We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by Mumia

Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:19 am

CHAPTER EIGHT: A Panther's Life

Indeed, we are all -- Black and white alike -- ill in the same way, mortally ill. But before we die, how shall we live? I say with hope and dignity; and if premature death is a result, that death has a meaning reactionary suicide can never have. It is the price of self-respect.

Revolutionary suicide does not mean that I and my comrades have a death wish; it means just the opposite. We have such a strong desire to live with hope and human dignity that existence without them is impossible. When reactionary forces crush us, we must move against these forces, even at the risk of death. We will have to be driven out with a stick ....

-- Huey P. Newton [1]

TENS OF THOUSANDS of ghetto souls came into contact with the Party daily. Elementary school students attended the morning breakfast programs, adult poor came for the free clothing and free shoes programs, the ill came to the Party's People's Medical Centers across the nation for sickle cell anemia testing, and treatment for high-blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, and other fairly simple ailments. To this number must be added those many people who bought the Party's newspaper, The Black Panther, on ghetto street corners, in bars, in beauty parlors, and outside high schools.

Who were these people called Black Panthers?

Much has been written about Party leadership, its so-called stars: the photogenic Newton, the charismatic (Eldridge) and brilliant (Kathleen) Cleavers, the ambitious and talented Elaine Brown, the long-suffering Geronimo, and the like. As leaders, many of these people formed the Party's public profile and came to typify a Black Panther in much of the public mind.

Most people, indeed most Panthers, never came into intimate contact with such people, for they usually traveled in rarefied, higher strata than did the average Panther.

The average young man or woman in the Black Panther Party was between seventeen and twenty-two years old, lived in a collective home with other Panthers, worked long and hard days (and sometimes nights) doing necessary Party work without pay, and owned nothing. Except to their neighbors, and, of course, the ubiquitous police (and their snitches), most Panthers lived in relative obscurity and rarely, if ever, got their picture in the paper (in either the bourgeois press or the Party press). Friends, comrades, and lovers were primarily other Party members.

With very little exception, other than the folks who participated in the various programs, most Panthers spent every waking hour with other Panthers. The people looked up to and admired were the leadership, but close, loving relationships, of true care and concern, were with fellow Panthers. They were our confidants, our counselors, our comrades -- those we could be easy and relaxed around.

The average Panther rose at dawn and retired at dusk and did whatever job needed to be done to keep the programs going for the people, from brothers and sisters cooking breakfast for the school kids, to going door-to-door to gather signatures for petitions, to gathering clothes for the free clothing program, to procuring donated supplies from neighboring merchants.

The average Panther's life was long, hard, and filled with work.

A Philadelphia-born member of the Oakland branch was struck by the deep poverty she found among Party members in West Oakland:

Many of the brothers were hunters so they cut up the deer meat in the back of the office. I almost fainted. The Panther men in particular laughed at my reaction, but after it was cooked, I refused to eat the meat. Knowing that I was very hungry, some of them chased me around the office and playfully urged me to sample the spicy scented deer. Ironically, as we fed hungry children breakfast, and later gave out bags of groceries to the poor, oftentimes Panthers themselves had little food and certainly little money. We lived mostly off paper sales. We sold each Panther paper for twenty-five cents and kept ten cents for ourselves. [2]

While that division of the paper sales money may have been the case for her chapter, it differed in other places. In some chapters, where Panther members lived communally and ate Party dinners, it was argued that the additional dime should be donated to the office, for the Party met all of the essential needs of its fulltime members. That was certainly the case for the Philadelphia office.

People could be affiliated with the Party in the following ways:

Party supporter: This person might buy a paper or attend a rally organized by the Party, but was not a member.

Community worker: This person might donate time to Party efforts, as some non-Panthers would assist in the breakfast program, for example, or assist the Party in administering Party programs. Often, this person would be unable to secure parental permission to formally join the Party, but would help in some form; as students who sold the paper at their school, for example.

Panther-in-training (PIT): These were probationary members, who were expected to memorize the 10-Point Program and Platform; they were expected to obtain a copy of the Red Book by Mao Tse-Tung and to learn from it the Three Main Rules of Discipline and to memorize them. These PITs would also be required to attend a given number of Political Education (PE) classes, to learn more about the Party. If a PIT failed to attend required PE classes, he or she would be counseled and if unresponsive, could be dropped from consideration for full membership.

Black Panther: These persons were expected to use any and all of their skills or expertise to help build and protect the organization and further its aims and objectives as determined by local, regional, and national leadership. They were traditionally full-time Party operatives, who spent virtually seven days a week conducting Party business.

Being a Black Panther, for many members, was never a single thing; indeed, it was many things, at different times, in different places. Panthers were taught to eschew what was called careerism and to shun compartmentalist thinking. This meant that one should not perceive any given rank as one's own, nor to look at things from a narrow, linear perspective, but from a broad one, asking, "What is in the best interest of the Party?" Individualism, like careerism, was seen as a negative, bourgeois trait that was criticized. The highest achievement was for a brother or sister to think in collectivist terms, as in we not 1.

This way of thinking fostered humility, self-sacrifice, and discipline in Party ranks. It promoted the best interests of the collective, rather than arrogance and egotism, which threatened cohesion and working relationships.

In this environment, the Party became the central focus in the lives of thousands of Panthers across the nation, and an extraordinary morale and sense of unity of purpose were engendered. Thus, there were few things more exciting than meeting a fellow Panther from another part of the country.

Although there is considerable linguistic diversity in Black America, these regional forms of speech did not divide Panthers, but acted as bonds of affection between brothers and sisters. The deep, southern drawls of our North Carolinian or Virginian comrades drew smiles from Pennsylvanians or New Yorkers in the Party. Similarly, when we met Panthers from New Haven or Boston who wanted to drive a "cah" to the "bah," we found ourselves rolling on the ground, giddy with laughter, and really with a kind of amazement that Black people -- Black Panthers -- really talked like that. In many of these informal settings, Panthers learned from other Panthers how life was lived in different parts of this vast nation.

That joy, however, was tempered by gritty moments of terror. The slaughters of the sleeping Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a Panther pad in Chicago on December 4, 1969, had sent a disturbing message to Panthers all across the nation: we will kill you in your sleep with impunity.

Some chapters had more intense relationships with the police than others, with the aggressive Los Angeles chapter finding an equally aggressive adversary in the Los Angeles Police Department. Panthers trying to sell papers, an action allegedly protected by the First Amendment, learned otherwise in the wilds of LA when met by members of the LAPD. In 1968, a sixteen-year-old Panther named Flores Forbes:

was stopped by the LAPD while selling Black Panther newspapers almost every single day. The cops insulted me, beat me, and, usually, dislodged my papers from under my arm, causing them to fly all over the streets of South Central Los Angeles. Even when I invoked the principles and guidelines of the Pocket Lawyer of Legal First Aid, the cops would bristle. "Nigger, you, your mama, and them other Black motherfuckers in the country have no constitutional rights that we recognize." [3]

How can one claim that the infamous Dred Scott opinion is truly ancient history and not the ever-present law of the land?

