United States

The Panthers

Have you ever heard of the black panthers….no not the marvel super hero, the post civil rights movement African American organization that was willing to arm themselves to defend themselves against police and overall oppression. These people were not willing to conform to the status quo even after the improvements made by the civil rights movement. Although the Black Panther party was a product of the civil rights movement lead by King it was different in its ideology and its methods and shared similarities to Malcolm X’s more violent philosophies.    

The civil rights movement was a fight for social injustices that took place primarily in the 1950’s and 1960’s. African Americans were fighting to gain the same equal rights as their white peers. Even Though the Civil War eradicated slavery back in 1865 African Americans endured devastating acts of discrimination and racism especially in the south. With the 14th amendment being passed giving blacks equal protection under the law and the 15th amendment being passed which gave African Americans the right to vote many whites were disgruntled at the fact that the people that once were slaves now are on a more level playing field. Jim Crow laws were established in the south in the late 19th century in order to minimize African Americans and keep them separated from whites. African Americans were unable to go to the same school or even use the same public bathrooms or drinking fountains. “Interracial marriage was illegal, and most African Americans couldn’t vote because they were unable to pass voter literacy tests”(History). African Americans along with many whites were tired of all the violence and prejudice. They banded together and began a revolutionary fight for equality, a fight that went on for two decades. In addition the fight for civil rights an organization known as the Black Panther  party came to be. This group was founded in 1966 by bobby Seale and Huey Newton. Their goal was to challenge the rampant police brutality against the African American community. The members, dressed in black leather jackets and berets organized armed patrols of U.S cities.

The Black Panther Party, shared a very different ideology than that of Martin luther king jr and the overall civil rights movement. The BPP stated that “we are Marxist-Leninists, we mean that we have studied and understood the classical principles of scientific socialism and that we have adapted these principles to our own situation for ourselves”(Cleaver). The BPP could be described as a sort of predecessor to the civil Rights movement, because the civil rights movement fought for basic human rights for African Americans while the BBP pushed for a change in the overall structure in society as shown in there “Marxist-Leninists” views . This ideology could be further simplified to the control of local social institutions by the BPP “ALL power to the people”(Cleaver). The main ideology of the BPP is the change of power from the powerful White centered institutions and governments to the common people and in there case the African American community. The ideology is fueled by the continued mistreatment of there specific community.

The BPPs methods of accomplishing social change and reconstruction was very different than the tactics used during the early civil rights movement. “The Second Amendment is about the right to bear arms, and that is what they did. This would lead to another motto “Power flows through the barrel of a gun”(White).The BPP took advantage of there right to own a gun and used this as more of a self defense deterrent. This new method of change gave the BPP a sort of power and presence that was never found in the more docile and passive civil rights movement. Another one of there tactics was to  “attempt to be law abiding citizens ”(White). This was critical to accomplish any amount of success because it made it very difficult to paint the BPP as a criminal or even terrorist organization by the prominent media and government sources. This also would insure that the party itself could not be disbanded by due process.

In the time period of the Black Panther Party this group helped the black community rediscover their identity and gave them independence. Though the civil rights movement was successful, this  extensive approach of the BPP was much needed in the emancipation of blacks. This movement unified people all across America and gave successful initiatives to the disadvantaged black people. The Black Panther Party helped in creating social justice and providing an example on how to combat social injustice. The social injustice present in our  society today and possibly in the future should be fought with ideals similar to the ones used by the Black Panther Party.

Article by Hank Sanford & Video by Connor King

Works Cited

White, Matthew D. “The Methods and Strategies of the Black Panther Party

Jhonson C. Smith University, 11 Aug. 2002. Digital Smith, file:///C:/Users/ Hank%20Sanford/Downloads/Methods_and_strategies_of_the_Black_Panther_Party_in_their_attempt_to_be_lawabiding.pdf. Accessed 22 Mar. 2018. Working paper.

Cleaver, Eldrigde. On the Ideology Of the Black Panther Party. https://www.freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/Black%20Liberation%20Disk/Black%20Power!/SugahData/Books/Cleaver.S.pdf

History.com Staff. “Civil Rights Movement.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-movement.


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