley-Cox gave great advice (in her interview with PBS) on what to do:
"...There needs to be a lot of youth questioning authority. I don’t mean their parents and their teachers, or the policeman on the street. That all has to go on, but it needs to be raised to a higher level. I’m talking about our so-called leadership, from the president to the city council. I have not changed. I do vote; I encourage people to get involved with that process, wherever they are. People need to figure out where they want to go, what they want to see accomplished. The ’70s and ’80s were the time of the “Me Generation,” and the process of all this “me” means there’s still a lot of work to be done. It’s important to recognize that you’re not the only person suffering in your community. Join something secular and local in its nature, whether that’s saving a building, saving a park, or something else...Our legacy is also the legacy of everyone back to the first slave that came to America. We were just another link in history that builds on someone else’s struggles. That culture of resistance, it’s all around the world, and occasionally you’ll hear somebody mention the Black Panther Party as an influence, because they read or heard about it or saw a movie. Youth will pick up that culture of resistance, and learn how to interpret politics and community work based on that. Take what you need to progress."
We are in the end of 2016. The Black Panther Party's actions & ideologies has truly influenced the world today. We see young people raising their fists in celebrating. We witness adults chanting Power to the People in rallies to this very day. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense existed during the post-World War II Cold War America. This was during the time when many black young people (and other activists) were dismayed and angry at the slow progress of the Civil Rights Movement. The passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act existed in 1964 and 1965 respectively. While the system of overt legal apartheid was being dismantled back then, communities in Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, and other urban communities in America experienced de facto segregation, poverty, racism, discrimination, economic deprivation, and police brutality. The rebellions transpired in 1964-1965 (as found in Rochester, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York City) which influenced the ultimate creation of the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party was not only against imperialism and racism. They wanted to end capitalism and desire socialism to help humanity. The Free Breakfast program, free health care clinics, ambulatory services, and other institutions reflected the socialist ethos of the Black Panther Party. They sympathized with the suffering of the Third World and wanted international proletariat liberation. The rebellions was a act of insurrection against oppression and horrendous conditions in poor communities. The Black Panthers evaluated the rebellions and wanted people to channel their power to form revolutionary solutions. The founders of the Black Panther Party (that came about in Oakland in 1966) wanted to end oppression and capitalist exploitation of the black community by a a racist, classist, and sexist power structure. They enact tools of monitoring the police and the Children Breakfast program to help people and expanded their organization. They wanted to help the sick, the aged, and those in the prison system too.
Their peak was from 1967 to 1971. The BPP's allies were anti-war activists, progressive lawyers, other civil rights organizations, and other human beings of many colors. After 1971, they declined because of many factors like: splits, overt government repression (done by the FBI and local police agencies. The CPD murdered Fred Hampton and Mark Clark brutally in December of 1969), errors being made, and decreasing support from other individuals. Many Panthers made huge mistakes. Some did misogyny, unjust violence, and other evils. Malfeasance was done too. There is no excuse for these errors and evil actions period. Likewise, we honor the progressive, heroic Black Panthers who love the people, who stood up against police brutality, and who assisted humanity in excellent ways. These heroes love their own Black humanity. We honor people like Afeni Shakur, Kathleen Cleaver, Fredirka Newton, Barbara Easley-Cox, Assata Shakur, Safiya Bukhari, Angela Davis, and other human beings who fought for what is right and just. During the 21st century, neoliberal policies like bailouts to multinational corporations, austerity, repression of immigrant rights, and imperialist wars have harmed societies globally. Also, laws that violate democratic rights consist to persist in American society and even the Supreme Court recently have harmed the Fourth Amendment. Today, we have the Black Lives Matter Movement and other social movements engaging in the work for human justice. We believe in an international solidarity among humanity. The BPP taught us about internationalist solidarity, the love of the community, an abhorrence of capitalist exploitation, and revolutionary politics. We believe in political independence and the love of wisdom. The Black Panther Party motivates us now to fight for justice. We are still here. Black is Beautiful. Black Love is Beautiful and Glorious too. So, I will end my words in the following proclamation:
POWER TO THE PEOPLE.