Forbes had an extraordinary career in the Party, one that lasted almost a decade and that took him from LA to the Party headquarters in northern California, to the homes of the highest ranked members of the organization. He rose from a rank-and-file member who sold Panther papers seven days a week and served free breakfasts to school kids, to Officer of the Day (OD) of both the LA office and, later, the San Francisco office. He was assigned to the Ministry of Information and worked as a community news reporter; he later served as Assistant Chief of Staff of the entire Party in 1974.

Now an urban planner and scholar, Forbes has written what may be the most remarkable, certainly the most detailed, and chilling account of a raid on a Black Panther office ever yet published in the non-BPP press. As a contributor to the anthology Police Brutality, he does not fall into the easy trap of macho posturing, but freely reports his moments of high anxiety and even fear while the office was under siege -- an unexpected, unprovoked attack that came about a year and a half after the infamous LAPD paramilitary assault on another LA Panther office on December 8, 1969.

In Forbes's account, the late September day in 1971 was unremarkable. The office was filling with members returning from selling BPP newspapers. The OD, Sheldon Jones, left his desk to perform a security check of the premises and the surrounding area. The residential building was an office to be sure, but largely indistinguishable from the single family, detached, three bedroom homes in this South Central neighborhood.

What set the house apart, however, was a bright, powder blue and black sign erected in the front yard designating the site as the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party. What also distinguished the home was that it was prepared for war. In a bedroom, off to the side, a locked cabinet stood, stocked with riot pump shotguns, an AR-180, and a number of handguns. Its walls were packed with earth, and trenches lined the four sides of the house. Gun ports were placed discreetly at eight locations and an "eagle's nest," installed by a Vietnam veteran named Simba, sat in the attic. Forbes writes:

We had been "tunneling for freedom" for the past two months. We dug straight down through the floor of a closet in one of our bedrooms for about ten feet and then hollowed out an area, like a vestibule that had two tunnels heading in different directions .... Each of the tunnels went directly to an exit under our neighbors' homes .... [4]

Forbes further explained that as the OD made his daily rounds of the property he was seized and surrounded by six to eight cops, who trained their weapons on him and disarmed him. A Panther sister inside witnessed Jones's seizure and alerted the others:

I started to hear the pounding of feet and the jingling of keys on the right side of the office. The police were outflanking us and taking up positions in our neighbor's yard. I could also hear the heavy engines from LAPD squad cars roaring through the alley. They literally shook the house. I noticed, as had everyone else, that the police in the front street were positioning themselves behind their cars with revolvers and riot shotguns ... [I] was somewhat alarmed at the speed with which everything unfolded and the precision displayed by this group of cops. I asked myself a very personal question, "Was this it?" [5]

The Panthers reported to their Defense Captain, who unlocked the gun cabinet and distributed weapons to disciplined Panthers standing in line. He also checked to see if every Panther knew his proper defensive position, to which each promptly reported.

Forbes was assigned to the trenches, in the northeast corridor, a hot, dirty, and dusty area:

I started to sweat profusely. Nevertheless, I loaded the shotgun, chambering the last round -- a rifled slug. I set my bandolier down in the dirt and waited, still sweating. From my vantage point, I could see our front yard, grass level. I removed the screen from my gun port, exposing the wire mesh that remained to protect me from tear gas canisters. I put the barrel of my shotgun near, but not completely out of, the gun port. Everything got quiet in the office, which made me believe we were all in position and ready to defend ourselves. To me at that moment, this was what it was all about: taking a stand and letting the state know that somewhere in our community a group of people were prepared to fight and die, if necessary.

The house started to rattle. The trees in our yard and across the street started to swirl. The once still grass began to flutter. It was the LAPD's chopper descending slowly and then drawing to a hover over the office. In the street outside the office and over the sound of the chopper, I could hear hundreds of our neighbors shouting and yelling at the police, who had once more invaded our community as if they were an occupying army in a foreign land. [6]

For about a half hour, both sides remained armed and waiting for action, nerves a-jangle with tension. That day, however, it did not come.

The cops pulled back, and before long the order to stand down was given. Panthers climbed up from the dark, dusty tunnels, turned in their weapons to their captain, and lived to fight another day.

According to Forbes, such faux attacks occurred weekly or biweekly in the LA area.

At first blush, it would seem like the LAPD staged dry runs to keep Panthers off-balance or to give their personnel on-site training for real raids to come. But as Forbes explains, these raids had a draining effect on the Party. A week after the raid four Panthers deserted. The LAPD managed to hurt the LA chapter without firing a single shot.

The infamous raid of December 8, 1969, on the chapter's former headquarters on LA's Central Avenue featured the first time that an American police department utilized a Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit. For six long, harrowing hours, LA Panthers and the LAPD traded gunfire.

The LA chapter was led and defended by the legendary Geronimo ji-Jaga, who fortified the headquarters and set up defensive positions. Ji-Jaga [ne Pratt] drew on lessons learned while fighting for the Empire in Vietnam. Upon his return, he was drafted into the Black Panther Party and served as Deputy Minister of Defense of the Southern California Chapter. Miraculously, because of the office's defensive preparations no one died from the December 8 police assault. Two Panthers and two cops were wounded.

Ironically, the Panthers suffered most when the public and media showed up and they surrendered to the police. Many, both men and women, were brutally beaten by the cops. The cops had their special targets of vengeance, like Paul Redd, the chapter's youthful Deputy Minister of Culture, a gifted artist whose work earned the praise of those who saw it in the national Black Panther newspaper and regional party publications. It earned him as well the enmity of the State. When he was arrested and his name learned, the members of the LAPD brutally broke the fIngers of his right hand. Undaunted, Redd learned to draft art with his left.

Though some left the Party, many Panthers withstood the attempted intimidations and State terrorism that was trained on Black revolutionaries for a very simple reason. Many had harsh memories of police violence or indignities that predated their membership in the Party. They therefore reasoned that the vicious, brutal behavior would not ease if they left the Party, but might in fact worsen if the Party didn't exist, and could not openly oppose it.

When Forbes reflected on his earliest childhood memories, they are marred by his contact with racist cops. As a twelve-year-old boy, riding around his neighborhood on a bike, Forbes was picked up by two white cops and ordered to get into the black and white. He was terrified and did as he was told:

They drove me up the hill on Market Street toward San Diego. After a ten or fifteen-minute ride, they pulled into a residential area just short of downtown and drove up to several other police officers and a young White couple. The car stopped, and the cop on the passenger side got out and walked over to the group of people. After a few brief words, which T could not hear, the officer pointed toward me sitting in the back seat, explaining something to them as he pointed. The cop and the couple walked over to the car and peered in. By this time my entire body was shaking with fear. All I could think about was going home and never riding my bike again. The couple looked at each other and spoke a few more words I couldn't hear (they never rolled the window down). The White man stood back from the window, shaking his head from side to side. He then took his woman by the hand and walked back toward the six or so policemen and they huddled again. The policeman returned to the car. They drove me back to Forty-Seventh Street and pulled into the parking lot where I had been kidnapped.

