Monday, July 24, 2017

Historical Research

After the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many people rejected nonviolence as a way of life. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense grew into a higher level and membership radically increased by 1968. On the night of April 6, 1968, the Black Panthers had a shootout with the Oakland police. In this shoot out, Black Panther member Bobby Hutton was murdered by the police. Eldridge Cleaver was with him and Cleaver was injured. According to Cleaver and the deposition of Officer Eugene Jennings (or one of the 2 black police officers who witnessed Hutton’s murder), Cleaver and Hutton was brutalized by the police. The officer said that one officer stepped forward and shot Hutton in the head. More than 2,500 people attended his funeral at Ephesians Church of God in Christ on Alcatraz Avenue in Berkeley, California. In the midst of police brutality and economic oppression, the BPP continued to have a huge following back then. The FBI and J. Edgar Hoover used COINTELPRO and other policies to try to suppress the BPP. Black Panthers spread across America. Many were arrested on trumpeted up charges. The Seattle BPP headquarters were raided in July of 1968. Captain Aaron Dixon of the Seattle BPP and Panther Curtis Harris were arrested for grand larceny. Both men were found not guilty later on. Protests continued to try to make Huey P. Newton free. The Black Panther Party also formed alliances with non-black organizations like the Brown Berets and white progressives. Black Panthers were shot at, harassed, and abused of their rights in Oakland, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. As the 1968 election existed, Chairman Bobby Seale and Captain David Hilliard spoke to a crowd of 5,000 across the street from the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The Panthers also supported international proletarian solidarity. In other words, they wanted poor and oppressed peoples to be free globally. They also explicitly opposed the Vietnam War, which was one of the greatest things that they did.  The BPP had imperfections. Many Panthers were sexists, some were violent against women (including women Panther members), and some lacked a class analysis (as you have to have both racial justice and an end to capitalist exploitation at the same time in order for liberation to come). Communications Secretary Kathleen Cleaver spoke nationwide during this time as well. She promoted black liberation and the beauty of our black African features. 1969 would be the start of the Free Breakfast Children Program or the FBCP. It first started in January of 1969 in St. Augustine’s Church in Oakland, California. They helped to feed children free food, they helped to educate children, and to the Panthers it was a socialist display of a community service to humanity. Also, they existed in response to the lax funding from the War on Poverty’s programs involving feeding poor children. The Breakfast program was very successful. Los Angeles Black Panther captain Bunchy Carter and John Huggins were murdered in Campbell Hall on the UCLA campus on January 17, 1969. There was a dispute between the Panthers and the cultural nationalist Us organization (which was exacerbated by the FBI). Black Panthers Seale and Masai Hewitt came into the Scandinavian countries (of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. These nations have social democratic policies) as a way to promote anti-war, pro-liberation views. Bobby Seale was part of the Chicago 8 or those who protested the DNC in Chicago back in 1968. Seale was gagged in trial. Early in the course of the trial, Black Panther Party activist Bobby Seale was denied his constitutional right to counsel of his choice and was thereafter illegally denied his right to defend himself. Later, he was released from prison in 1972. His charges (of inciting violence and a riot in Chicago) were serious. Many Panther headquarters in America continued to be bombed.

