The Asheville School's Voice

More Than MLK

"Cultural nationalists and Black Panthers are in conflict in many areas. Basically, cultural nationalism sees the white man as the oppressor and makes no distinction between racist whites and non-racist whites, as the Panthers do. The cultural nationalists say that a Black man cannot be the enemy of the Black people, while the Panthers believe that Black capitalists are exploiters and oppressors. Although the Black Panther Party believes in Black nationalism and Black culture, it does not believe that either will lead to Black liberation or the overthrow of the capitalist system, and are therefore ineffective." -Bobby Seale

March 31, 2018

A revolutionary socialist organization, the Black Panther Party was started by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in October 1966. Prior to meeting each other as students at Merritt College, Huey Newton studied at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Newton’s vast knowledge on laws and court rulings proved to be one of his most useful assets as a leader of the Black Panther Party. When police brutality against African-Americans exacerbated and became more prevalent in the late sixties, the Black Panther Party started to patrol police officers to monitor police violence. Huey Newton defended their right to bear arms and refuted viable arrest for observing police interactions, using his knowledge gained from law school. On one occasion, when Black Panther Party members were watching another African-African’s arrest, Newton recited laws and court rulings relevant to their predicament when police officers tried to intimidate the members present. Bobby Seale stated that the purpose of the Black Panther Party was not to carrying guns when he proclaimed that the party was “about empowering the black community in the face of a racist system.” In addition to protecting their communities under siege by police forces, The Black Panther Parties across the United States served their people by creating free lunch programs and health clinics. Using their skills to organize large groups of activists, parties would receive donations from local businesses. Businesses which refused to donate food would become disreputable in their communities – resulting in boycotts. As the Black Panther Party gained influence across the United States as an organization empowering African-Americans, FBI investigations followed a linear correlation. Counter Intelligence Programs targeting revolutionaries in the organization intensified in the late 60s. In Chicago, food provisions for free lunch programs were burned. During a raid in 1968, the party’s first member Bobby Hutton was shot in the head by police when he exited a building with his hands up. In 1969, twenty-five Black Panther members were killed. One of the twenty-five was Fred Hampton – a member of the Black Panthers who was assassinated while sleeping next to his pregnant girlfriend in his apartment. Although many factors lead to the deconstruction of the Black Panther Party, killing off their leaders had one of the greatest impacts on the organization. Without a head, a body will die regardless of how healthy it was prior its decapitation.

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