A huge crowd had gathered in the parking lot, and standing in the center was my mother. The policeman stopped, got out, went around to open the trunk and got my bike, while the other cop opened the back door to let me out. Man was I glad! My mother, with the crowd of neighbors in tow, approached the cop asking, "What are you doing with Flores? Did he do anything wrong?"

The cop who had my bike told my mother, "Back away bitch, this is official police business." [7]

Forbes saw a rage in his mother's face that he never saw before. That fear and rage was doubtless a factor in Forbes's decision some four years later to join the Black Panther Party.

A Philadelphia Story

Philadelphia, with its vast Black population, was a rich recruitment pool and a responsive propagation ground for the Black Panther Party.

We were gifted with a smart, levelheaded defense captain, Reggie Schell, and the over-the-top presence of the late Frank Rizzo as a political adversary. Most of the members were of high school-graduate age, with a smattering of military veterans among the officers and senior members.

Rizzo, as police commissioner in the 1970s and later mayor of Philadelphia, was an ambitious politician who knew well the value of appealing directly to white ethnics by engaging in repressive tactics against Black citizens. In one of his mayoral campaigns, he urged his supporters to "vote white." Members of the Party could always count on Rizzo to do, or say, something provocative and controversial, which would rebound to the organization's benefit.

Despite the ever-present repression, the police harassments, and the arrests, the city's chapter blossomed as Black youth flocked to the offices to join the Party. We had Panther supporters in most of the city high schools, selling and sharing the newspapers. By fall 1970, we fed kids in four sites throughout the city; across from the main office in North Philadelphia on Columbia Avenue in a storefront next to a supermarket; in West Philadelphia, in a church near Party headquarters; in Germantown; and in a community center in South Philadelphia. Soon, another center would open on Susquehanna Avenue, the second in North Philadelphia.

Hundreds of children were fed well, thanks to their elders in the Black Panther Party.

For most Panthers, the day began shortly after daybreak, as we awoke in our communal apartments, grabbed a quick munch, and rushed to our offices.

There, the Officer of the Day would assign Panthers to various duties throughout the day. Some were sent to high schools. Others would be sent out to sell papers. Still others would be sent out to have petitions signed. The time of a Panther would always be spent working for the Revolution.

Sometimes our work routine would change if we were relayed orders that originated from National. Such was the case in the fall of 1970, when the Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention was planned for Philadelphia, and thousands of radicals and revolutionaries were expected to attend. This was supposed to be the Party's clarion call to all radicals to converge in a convention to write a new egalitarian, liberational Constitution for a Revolutionary New America.

Several days before the event, a group of young Blacks, who were not Panthers, engaged in a deadly shoot-out with members of the Philadelphia Park police. Rizzo seized on this event to justify an unprovoked series of raids against local offices of the Black Panther Party. The predawn raids were Rizzo's attempt to destabilize and humiliate the Panthers as well as to derail the imminent convention. Captain Reggie recalls:

About five o'clock that morning I was asleep, and somebody woke me up (we used to pull guard duty in the Panthers anyway) and said, "They're here." I looked out the window, and they're lined up across the street with sub machine guns, shotguns; they're in the alley. I saw the head man clearly, he had a pistol and a gas mask strapped to his leg; he was bending down, and then all hell broke loose. Finally, we had children in there and the gas got to them too much so we had to come out.

Each cop took an individual Panther and placed their pistol up back of our neck and told us to walk down the street backward. They told us if we stumble or fall they're gonna kill us. Then they lined us up against the wall and a cop with a .45 sub would fire over our heads so the bricks started falling down. Most of us had been in bed, and they just ripped the god damn clothes off everybody, women and men. They had the gun, they'd just snatch your pants down and they took pictures of us like that.

Then they put us in a wagon and took us down to the police station. We were handcuffed and running down this little driveway; when we got to the other end of it, a cop would come by with a stick and he'd punch us, beat us. Some of us were bleeding; I know I was bleeding, but really I thought it would be a whole lot worse. [8]

Rizzo had his photo op: embarrassed, naked Panthers. But it had the opposite effect he intended. Support for the Panthers was wide and deep, the fruit of anger and outrage unleashed by the publication of the photos in the media. Community groups protested and some sued the city for their sanctioning of such police tactics against Black Philadelphians. Progressive attorneys organized legal defense and bail hearings for the imprisoned Panthers, some of whom had $100,000 bail.

On September 4, 1970, the registration for the convention opened, and over six thousand people came from across the country in support. One contemporary observer, the late Rev. Paul Washington, would term the Philadelphia Panthers "essentially a nonviolent movement." [9] He came to know, respect, and admire Captain Reggie for his sincerity and his down-to-earth style. Captain Reggie could be tough and gruff, as well as sensitive and even silly. He knew that people were motivated by hope and strengthened by love. He knew, instinctively, that people were drawn to the Party by boundless youthful idealism and that therefore the fear tactics that often accompanied paramilitary organizations would not work with the young people around him. We were there to serve our people, to defend our people, and to protect our community. We were servants of the people. Those ideas sparked us and carried us through dark days and too-short nights.

Being a Panther in Philadelphia was a unique challenge. One was home, but not at home. For "home" meant where Panthers dwelled, not where one's mother lived or where one's biological brothers and sisters lived.

It meant living in a family of several hundred young men and women, all dedicated to building, defending, or promoting the revolutionary collective. With offices in several sections of the nation's fourth largest city, the BPP was in contact with broad segments of the Black community on a frequent and daily basis: in North Philadelphia, through the two offices at 1928 West Columbia Avenue and 2935 West Columbia Avenue; in West Philadelphia, through the office at 3625 Wallace Street; and in Germantown, through the office at 428 West Queen Lane. There was a free breakfast program for schoolchildren in a South Philadelphia community center and near all major offices.

The offices were like buzzing beehives of Black resistance. It was always busy, as people piled in starting at its 7:30 a.m. opening time and continuing 'till after nightfall. People came with every problem imaginable, and because our sworn duty was to serve the people, we took our commitment seriously.

Early in the morning, we might get visits from nearby merchants, who just wanted to chat. We welcomed such visits, for they normalized our presence in the neighborhood, and they cemented relationships with businesspeople who had a stake in the area. When people had been badly treated by the cops or if parents were demanding a traffic light to slow traffic on North Philly streets where their children played, they came to our offices. In short, whatever our people's problems were, they became our problems. We didn't preach to the people; we worked with them. Some of us worked hard to develop relationships with our neighbors, because we knew that they knew the neighborhood intimately and they could teach us things about it. Throughout the early afternoon, we would get visits from school kids, not those of breakfast school age, but junior high and high school kids, who wanted to sell the paper in their schools. We would caution them to be careful, to only take as many as they were fairly certain they could sell, and ask them to return to the office 20 cents on each paper sold before the week was out.