One of the most tragic events of Black Panther Party history was the murder of Fred Hampton in December of 1969. Hamptons’ murder was so unjust that people from across the political spectrum condemned his murder. Fred Hampton was a great leader. He was born in Summit, Illinois on August 30, 1948. He was a natural leader. He worked in the NAACP. He graduated from high school. He worked in his community and knew of the great importance of leadership. He was the greatest Black Panther member of Chicago.  Fred Hampton fought to organize gang truces in Chicago. He was publicly in favor of socialism and revolutionary change. He condemned racism and imperialism. Brother Fred Hampton fought for justice. He wanted black people, who were improvised in Chicago, to have their rights. He formed a class conscious, multiracial alliance among the Black Panther Party, the Young Patriots Organizations, and the Young Lords. They met in Lincoln Party. The SDS, the Blackstone Rangers, the Brown Berets, and the Red Guard allied with the BPP too. The truce came about in May of 1969. The FBI monitored Fred Hampton constantly since 1967. We know that William O’Neal was an informant (he committed suicide in 1990). O’Neal told the Chicago police and the FBI about Hampton’s whereabouts and where he lived. O’Neal was Hampton’s bodyguard. O’Neal tried to instigate tensions among the BPP and the Rangers. On December 4, 1969, the Chicago police executed Fred Hampton. He was asleep. The raid was organized by the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan (who was criticized by Fred Hampton). Hanrahan had recently been the subject of a large amount of public criticism by Hampton, who had made speeches about how Hanrahan's talk about a "war on gangs" was really rhetoric used to enable him to carry out a "war on black youth.” Other Black Panther members were arrested including Hampton’s pregnant girlfriend. Her name is Deborah Johnson. Mark Clark was murdered too by the Chicago police in that 1969 shooting. Black Panthers, progressive groups, and civil rights organizations all condemned the murder. Many called for an independent investigation. More people condemned this police repression like Reverend C. T. Vivian and others. Nearly every shot into the building was shot by the police. His funeral was met by about 5,000 people including Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson. The families of Hampton and Clark had to settle a lawsuit with the government for $1.85 million. December 4th is Fred Hampton Day in Chicago. RIP Brother Fred Hampton. The Black Panthers grew in New York City too. The Panther 21 were falsely accused of planning to blow up buildings in NYC. Assata Shakur was part of this group. The Black Panthers continued to grow by 1971 to reach its peak. After 1971, the Black Panther Party was split among a dispute among Huey P. Newton and Cleaver over philosophies and tactics. Many famous Black Panther leaders who were women include Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis, Erika Huggins, Assata Shakur, Elaine Brown, and other people. The Black Panther Party’s anti-capitalist, pro-black liberation views inspired many back then and today.

Richard Nixon was President from 1969 to 1974. His two term Presidency was controversial and antithetical to progressive Black Americans. Early on, he tried to gain some black support under the guise of ‘black capitalism.’ This was the philosophy that investments in capitalist enterprises in the black community would end the rebellions and incorporate black Americans into the mainstream of American society. Many black conservatives supported Nixon even former CORE and conservative civil rights leaders supported him. James Farmer was elected as assistant secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Nixon promoted affirmative action programs like the Philadelphia Plan. Nixon allied with Roy Wilkins (who was the Executive Secretary of the NAACP) and other people to work with him. Later, Wilkins opposed Nixon because of his policies on civil rights and on the poor. The hypocrite Agnew lectured many people on morality, but he resigned because he was involved in financial corruption. The law and order radical Spiro Agnew was his Vice President. He was the one who was former Maryland governor during the 1968 rebellions. Nixon wasn’t so apt to promote busing or the desegregation of schools. That was why Leon E. Panetta resigned to protest Nixon’s policies. Panetta was the director of civil rights for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Nixon promoted the view of New Federalism, which wanted more power sent to the states from the federal government (which is anti-New Deal). By September 1970, less than ten percent of black children were attending segregated schools. By 1971, however, tensions over desegregation surfaced in Northern cities, with angry protests over the busing of children to schools outside their neighborhood to achieve racial balance. Nixon opposed busing personally but enforced court orders requiring its use. Nixon supported the ERA. The ERA was the Equal Rights Amendment which promoted gender equality federally. Also, Richard Nixon supported the FBI’s effort to destroy the Black Panthers and progressive activist groups. Nixon declared a War on Drugs in July of 1969. Recently, the Nixon aide admitted the following: "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people," former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper's writer Dan Baum for the April cover story published Tuesday. "You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman said. "We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did." Ehrlichman's comment (on tape Ehrlichman made racist remarks about black people and Jewish people. One sign of a demonic person is a person who hate black people or Jewish people) is the first time the war on drugs has been plainly characterized as a political assault designed to help Nixon win, and keep, the White House. The Nixon tapes proved that Richard Nixon was a bigot and an extremist. (On those tapes, he made anti-Semitic and racist commentaries). Nixon committed the bombing in Cambodia and other war crimes in Vietnam. He ended the draft, but that doesn’t justify his criminal actions in Watergate. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights criticized Nixon for his approval of delays of school desegregation. So, Richard Nixon was slicker than a person like Trump in advancing reactionary politics.

