the black panthers party

USA. California. Oakland. 1971. Mojo mows the lawn as Black Panthers (and Mojo’s dog) stand in the yard of the Black Panther National Headquarters. 1048 Peralta Street, West Oakland.

The Black Panther Party was one of the most influential responses to racism and inequality in American history. The Panthers advocated armed self-defence to counter police brutality, and initiated a program of patrolling the police with guns and law books. Their enduring legacy is their programs, like Free Breakfast for Children, which helped to inspire a national movement of community organising for economic independence, education, nutrition, and health care. Seale believed that “no kid should be running around hungry in school,” a simple credo that lead FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to call the breakfast program, “the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralise the BPP and destroy what it stands for.”

Photograph: Stephen Shames/Polaris

Assata Shakur once said: if ever there was a decision between armed struggle and social programs (like free grocery programs, free health and education programs, free communal/local crime prevention programs etc), a revolutionary movement should always choose the social program approach.

Social programs represent an experimental view of the world we all strive for whereas an armed insurrection in the immediate present wouldn’t.

This isn’t to say that violence is completely barred – especially in terms of action and self defense against fascists, criminals, injustice, oppression, etc – in the mean time; only that a revolutionary movement shouldn’t put all of its efforts being armed to the teeth, ready to mobilize, and start destroying the state and capitalism at the drop of a hat when they can spend their time investing in social projects for the people’s immediate benefit while spreading ideals, goals, and principles for now and the future.

Armed struggle is an inescapable consequence for any revolutionary movement, however the result would be always be failure if the people don’t know what they’re fighting for and if they solely rely on the well-read militants for deciding what’s right and wrong.

A small movement that can’t defend itself but can understand itself is a seed that can grow; but a movement that can defend itself with no self understanding is a hollow shell.

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Remembering the Black Panther Party

They stood up to police brutality and fed poor kids. They were hated by the FBI.

They were unfairly demonized by our “democratic” government and preyed on by law “enforcement”, and sent to jail for trumped up (no pun intended) charges.

2017 and we are still fighting the same fight!

Not much has changed. They still stand watch over their communities. A person might not know it. But they are there and strong. They have passed the torch on to their children and grandchildren and I am grateful they are there. .

USA. California. Berkeley. 1971. Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton hugs Central Committee member Elaine Brown at his house shortly after his release from prison on August 5, 1970. Brown later became chairman of the Panthers.

Photograph: Stephen Shame/Polaris

Members of the Ku Klux Klan hide their identity because they don’t want people to know that they are people who have roles in your societal life such as doctors, police, or politicians. Only somebody guilty or coward would hide their identity. The Black Panther Party showed their faces while taking actions. They knew that there is nothing to hide if you’re standing for justice and protecting your people.

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Happy Blackout!!! The top photo is in honor of the  50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party of Self Defense. The last picture was taken at the opening of the African American of History and Culture’s opening where Public Enemy, Living Colour, and The Roots performed. (Jacket by Reformed School). (Photo creds in order : @jamesjuly@36chambersof-oldirtybae, Paul Holston) (also I wear the jacket more for historical relevance than for gender)

USA. California. Oakland. September 29, 1968. A Huey poster in the window of the Panther national headquarters shot up by the police following his murder trial acquittal. The Panther National headquarters at Grove and 45th Street was attacked in the middle of the night by two Oakland policemen following a not guilty verdict for Huey Newton in his first degree murder trial.

Photograph: Stephen Shames/Polaris

USA. California. San Francisco. 1969. The Panthers also ran a number of social service programs in cities across the country, including free breakfasts for students, health clinics and schools. Here, students give the black power salute at a “liberation school".

Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

‘The Black Panther Party - Speech by John Hulett / Interview with Stokely Carmichael / Report from Lowndes County’, Socialist Workers Party, United States, 1966.
This pamphlet is about the first Black Panther Party in Lowndes County, Alabama that inspired the more well known BPP to form in Oakland, California.

Blacks often get labeled as drug dealers since they make up majority of the prison population. People often tell blacks that they’d stop getting incarcerated if they’d stop selling drugs. Research shows that more whites sell illegal drugs than blacks, yet, blacks are arrested more often. That’s something many blacks should bring up.

Another thing to remember is that blacks aren’t the real drug dealers. Illegal drugs arrived in the black communities through President Reagan and the CIA to fund the war in Nicaragua. It was also to end activity by the Black Panther Party. How ridiculous is a president selling a dangerous drug to his country to battle another country? When people say blacks are true drug dealers, remind them of Reagan and the CIA. Think of the amount of drugs it takes to fund a war.

The Black Panther Breakfast Programs

Every spring semester the University Library System (ULS), in collaboration with Pitt’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), award ten students with the Archival Scholars Research Award (ASRA). This semester, seven of those students are working in Special Collections. Each month, we ask the scholars to submit blog posts demonstrating the discoveries they are making. Enjoy! 


The cover of the 4/27/1969 publication of The Black Panther

The activism of the Black Panther Party (BPP) is commonly viewed as innately violent and antagonistic, but they had a number of social programs and fundraisers that were aimed at uplifting the most vulnerable of their community. One of their most popular programs served breakfast to children before school, many of whom would have otherwise gone without food due to social or economic factors. The BPP were staunch believers in education as a necessary component of liberation, and ensuring that the children were able to focus and engage in their studies was of critical importance.

Photographs taken at one of the breakfast programs, as included in the 4/27/1969 edition of The Black Panther.

The Black Panther newspapers often mention these breakfast programs, noting how many were served or who was responsible for the food preparation, and occasionally publicizing that one had been subject to a police raid. They were events that allowed the community to unify for a singular purpose, and though peaceful and meaningful, local police departments often stormed the buildings that hosted the programs in an attempt to find something incriminating.

-Maureen Jones, Archival Scholars Research Awardee ‘17

Alright liberals. If it is ok to assault Nazis for their words, then I assume it is ok to assault Black Panther Party members for their's as well.

Correct? You all agree?