One of our closest neighbors were the Siedlers, a family who ran a children's clothing store across the street from us. They were an older couple, affectionately called Mom and Pop Siedler, who lived in an apartment overtop their Columbia Avenue storefront. Although they were white, they were warm and supportive, and as they were apparently well-read in Marxist literature, we held political discussions with them after the office was closed. One of our sisters, a mother with a young child, stayed with them, as it seemed far more conducive to their well-being than the rough and tumble and dangerous Panther pad where we lived communally. Although unstated, we knew that the cops would be more hesitant to raid a home where white merchants lived, than a Black Panther apartment building, where we were known to be well-armed. The sister was the wife of a well-known Panther from the West Coast who left the country surreptitiously, so we were grateful for the Siedlers' generosity and kindness. Unfortunately, all did not go well for the Siedlers as Pop (Bill) was killed during a robbery of the downstairs store. We shared our grief with Mom (Miriam) at the tragic loss of her mate.

As an officer, it was disconcerting to have older members come to me with Party, and even personal, problems. I had to dispel the suspicion that I was a young snot, convince them instead that I had the confidence of the chapter and Party leadership, and thus had a duty to try to do my level best to help any Panther brother or sister, older or younger, who came for help, and if unable to do so, to refer them to other leaders in the organization.

The days were full, the nights too short, and the fellowship was electric with Black love and die-hard commitment.

One could be transferred in the blink of an eye, for reasons that were beyond one's ken. A Panther accepted this with equanimity or even looked forward to it with anticipation.

I was excited when transferred to the BPP Ministry of Information in the Bronx, New York. The size and scale of New York's five boroughs were stunning. It would take a vast metropolis like New York to make a city like Philadelphia seem small and somewhat parochial.

The people of the Bronx were outgoing and warm in their response. Once, while we were racing from our home on Kelly Street to the office on Boston Road near Prospect, we hailed a cab, and as all five of us couldn't fit in the back, the cabbie, a middle-aged guy who spoke with Spanish-accented, broken English, invited one of us into the front seat, where he and his woman sat. He was a happy, gregarious man who exuded an infectious joi de vivre. He passed around hot, steaming English muffins to his riders and chatted amiably with us in a way that warmed us despite the biting New York winter all about us. I couldn't help thinking that we wouldn't have received such warm hospitality if we were in the city that claims to be reflective of brotherly love. Philadelphia never seemed smaller or meaner.

New York's branches were also unique in the racial composition of party members, for it was the only site where Puerto Ricans served as Panthers. While they seemed to make up a higher percentage in Brooklyn, there were also some in our Bronx and Harlem branches. Some were former members of the Young Lords Party, who, because of their African heritage or their radicalism, felt more at home en el Partido Pantero Negro. They gave the Party a deeper penetration in the communities of color in New York and served with both pride and distinction.

New York seemed like an ethnic and cultural stew that was far more varied and textured than its Oakland-based progenitor. In New York, for example, a significant portion of Panthers were Sunni Muslims, as many of them had either known personally, or profoundly respected the Sunni-convert, Al Hajji Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X). Indeed, Dr. Curtis Powell (one of the famed New York Panther 21) met and talked with Malcolm in Paris after his pilgrimage to Mecca. Fellow Panther 21 veteran Richard Harris heard Malcolm preach as a Black Muslim minister at the Newark Temple.

Consequently the National Office saw the New York branch as somewhat skewed, perhaps tacking toward the dreaded heresy of "cultural nationalism." New York Panthers boasted African or Islamic-oriented names, had Hispanic names or accents, often wore African or traditional garb, and were riotously independent. The secular, uniformed center in California looked at New York as a wildly undisciplined little brother (with, incidentally, a larger membership).

If Philadelphia was busy, then New York was a frenzy.

Everywhere one turned there was something new to learn about this vast tableau. In Philadelphia, Broad Street was the main artery, dissecting the city into North and South Philadelphia. If you knew Broad Street, you knew Philadelphia. What in the name of heaven did one do in New York, where five huge cities (they called them boroughs, but they looked like cities to me) converged into an amorphous, octopus-like mass of confusion. Manhattan? The Bronx? Harlem? Queens? Staten Island? IRT? IND? New York was a vast puzzle that a young Philadelphia Panther tried to solve daily. Native New Yorkers rarely helped, for they assumed that anybody with half a brain would know, almost instinctively, what the IND or IRT lines meant in the subways. I had to learn how to ask questions and how to pick up keys for what train went where, and when. It was dizzying and challenging.

More than once I dozed during a subway ride, only to wake on a darkened car, out in some huge, dark subway yard, and have to find my way back. Many times I spent hours walking from place to place, selling papers or traveling from our office to the apartment. I was more confident in my walking than engaging the alphabet soup of the subway and El system.

After several months in the bustling city, several of us were informed we would be leaving that very night for the West Coast. Brad, Stephanie, and I were driven to New York's LaGuardia Airport, given cash for tickets, and told to catch the next flight to San Francisco, California. Brad, Stephanie, and I were artists and writers for Party leaflets and other media that came through the Ministry of Information. We were all excited about going out West, I, perhaps more than my comrades, because I had never flown before. We had no real luggage (as Panthers, we owned little), but Stephanie had a carry-on bag for her cosmetics, a few dresses, and other female necessaries. A chocolate-skinned, deeply dimpled, slender young woman, Stephanie was one of the few Panther women who seemed to utilize makeup.

As we were boarding the plane, a strange thing happened to us. We were walking down the accordion-like feeder tube to the plane, when the stewardess closed the door abruptly and a troop of armed men in dark suits appeared, as if they were waiting for us. They leaped at us as if we were the Al Capone gang, instead of Black Panther artists and writers. They rifled through what bags we had, searched us as if they expected to find a bazooka, and spoke nastily to us, in the way cops do to spark angry responses, "We gotcha now, nigger!" We looked at each other, our eyes betraying exasperation and muffled laughter. When they found no weapons, they seemed deeply disappointed and somewhat deflated; they stormed away, leaving threats instead of the expected arrests. Almost as if on cue, the blonde stewardess reopened the door of the plane, and with a fake Barbie-doll smile, welcomed three tousled Panthers aboard her flight, the New York-to-San Francisco overnight. To ease the tension of my first flight, I plucked a tightly wound joint out of my jacket pocket and lit it up, drawing a deep draught of the pungent herb into my lungs. Almost before I could taste it, a stewardess appeared at my elbow to announce, "Smoking marijuana on board American Airlines is a violation --" and she cited a statute. "Please put it out, sir!" she perkily ordered. I almost choked. I was so rattled that I did exactly that and rode across the country at night, marveling at the sheer vastness of the nation, its cities flashing by beneath us like a distant swarm of lightning bugs.

We shed our stifling winter gear at the door of the plane; the California warmth of March 1970 greeted us as we alighted from the silver-skinned bird. The heat, compared to the icy temperatures of the Bronx, was almost unbearable. Stephanie was sent to the San Francisco office, I to the national office, and Brad I know not where.

Upon arrival, I was sent to the office of Judi Douglass, editor of The Black Panther, to assist her in any form she wished. She was a sweet, gentle woman, with a soft, southern accent, who seemed to always possess an aura of sadness about her.

