The Black Panthers

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  • The Black Panthers
    • Orgins and aims
      • Founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale
      • Excluded whites and was prepared to use violence to revolutionise the USA
      • Inspired by Malcom X - stressed self defence and economic improvements which were also what Malcom X emphasised
      • BPP organised their own uniformed militia to patrol the ghettos and rejected the police: "off the pigs!"
        • This was because Newton claimed the white police "occupied" the black ghettos in the same way the US Army occupied Vietnam
      • Organised welfare schemes and demanded federal government aid to relieve poverty in the black ghettos
    • Ideology
      • Black nationalism - inspired by Malcom X, particular emphasis on the racism of white police and the unfairness of the justice system
      • Anti-colonialism - called on blacks not to fight in Vietnam and admired anti-colonial liberation struggles in Africa and Asia - including Mao Zedong's expulsion of foreign influence from China
      • Marxism - main aim was to liberate the black working class from exploitation by white capitalists
    • Methods
      • "Patrol the pigs" - shadowing police patrols to observe any arrest by police of a black person - find legal grounds to challenge the arrest
      • The "Free Huey" campaign after Newton was arrested on a false murder charge in 1967
      • The Free Breakfast for Schoolchildren Programme - supported by black celebrities e.g. Richard Pryor and Jimi Hendrix
      • Free health clinics offering tests for conditions which predominantly affect blacks e.g. sickle cell anaemia
      • "Liberation Schools" teaching black history and culture
    • Official Persecution and the Decline of the Black Panthers
      • Federal government was suspicious of the BPP, especially the FBI which feared they would lead black people into a violent revolution to overthrow the US government
        • FBI used telephone tapping, bugging the homes of BPP members, arrests and infiltration  to undermine the BPP - even forged letters from the BPP threatening to murder senior government officials
      • FBI succeeded in discrediting the BPP and the leaders were arrested so often that money was diverted away from welfare programmes to pay their legal expenses
      • Internal dispute between Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver who stood for President in 1968 and got 0.15% of the vote

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