Angela Davis is a black woman who made many lasting contributions of the black freedom struggle. We know of her working hard during the 1970’s, but she fought for justice long before the 1970’s. She was part of the counterculture, the Communist Party USA, and she had close ties to the Black Panther Party too. She was born in the South in Birmingham, Alabama (in 1944). She is also a great educator, author, and social activist. During her childhood, she heard the bombing of homes in her middle class neighborhood. She traveled into New York City too. Her relatives were active in the Civil Rights Movement. Her mother was a national officer and leading organizer of the Southern Negro Youth Congress. Her name was Sallye Bell Davis. She grew up learning about communism and liberal thinking. She attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She also studied the Frankfurt School philosophy of the philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse criticized capitalism, modern technology, historical materialism, and entertainment culture. He was a theorist of the New Left. Angela Davis at her core was a social activist. She attended the conference on "The Dialectics of Liberation" in 1967. The black contingent at the conference included the Trinidadian-American Kwame Ture and the British Michael X. Although moved by Carmichael's rhetoric, she was reportedly disappointed by her colleagues' Black Nationalist sentiments and their rejection of communism as a "white man's thing." The truth is that socialist thinking has existed throughout human history, especially in Africa, Europe, Asia, etc. Angela Davis was part of the Communist group called Che-Lumumba Club (an all-black branch of the Communist Party USA). Davis earned her master's degree from University of California-San Diego. She earned her doctorate in philosophy from the Humboldt University in East Berlin. She was an acting assistant professor in the philosophy department of the University of California from 1969 to 1970. Back then, Reagan was Governor and he opposed her being a professor, because she was a Communist. Back then, there was massive red baiting in America. I believe that a Communist or a non-Communist has the right to teach wherever they want to. Angela Davis was in favor of feminism and equality. The Board of Regents of the University of California, urged by then-California Governor Ronald Reagan, fired her from her $10,000 a year post in 1969 because of her membership in the Communist Party. The Board of Regents was censured by the American Association of University Professors for their failure to reappoint Davis after her teaching contract expired.

She didn’t back down. On October 20, 1969, when Judge Jerry Pacht ruled the Regents could not fire Davis solely because of her affiliation with the Communist Party, Davis resumed her post. Angela Davis supported the Soledad Brothers. She was and is a supporter of the prisoner rights movement. She condemned the prison system as inhumane, corrupt, and repugnant. On August 7, 1970, Jonathan Jackson was armed and held up and took hostage Judge Harold Haley, the prosecutor, and three female jurors as hostages. As Jackson transported the hostages and two black convicts away from the courtroom, the police began shooting at the vehicle. The judge and the three black men were killed in the melee; one of the jurors and the prosecutor were injured. Although the judge was shot in the head with a blast from the shotgun, he also suffered a chest wound from a bullet that may have been fired from outside the van. Evidence during the trial showed, however, that either could have been fatal. California authorities accused Angela Davis of giving support to Jonathan Jackson in sending him the gun to do the prison break. Hours after the judge issued the warrant on August 14, 1970, a massive attempt to locate and arrest Angela Davis began. On August 18, 1970, four days after the initial warrant was issued, the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover listed Davis on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List; she was the third woman and the 309th person to be listed. Angela Davis was a fugitive. She left California. She lived with friends’ homes and traveled into NYC. She was captured by FBI agents in a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in New York City on October 13, 1970. Nixon congratulated the FBI on capturing Davis. She was on trial. She was found innocent by an all-white jury. She spent 16 months in jail. She once dated George Jackson. Both exchanged love letters with each other. There is no evidence that she was involved in the plot. Angela Davis was a free woman by 1972. By 1997, she publicly came out as a lesbian. To this very day, she has a love of academics and politics. She continues to speak up against the prison industrial complex, against imperialism, against xenophobia, and against many injustices. The documentary "Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners" shows the ordeals of her life. I have the DVD at my home and it's a great, superb documentary. Angela Davis spoke out for a long time in favor of black liberation. The struggle for black freedom continues.

By Timothy

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