The Black Panther Party:Forever Prowling

For many years, Americans worked very hard to grant liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness to all mankind. After the Civil War, slavery was abolished, but was that the same as the abolishment of segregating and oppression for blacks? Some famous leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X spent their lives trying to bring protection of the black people from continuing racism.

After many years of cowering in silence and discrimination, on October of 1966, Huey Newton gathered some of friends, including Bobby Seale and David Hilliard, and started the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. This organization soon gained the reputation of being "the single most internal threat to the security of the United States". However, the original motives of this organization were the serve the needs of the people and defend them against their oppressors, and claiming to resort to revolution as an option.

The BPP was an organization set up to serve, educate, defend, and motivate the oppressed people of the United States at a time not only of oppression, but repression. They wanted to be the voice of the people, to advocate the people’s interests and needs through action. They wanted to become a political vehiclefor the people, especially what they termed the "lumpenproletariat", who never had such an organization to represent their interests before. The lumpenproletariat were the oppressed Black workers in America who were either jobless, unable to get a job, or had a job but were earning unreasonably low wages. The BPP gave a rise to black nationalism as they demanded change.

The BPP was an organization following mostly communist ideas. In Communism, Marx, its founder, believed that society was run by money. He believed that a capitalist society would be divided between the employers and employees, and that the former group would, as is natural in a capitalist system, try to outcompete each other and thin the ranks of the wealthy employers. They would then try to squeeze as much money out of the employees as possible, oppressing them so much that the employees would revolt. The revolt would lead to the setting up of an ideal government, where everyone would be equal. The BPP's aim was just that. Their goal was to get the proletariat, the poor working class of America, to revolt, and it is important to note that they also included oppressed whites and working class people of other races. In particular though, the BPP was reaching out especially to poor blacks, and to the lumpenproleteriate, the "underemployed, unemployed, unemployable." Although according to Marx these people were not important, the BPP deviated from his teachings in this one aspect, feeling that, if these people were agitated they would be very strong force in America. The BPP's free breakfast program and other programs for instance, were actually meant to highlight to the poor people who would use the programs, the contrast between the "wealthy whites" and themselves, to help instigate anger.

However, although the BPP aimed for revolution, their first priority was to serve the needs of the people. They developed programs, some of which were the Free Breakfast Program, the Free Health Clinic, the Clothing and Shoe Program, and the Buses to Prisons Program. (for a complete list see here. Outside link.)

Another aspect of the repressive times that the BPP tried to make the public aware of was the idea of "majority dominating over minority"in America, changing people's perspectives on America's "democracy" of the time. The BPP related this majority rule to fascism, an early type of oppressive government in Europe. They believed that even though all people in America, including blacks, have the right to vote, if the majority is against the minority blacks, then their interests and opinions are never met. The government said, "It's rule by majority, but the rights of the minority are protected". This, however, had been violated many times. When blacks were put into slavery by majority vote, democracy failed them; they’re rights were not protected, but in fact taken away from them. More recently, the Jim Crow laws forced Blacks into having a lower status than the whites because of this idea of 'majority dominating over minority', and they had no real say against it.

Expressing the wants and needs of the people, in October of 1966, the BPP created a rough Ten Point Platform and Program, called "What We Want, What We Believe," and which was made more detailed in the March of 1972 platform. This platform was very significant because it demanded change; it demanded the end of oppression, and promoted self-defense and the reach for equality.

The Black Panther Party, in their black emblems and black leather jackets, was a ground shaking force in the 1960s. However, because of their potential strength, FBI and police were often on their case. They were ordered to, if necessary, resort to "hard-hitting counter-intelligence measures to cripple the Black Panthers". The Black Panthers faded around the 1980s, but nevertheless, the Panther still lives. Up until now, many members of the BPP are still fighting for and spreading awareness of what they believe in.