But it was a rare Panther who did one job. I wrote; I read; I edited; I shoveled sand for our sandbags; I sold papers; I worked security; I did all that I was ordered to do.

One night, I was posted to night watch, a job requiring one to stand armed and to watch the rear of the national office on Shattuck Avenue for any incursion from the police. My job was to watch the side alleys, the rear concrete yard, and the rooftops; the side alleys, the rear yard, and the rooftops; the side alleys, the rear yard, and the rooftops; the side alleys, the rear yard and the rooftops .... and all of a sudden, I felt a dull thump, and it felt like I got hit in the head with a hammer: I fell. I looked, surprised, at Willie Dawkins and was about to ask him what happened:

"Willie! What the -- ?"

"Nigga! Wachu mean, 'What the --?' Nigga! You was 'sleep! Don't you know you sleepin' ona job coulda got us killed? What if the pigs had vamped?"

"Sleep? Hub? Wachu mean? -- I-uh -- ?"

"Nigga -- I called you four times! Four times! You didn't hear me, did you?"

"But I wasn't 'sleep, man --"

"Then how'd I getcha gun? Huh?"

I then saw that it wasn 't a hammer that hit me but the butt of a shotgun. I was asleep? I was asleep. Standing up. On post. On night watch. I had dreamed that I was awake, watching the side alleys, the rear yard, and the rooftops. Willie was right. I had endangered every Panther asleep within the walls. My head ringing, crestfallen I apologized to Willie.

"Nigga, don't be sorry -- be alert!"

The national office if the Black Panther Party had its share of unexpected guests.

One day Chief Hilliard came up to me and in a low voice, drew my attention to a little white guy standing around the office, his arms clasped behind his back. The Chief told me to escort him around the office, saying, "He's French. He wrote some shit, The Blacks, or something about Blacks. Show this motherfucker around, ok?" I readily agreed, and he handed me a slim worn paperback with the title The Blacks emblazoned on its cover, written by someone named Jean Genet.

There, in front if me, stood a diminutive, elderly white man, bald, with very short gray hair fringed around the base of his head. His eyes were blue and seemed full of joy. He wore a weathered, cracked, brown leather, bombardier-style jacket and bluish-gray corduroys that sang with his every step. He apparently spoke no English, and I, not a word of French.

How were we to communicate? Oh, boy.

I figured simple sign language would suffice, and, as I looked into his eyes, I sensed deep intelligence. I motioned for him to wait, as I read the back cover of his book. I learned he was a playwright and did a serious bit in a French prison. His work was called emblematic of something termed "the theatre of the absurd." Hmmm? I hadn't the faintest idea of what the "theatre of the absurd" was, but I somehow felt that any white dude who wrote a play about Black folks had to be alright. Moreover, I had little choice but to obey the Chief. So I resolved to do my best. I escorted the short guy around the office, introduced him to several Panthers, and showed him the production facilities of The Black Panther newspaper. I explained that the white dude came all the way from France to see us, and some were duly impressed. (Most weren't, though -- they had no idea who he was!) When I returned from the brief tour and left him again in the company of the Chief, Hilliard seemed peeved, but I shall never forget the broad smile and twinkle of joy on Genet's face. He seemed more honored to be in the company of the Black Panthers than if he were accorded an honor guard by the president of the United States.

I later learned that he had entered the US illegally and toured on the Party's behalf both in the States and abroad. Refused a visa by the United States, Genet spent several weeks in the US, even attending the murder trial in New Haven, Connecticut, of Chairman Bobby Seale and Captain Ericka Huggins, and he gave speeches at Yale, Columbia, and other colleges.

While Bobby and Ericka's fate hung in the courtroom, Genet spoke to over twenty thousand people on May 2, 1970, on the Green at Yale:

As for Bobby Seale, I repeat, there must not be another Dreyfus Affair. Therefore, I count on you, on all of you, to spread the contestation abroad, to speak of Bobby Seale in your families, in the universities, in your courses and classrooms: you must contest and occasionally contradict your professors and the police themselves.

And, I say it once more, for it is important, what is at stake are no longer symbolic gestures, but real actions. And if it comes to this -- I mean, if the Black Panther Party asks it of you -- you must desert your universities, leave your classrooms in order to carry the word across America in favor of Bobby Seale and against racism.

The life of Bobby Seale, the existence of the Black Panther Party, come first, ahead of your diplomas. You must now -- and you have the physical, material, and intellectual means to do so -- you must now face life directly and no longer in comfortable aquariums -- I mean the American universities -- which raise goldfish capable of no more than blowing bubbles.

The life of Bobby Seale depends on you. Your real life depends on the Black Panther Party. [10]

Genet left America as he arrived, illegally, returning to his native France in May 1970.

I often wonder why his wordless visit stands so stark in my memory.

It is not because he was the only white visitor to the office. He wasn't.

Several white radicals came by, some fairly often, but almost all of them radiated fear and discomfiture in the office. Genet seemed oddly at home and at ease around the office. As a former prisoner, and a homosexual perhaps he saw himself as the perennial outsider, the consummate outlaw. I could tell by his body language, by the openness of his face, by his vibration, that he really dug being in the office. It gave him a kick. He looked like a little boy who had found his favorite toy. He did not fear us. Strangely, he seemed to feel as one with us. His Yale speech certainly showed deep support for the significance of the Party in American life.

Perhaps, as an outsider, he perceived these other outsiders as insiders? [11]
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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:22 am


Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
-- Thomas Paine, American Revolutionary, Common Sense [1]

THE HIDDEN HAND of COINTELPRO is often felt in the loss of life, of liberty, and the like. These are indeed dire measurements of the project, but there are other measures, infinitely more difficult to gauge, of its woefully widespread and deleterious effects.

These secondary and tertiary effects of the government's illegal campaign against Black political opponents split asunder one of the nation's most vigorous and ambitious revolutionary organizations -- the Black Panther Party -- a shattering that disproved the mathematical axiom that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts.

For, in severing the Party and dismembering its remnants, it forced the very notion, not to mention the expression, of revolutionary internationalism underground, denying an oppressed people their inherent right of self-determination, and derailing their struggle for true, independent self-expression, and yes, sovereignty, free from the constraints of the oppressor nation.

Using brutal police repression on the one hand, and false, deceptive brownmail on the other, the State utilized a divide-and-conquer tactic that worked surprisingly well.

Here are the basic five techniques employed in domestic espionage.

Surveillance: Direct visual spying on people; mail-snooping and monitoring of conversations, either by phone taps or the planting of mics inserted in adjacent rooms or buildings.

Infiltration: Seeding groups with police agents or using members for purposes of internal surveillance or as agents provocateurs to entrap others in illegal acts.

Intelligence-gathering: The gathering and compiling of data to use in destabilization efforts.

Destabilization: Any effort that derails, disrupts, frustrates, or weakens the organization's ability to function or fulfill collective objectives.

Neutralization: A bureaucratic euphemism for the murder, elimination, or removal of political opponents; the forcing of an organization to cease its operations or to disband.

