Fifty years on, the Black Panthers should be honoured, not in prison | Ceasefire Magazine – On October 15th 1966, the Black Panthers movement was born. After pain-staking study of local California gun laws, the Black Panthers began a system of armed police-monitoring patrols, in order to protect the community from their brutality. To quote one of its progenitors, Bobby Seale, “we’ll protect a mother, protect a brother, and protect the community from the racist cops.”
One of the movement’s founders, Huey P Newton, a fiercely intelligent and politically astute law graduate, recognised that he could channel and organise the ‘rage of the ghetto’ as a force to protect the American black community from the police.
The Panthers articulated a 10-point programme demanding, among other things, ‘land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.’ They went on to become a national organisation with chapters in over 40 American states, and support groups all over the world. They were perhaps best known for their community survival programmes, one of which provided a mix of free breakfast for kids, with classes on history, self-knowledge and community organising.
Unlike other Black Power and Civil Rights movements, which often deified one or two individuals, the Panthers had many well-known organisers, such as Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Kathleen and Elridge Cleaver, Stokley Carmichael, Erica Huggins, Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton, Elaine Brown as well as notable supporters, including Angela Davis.