Black Panther Party

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The Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was an African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from the mid-1960s into the 1970s. The Black Panther Party achieved national and international impact through their deep involvement in the Black Power movement and in US politics of the 1960s and 70s, as the intense anti-racism of the time is today considered one of the most significant social, political and cultural currents in US history. The group's "provocative rhetoric, militant posture, and cultural and political flourishes permanently altered the contours of American Identity."[1]

Founded in Oakland, California, by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton on October 15, 1966, the organization initially set forth a doctrine calling primarily for the protection of African American neighborhoods from police brutality.[2] But the Black Panther Party's objectives and philosophy expanded and evolved rapidly during the party's existence. The organization's leaders passionately espoused socialist and communist (largely Maoist) doctrines, but the Party's black nationalist reputation attracted an ideologically diverse membership.[3] Ideological consensus within the party was difficult to achieve, and some prominent members openly disagreed with the views of the leaders.

The organization's official newspaper, The Black Panther, was first circulated in 1967. Also that year, the Black Panther Party marched on the California State Capitol in Sacramento in protest of a selective ban on weapons. By 1968, the party had expanded into many cities throughout the United States, including New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, San Diego, Denver, Newark, New York City, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Omaha. Membership reached 5,000 and their newspaper, under the editorial leadership of Eldridge Cleaver, had a circulation of 250,000.[4] The group created a Ten-Point Program, a document that called for "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace", as well as exemption from conscription for African-American men, among other demands.[5] With the Ten-Point program, “What We Want, What We Believe”, the Black Panther Party captured in uncompromising language the collective economic and political grievances articulated by black radicals and many black liberals since the 1930s.[6]

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