Comrades: A Local History of the Black Panther Party

Comrades: A Local History of the Black Panther Party

Comrades: A Local History of the Black Panther Party

Comrades: A Local History of the Black Panther Party

Synopsis

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in Oakland, California, in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. It was perhaps the most visible of the Black Power groups in the late 60s and early 70s, not least because of its confrontational politics, its rejection of nonviolence, and its headline-catching, gun-toting militancy. Important on the national scene and highly visible on college campuses, the Panthers also worked at building grassroots support for local black political and economic power. Although there have been many books about the Black Panthers, none has looked at the organization and its work at the local level. This book examines the work and actions of seven local initiatives in Baltimore, Winston-Salem, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. These local organizations are revealed as committed to programs of community activism that focused on problems of social, political, and economic justice.

Excerpt

Introduction
Painting a More Complete Portrait
of the Black Panther Party

Judson L. Jeffries and Ryan Nissim-Sabat

The Black Panther Party (BPP) was different than any other radical group of its era. The BPP was not merely an organization; it was a cultural happening. Panther posters donned the walls of left-wing activists and radical thinkers all over the world, and their buttons were worn by activists in France, Sweden, China, and Israel, among other places. Although whites were not allowed to join the BPP, white supporters, sympathizers, and hangerson were substantial in number. When Huey P. Newton was arrested for the murder of a police officer, the Party’s legend appeared to grow exponentially. Released in 1970 after serving nearly three years in prison, Newton was greeted by hundreds of cheering and adoring onlookers, many of whom were white. The memoirs, newsletters, and interviews of activists around the world bear testimony to the Party’s transatlantic impact. The BPP was not a mere organization, but a movement—the likes of which has not been witnessed since.

The first glimpse the country got of the Panthers was in May 1967 when the group staged its dramatic protest at the statehouse in Sacramento . . .

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