The Black Panther Party: 5 Quick Facts About This Movement

The Black Panther Party (BPP) was a black power political movement founded in October 1966 in Oakland by college students Bobby Seale as the chairman and Huey P. Newton. At its formation, the party’s core practice was its open armed citizens’ patrol to keep in check and patrol the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality in Oakland. It was one of the first organizations in U.S. to militantly struggle for ethnic minority and working class emancipation–, and whose agenda was the revolutionary establishment or real economic social and political equality across gender and color lines. As from 1969, the Party began incorporating social programs to address food injustice, education and community health. Membership of the part hit its peak in 1970, with thousands of members and offices in 68 cities but began declining over the following year after the mainstream press vilified its leaders and members.

The Black Panther Party’s Goal

Reports of the group’s alleged criminal activities such as drug dealing and extortion of Oakland merchants further led to the group’s decline. The 1970s saw the Black Panther Party’s continued decline, and by 1980 it had been reduced to only 27 members. Commentators described the party differently, with others characterizing it as the most influential black movement of the late 1960s while others insisted it was more criminal than political.

This study seeks to understand the background of the Black Panther Party Movement, reasons for formation, and its goals and objectives. It further gives a detailed explanation of the accomplishments and failures of the movement and how it operated. Setbacks and incompetency of the party is also clearly laid out in this study.

The convenient persuasion theory for this study is the Elaborate Likelihood Model developed by Petty and Cacioppo. Based on the model mentioned above, persuasion occurs in two ways: the peripheral and central routes. The central route appeals to people through facts, logic, and evidence, while the persuasive route depends on the compelling external elements such as the author’s credibility and presentation of facts. The central route established an effective persuasion because reasoning requires a lot of effort. Using both routes can produce a more significant outcome. 

Continued economic and social inequality and increased police violence, poor living conditions, chronic health problems, violence, and joblessness experienced by African Americans living in North America significantly contributed to urban uprisings in the 1960s. In this context, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense came into existence on October 15, 1966, under the leadership of college students Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The name was later shortened to the Black Panther Party. It distinguished between racists and nonracist whites and aligned themselves with progressive members of the latter group.

The Black Panther outlined a Ten Point Program to initiate national African American community survival projects and forge alliances with progressive white radicals and other people of color. The program addressed a principle stance of the Black Panther Party: economic exploitation is the root of all oppression in the United States. The abolition of capitalism is a precondition of social justice. A Marxist political philosophy informed me; this economic outlook resonated with other social movements in the U.S.  Thus, the organization found itself crossing paths with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was even considered the greatest threat to national security by the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in 1969.

Objectives of the Black Panther Party

In line with its objectives, the Black Panther Party Movement established various community-based programs to provide African Americans services. The first was the Free Breakfast for School Children Program, which put pressure on political leaders to feed children before school. The program involved party members and volunteers soliciting donations from stores, consulting with nutritionists on healthful breakfast options for children, and preparing and serving the food for free. The program’s purpose was to fuel revolution by encouraging black people’s survival, and it fed tens of thousands of hungry kids. The plan was soon embraced nationwide by party members.

The Black Panther Party
black panther party
Paris, France – October 31, 2015: Banner about Black Panther party and Malcolm X during the anti racism event “Marche de la Dignité” in Paris.

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