The FBI, through its infamous COINTELPRO operations, did all that it could to disrupt the Black Panther Party. An FBI memo from 1970 reports:

A wide variety of alleged authentic police or FBI material could be carefully selected or prepared for furnishing to the Panthers. Reports, blind memoranda, LHMs [letterhead memoranda] and other alleged police or FBI documents could be prepared pinpointing Panthers as police or FBI informants; ridiculing or discrediting Panther leaders through their ineptness or personal escapades; espousing personal philosophies and promoting factionalism among BPP members; indicating electronic coverage where none exists; outlining fictitious plans for police raids or other counteractions; revealing misuse or misappropriation of Panther funds; pointing out instances of political disruptive material and disinformation; etc. The nature of the disruptive material and disinformation "leaked" would only be limited by the collection ability of your sources and the need to insure the protection of their security. [2]

This memo delineates the FBI's intent to snitch-jacket Panthers, that is, to falsely portray Panthers as snitches, and, by so doing, to threaten their continued performance in the Party by exposing them to improper expulsion, heated conflicts with other Party members, and perhaps worse. No one, outside of the FBI, that is, really knows how many Panthers unjustly suffered from such submissions.

The other serious, and certainly anticipated, effect of such insidious operations as FBI snitch-jacketing was that it frayed and eroded trust between comrades. This aura of distrust was one of Hoover's prime objectives, for amidst such widespread distrust and incipient paranoia, no organization could meaningfully function.

It is necessary here to state the obvious: the FBI's objective was not to disrupt the breakfast program, to interrupt membership drives, to cripple Black Panther newspaper sales, or even to kill or imprison Party operatives. These were mere incidentals. The primary objective was the destruction of the Black Panther Party as an independent Black radical presence in the American body politic.

Former New York Panther leader and long-time political prisoner Dhoruba bin Wahad has described the State's counterintelligence program as "a domestic war program, a program aimed at countering the rise of black militancy, black independent political thought." [3] As usual, the outspoken bin Wahad got it exactly right.

The East-West split had many beginnings, some known, some unknown, with the State skillfully manipulating the noxious toxins of ego, pride, and envy among key Party officials. Hoover authorized false letters to all of these leaders, ostensibly from the others. Each letter was critical of another Party leader for some perceived fault or flaw.

Such letters, because of the hierarchical nature of the Party and the aura of paranoia that permeated the time -- fueled by the incessant military attacks on Party offices and homes -- seemed like another form of attack and, to some, treason.

Despite the ideological claim that the Party functioned under the principle of criticism and self-criticism, the Party hierarchy in fact functioned much like any other group in bourgeois society, that is, according to the principle of power dynamics: those who have power strive mightily to keep it -- period.

So when Huey received letters full of criticism of his leadership, he struck out at those he thought were angling to undermine his rule of the organization. When Eldridge received letters critical of Huey's leadership, he felt a sense of affirmation. Neither apparently questioned the authorship of this critical correspondence.

Why would they? Why should they?

Neither they nor their subordinates had any real idea of the existence, and definitely not the extent, of government brownmail and other assorted dirty tricks. If someone had suggested that the government, the American government, was involved in writing poison pen letters pretending to be who they were not, most would have laughed, ridiculing the person as a fan of James Bond films or as paranoid.

It is ironic that revolutionaries, who swore an oath to replace the incumbent government, would yet still believe, essentially, that there were limits to what that government would do to preserve its hold on power.

This begins to make sense when one considers the deepest philosophical roots of the Party. While some might identify the philosophical basis as Marxism, or its later variation, Maoism, others would prefer Black nationalism, Black revolutionary internationalism, or, as we have suggested, Malcolmism.

None of these truly answer the question, for while they identify a stage of the Party's ideological development, the underlying philosophical approach, as based in Huey as the heart of the Party, was essentially a legalist one.

An examination of the early history of the Party, reveals, even in the events that evoked the most coverage in the corporate press, an intensely legalistic perspective. Huey was deeply influenced by the letter of the law.

Few researchers, scholars, or historians have fully analyzed this facet of Huey's worldview, preferring instead to project him as the outlaw.

This may be seen in the way that two seminal events, the BPP's armed monitoring of the Oakland police and the BPP armed demonstration in Sacramento on May 2, 1967, were told by the government and by the press.

The tone set by the State, and subsequently carried by much of the white press, may be seen in the following quote from the US House Subcommittee on Internal Security Report on the Black Panther Party:

On May 2, 1967, twenty-four members of the Black Panther Party invaded the California State Assembly at Sacramento while it was in session. The invaders were armed with rifles, shotguns, and pistols, and claimed they were there to protest a gun registration law. Security guards seized the weapons, unloaded them, and returned them to the panthers, who then walked out of the building. [4]

This account, based on the congressional testimony of Director J. Edgar Hoover, aside from its factual inaccuracy, reflects the slant adopted by much of the corporate media, which places the Panthers in the role of invaders or, by implication, outsiders. One would suppose they were aliens, not citizens who were entitled to exercise their constitutional and statutory rights as such. The account also doesn't give the slightest hint that these men were behaving in ways that were legal in California, in regard to both arms possession and their open display. In fact, had their actions not been legal they would not have been at the state house protesting, for the purpose of the new law they were opposing was to outlaw) such behavior.

Huey, who constantly studied California law books, turned to the myths and language of the law constantly, and these ideas in turn influenced his outlook long before his introduction to Fanon. We know the value Newton placed on legal concepts because we see it in many of the platforms set out in the Black Panther Party's 10-Point Platform and Program. The US Constitution is specifically cited three times, its language, "fair and impartial," is borrowed directly, and the Declaration of Independence is partially excerpted verbatim in the "What We Believe" section of the tenth point.

This legalistic bent was not only in the mind of the founder of the Black Panther Party, but shared by many Panthers who emulated and admired Huey. Not surprisingly, David R. Papke, a law professor who has studied Newton's writings and his early courtroom adventures, found him to have the mental makings of a potentially "fine lawyer." [5] While Papke doubtless meant it as a compliment, it also had a negative connotation: legalists believe that there are legal limits beyond which the State may not go.

To the average Panther, a young man or woman of seventeen to twenty years of age, there really was no frame of reference that would alert them to the level of "dirty tricks" that the State was capable.

Former Panther and former political prisoner Assata Shakur, perhaps spoke for many when she mused:

No one could have known that the FBI's COINTELPRO was attempting to destroy the Black Panther Party in particular and the Black Liberation Movement in general, using divide-and- conquer tactics. The FBI's program consisted of turning members of organizations against each other, pitting one Black organization against another. [6]

Why could no one have known?

There may be several reasons: youthful naivete, a strong sense of legalism, or perhaps, as the former political prisoner Geronimo ji-Jaga would tell a German journalist, Panthers didn't really think that what they were doing could be seen as wrong and, further, they didn't think they were important enough to warrant that kind of intense government scrutiny or that level of government repression. [7]

What was quite unknown at the time was that the FBI held secret files on some two million Americans, from the paranoid, drug-addicted Elvis Presley to the absent-minded Albert Einstein. [8] Few Americans, Black or white, had any idea of the scope of FBI and other governmental spying, infiltration, and destabilization of organizations engaged in (allegedly) constitutionally protected activities and organizing efforts, such as the anti-Vietnam War, woman's liberation, and Civil Rights movements. If one wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper or made a phone call to a "target," a file was opened and one's life could be irreparably and surreptitiously damaged.

