The Black Panther Party was birthed in Oakland, Ca. to become the fiercest African-American armed opposition movement this country has ever known. In Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, writers Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. describe the destabilizing influence the Black Panthers had on the American empire.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr. was slain on April 4, 1968 while Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21st 1965. According to the authors, the assassinations influenced people who became followers of the Panthers. Here are 7 interesting facts about the Panthers you may not have known.
1.) After his death, Malcolm X became a symbol of defiance for activists and revolutionaries who were searching for economic and political power. This explains the transition from a nonviolent resistance to Jim Crow to the armed self-defense made famous by the Panthers.
2.) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death also influenced nonviolent protesters who had previously felt the nonviolent approach to black poverty and police brutality might work.
Dr. King was their last hope and to see him slain so violently guided his supporters away from nonviolence as an effective strategy. After King and Malcolm X were killed, people began moving toward other models.
3.) The Black Panther Party wasn’t just a struggle against the oppression of African-Americans in this country, but an attempt to tie what was happening to African-Americans to a much broader struggle against imperialism. The Panthers had strong relations with other movements in this country as well, including parts of the women’s and Chicano movements, among others.
4.) International relationships were so strong between the Panthers and governments abroad that the North Vietnamese offered to exchange the release of POWs for the release of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton from prison.
Blacks Against Empire: On the North Vietnamese Offering to Release American POWs in Exchange for Bobby Seale and Huey NewtonClick to tweet
5.) The Black Panther newspaper featured international events from their own perspective.
6.) J. Edgar Hoover was concerned about armed resistance and the containment policing strategies that responded to black oppression with force. With the Panthers, Hoover saw an effective effort to disrupt brutalization by the police.
The federal government was also concerned about the Panthers’ social programs since they helped build legitimacy among rank and file African-Americans as well as organization like the NAACP and Urban League. Even non-black anti-war whites and non-radicals were becoming supportive of the Panthers.
7.) The reason we don’t have nearly as many all white police forces in black neighborhoods can be traced back to the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party was also a key element of an alliance to push for anti-war resistance.