Letters from the Feds

Party leaders regularly received mail from various Party offices and the community. It is a telling reflection of the times that a leader really would have no immediate way of knowing whether the writer of the letter was a cherished comrade, or an agent of the FBI. The following is the full text of a letter mailed to the Minister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver, at his Algerian offices in early 1971:


John Seale told me Huey talked to you Friday and what he had to say. I am disgusted with things here and the fact that you are being ignored. I am loyal to the Party and it makes me mad to learn that Huey now has to lie to you. I am referring to his fancy new apartment which he refers to as the throne. I think you should know that he picked the place out himself, not the Central Committee, and the high rent is from Party funds and not paid by anyone else. Many of the others are upset about this waste of money. It is needed for other Party work here and also in Algeria. It seems the least Huey could do is furnish you the money and live with the rest of us. Since Huey will lie to you about this, you can see how it is with him. You would be amazed at what is actually happening.

I wish there was some way I could get in touch with you but in view of Huey's orders it is not possible, You should really know what's happening and statements about you. I can't risk a call as it would mean certain expulsion. You should think a great deal before sending Kathleen. If I could talk to you I could tell you why I don't think you should.

Big Man [9]

The apparent writer was a "big man" named Elbert Howard, who edited The Black Panther for a time (and was known by the nickname Big Man).

But Big Man Howard, FBI files reveal, never wrote this letter. Its recipient, Eldridge Cleaver, did not know this, and thus the fake letter achieved its desired objectives. It insinuated itself between Cleaver and Newton, and it encouraged Eldridge to discourage his wife, Kathleen, from coming to the US to, among other things, speak at the Washington segment of the Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention (RPCC).

Newton wanted Kathleen Cleaver to help promote a number of Party projects, including the support of the imprisoned and endangered Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins, for whom a series of rallies were planned. Newton knew that this attractive, articulate, and knowledgeable Panther leader could move and electrify a crowd, something the introspective Minister of Defense never truly mastered. He realized that he spoke in a "dull fashion," and he perhaps remembered the disquieting events in Philadelphia months before and had no wish to replicate them. [10]

When the RPCC's Washington session began, Newton had no idea why the Party's Communication Secretary hadn't communicated with him and had not appeared, as promised and advertised. Huey felt this was further evidence that the Cleavers were trying to seize control of the Party.

This important Party project, which sought to create a broader, institutionalized revolutionary structure, foundered in its crib, at least in part because Kathleen didn't appear. The Party could not seize the moment to spark the vast throng, who either attended or followed the events of the RPCC, into action.

Kathleen apparently didn't appear because Eldridge didn't want her to appear, and Eldridge didn't want her to appear because he was being flooded with false, COINTEL-initiated correspondence that played on his ego and his fears and, given his extreme degree of isolation in Algiers, he believed to be true.

Indeed, this was the FBI's explicit intent, as seen by a December 1970 memo that instructed its agents to:

[W]rite numerous letters to Cleaver criticizing Newton for his lack of leadership. It is felt that, if Cleaver received a sufficient number of complaints regarding Newton it might ... create dissension that later could be more fully exploited. [11]

Their diabolical plan seemed to be working to perfection.

There was another reason why enmity was building between the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Information. Newton, again apparently believing the plethora of reports corning to him, began to order purges of anyone that he suspected might challenge his authority.

After the LA chapter's defense against the quasi-military forces of the LAPD, Geronimo emerged as a hero among Panthers. He was deeply respected for bringing out his troops alive and giving the State up to six hours of resistance. When the State's undercover efforts were exposed at the subsequent trial of the LA Panthers and the jury tossed their case, they emerged from the joint to a hero's welcome. The Black Panther called Geronimo's actions representative of "the essence of a revolutionary." [12] Geronimo's 1970 release, however, would mark a fateful turning point for him and the Party. Upon his release, he went underground and set up a secret camp in Texas where he used his Vietnam-acquired skills to train an underground military force for the Black Panther Party. However, shortly after an emissary from Hilliard arrived at their location, the place was swarmed by CSS agents, the Panthers were busted, and Geronimo was immediately returned to Los Angeles.

While Geronimo was awaiting trial in December, he came across an article in The Black Panther denouncing him and claiming he was working for the CIA. [13] Geronimo ji-Jaga, once a hero called "the essence of a revolutionary," had been labeled an "enemy of the people" and purged from the Black Panther Party.

The report that Geronimo was now considered an enemy rocked the organization. Within weeks of the Geronimo purge, members of the New York-based Panther 21 also found themselves labeled enemies. Some of these "enemies" were facing serious charges at the hands of the State. The timing was ugly. By February 1971, it was clear that a split was weaving its way through the Party, as respected comrades were praised one week, only to be condemned the next.

It was maddening.

Letters from the FBI to leading Party members sparked increased paranoia and higher spirals of instability and danger. Who knew who was writing to whom?

Letters signed by prominent Party members flowed to the exiled, isolated Minister of Information, who badly wanted to get back into the swing of things in the States. The letters virtually dripped with vitriol for the equally isolated (in his penthouse apartment) Minister of Defense. What is lamentable is that there is every indication that Cleaver and Newton believed the accounts coming to them, never questioning their authenticity.

Consider the following examples, the first allegedly from an influential Party member, Connie Matthews -- a brilliant, able activist who served as Newton's personal secretary:

I know you have not been told what has been happening lately.... Things around headquarters are dreadfully disorganized with the comrade commander not making proper decisions. The newspaper is in a shambles. No one knows who is in charge. The foreign department gets no support. Brothers and sisters are accused of all sorts of things.

I am disturbed because I, myself, do not know which way to turn .... If only you were here to inject some strength into the movement, or to give some advice. One of two steps must be taken soon and both are drastic. We must either get rid of the supreme commander [a BPP reference to Huey Newton], or get rid of the disloyal members.... Huey is really all we have right now and we can't let him down, regardless of how poorly he is acting, unless you feel otherwise. [14]

One of Cleaver's white supporters, "Algonquin J. Fuller" who claimed to be a member of Youth Against War and Fascism in New York, sent the following letter to Algiers:

Let me tell you what has happened to our brothers in the Party since you have left and that "Pretty Nigger Newton" in his funky clothes has been running things....

Brother Eldridge, to me as an outsider but one who believes in the revolution, it seems that the Panthers need a leader in America who will bring the Party back to the People.

Brother Newton has failed you and the Party. The Panthers do not need a "day time revolutionary, a night time party goer and African fashion model as a leader."

They need the leadership which only you can provide. [15]

Through their contacts within and without, the FBI learned that letters such as these were getting to Cleaver and that he thought they were genuine.

Their files reveal a Bureau that was almost giddy with glee at their apparent success, with one file noting "Cleaver has never previously disclosed to BPP officials the receipt of prior COINTELPRO letters." [16]

Shortly after the February 1971 so-called "Big Man" letter, what was originally the private province of correspondence soon became public proof of a conflict between the two most influential members of the Party.

Newton phoned Algiers to invite Cleaver to join him in a television call-in show later in the day. Cleaver readily agreed. When the station's call got through, Cleaver's voice was angry and tight, and he launched into a furious, on-air verbal attack on the Party's Central Committee. He demanded that Newton dismiss the Chief-of- Staff, David Hilliard. Newton responded in kind by attacking Cleaver personally, calling him a "punk" and a "coward."

The breach was complete.

This was far more than a falling-out between two hard-headed men. It signified the rending of the organization itself, a split that would tear east from west.

As Cleaver fell under the spell of COINTEL-produced correspondence, so too did Newton succumb to the lure of letters surreptitiously scripted by the invisible agents of the State. As the founder and the head of the Party, Newton undoubtedly received the lion's share of brownmail. In his 1980 doctoral thesis (in which he referred to himself in the third person), Newton recounts the time he received a sheaf of documents from Philadelphia:

The Philadelphia FBI field office prepared and sent to Newton a fictitious Black Panther Party directive, supposedly prepared by the Philadelphia Black Panther Office, which questioned Newton's leadership abilities; accompanying it was a cover letter purportedly from an anonymous Party supporter accusing the Philadelphia chapter of "slandering its leaders in private." FBI headquarters, in approving this operation, noted that prior COINTELPRO action which "anonymously advised the national headquarters that food, clothing, and drugs collected for BPP community programs were being stolen by BPP members" had resulted in criticism of the Philadelphia chapter by the national office, transfer of members, "and the national office has even considered closing the Philadelphia chapter." The memorandum concluded, "we want to keep this dissension going." [17]

If the Philadelphia chapter had it rough, what of the members of the biggest chapter in the nation -- New York?

New York arguably boasted the most influential and certainly best-known Panthers outside of the California chapters. They were an astute bunch who published a remarkable collective autobiography from prison, a kind of political memoir that sold briskly in the nation's mass media hub. The New York Panthers were immensely popular, not just in the ghettos and barrios of New York, but throughout the country.

Leading New York Panthers like Dhoruba bin Wahad, Afeni Shakur, Michael "Cetawayo" Tabor, Lumumba Shakur, Zayd Malik Shakur, and Beth Mitchell had the good looks, oratorical skills, and charismatic presence that the media seemed to love. It was precisely these qualities that made some of the New York Panthers prime targets for FBI and government neutralization. The somewhat California-centric Party could not help being challenged by the growing prominence of its eastern half, and the agents of COINTELPRO were there to exploit this incipient envy.

Not content with their neutralization of the Panther 21 by unjust incarceration, the FBI, learning that the group made public a letter critical of Newton's increasingly autocratic rule, proceeded to produce and send other letters, in the name of the 21, to Eldridge and Huey, each critical of the other. Huey expelled the authors (all but Dhoruba and Cetawayo, who were out on bail, and thus hadn't signed the letters), sending ew York to the brink of revolt. Meanwhile, the FBI wrote this letter to the international office in Algiers:

As you are aware, we of the Panther 21 have always been loyal to the Party and continue to feel a close allegiance to you and the ideology of the Party which has always developed mainly through your efforts.

We know that you have never let us down and have always inspired us through your participation in the vanguard party. As the leading theoretician of the party's philosophy and as a brother among brother [sic], we urge you to make your influence felt. We think that The Rage [that is, Eldridge Cleaver] is the only person strong enough to pull this factionalized party back together ....

You are our remaining hope in our struggle to fight oppression within and without the Party. [18]

One Harlem Panther, Assata Shakur, would still simmer at the mass expulsion of the 21 many years later and expressed wonder at the efforts of the government to destroy the Black Panther Party:

Zayd [Malik Shakur, New York's Deputy Minister of Information] was acting as peacemaker between Huey and the Panther 21, furiously trying to get Huey to rescind his expulsion order. Zayd felt that to take any position in reference to the problems might jeopardize his role and result in dire consequences for the Panther 21. Cetawayo and Doruba, who had not been expelled because they were out on bail and had not signed the letter, were also attempting to get the Panther 21 reinstated. Huey wanted them to support the expulsion and the expelled Panthers wanted them to criticize Huey's actions. [19]

Their efforts, while undoubtedly noble, did not fit the frenetic temper of the times. Theirs was a call to reason and restraint, in an era of paranoia and widespread distrust:

Like Zayd, Cet and Dhoruba honestly believed they could straighten out the madness. And were it not for the FBI, they probably would have. Nobody could possibly have known that the FBI had sent a phony letter to Eldridge Cleaver in Algiers, "signed" by the Panther 21, criticizing Huey Newton's leadership. No one could have known that the FBI had sent a letter to Huey's brother saying the New York Panthers were plotting to kill him .... Huey ended up suspending Cet and Dhoruba from the Party, branded them as "enemies of the people," and caused them to go into hiding, in fear of their very lives. No one had the slightest idea that this whole scenario was carefully manipulated and orchestrated by the FBI. [20]

The FBI, having achieved their objectives of splitting apart the two most influential Panther chapters in the nation, was thrilled at the level of their success. By March 1971, a new range of orders went into the field, based upon the same tactics that were used previously:

Since the differences between Newton and Cleaver now appear to be irreconcilable, no further counter-intelligence activity in this regard will be undertaken at this time and now new targets must be established. David Hilliard and Egbert [sic] "Big Man" Howard of national headquarters and Bob Rush of the Chicago B.P. Chapter are likely future targets ....

Hilliard's key position at the National Headquarters makes him an outstanding target. Howard and Rush are also key Panther functionaries ... making them prime targets. [21]

That the FBI began to target other, second-tier Panthers suggests that the emphasis on Newton and Cleaver was based upon the leaders' Party-wide and national influence, rather than their discrete personalities. Yet both men were fashioned in ways that made them particularly vulnerable to the FBI shenanigans. Both were remarkable men, with abilities and strengths that made them indispensable for the tasks thrust upon them by history. Yet, like all other mortals, they had vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and tendencies that, when exploited, could open the door to disaster. Some of these traits are revealed by how the two men fell into the traps prepared for them by the class enemy -- the State.

The Power of Personality

It is beyond dispute that Huey P. Newton was a man of signal brilliance and truly remarkable courage. In many ways, the Black Panther Party came into being because of his will, and his strength. While those are positive attributes, they also had negative aspects. Huey, while nominally ranked below the Chairman, was, in fact and in our consciousness, the first Panther, the de facto Leader. Thus he was the first among unequals. He was a model that all Panthers aspired to.

Eldridge Cleaver, as an ex-convict and author, brought to the Party more than his writing skills and his notoriety. An adept and exciting speaker, Eldridge brought a public strength to the Party that it lacked, given Huey's real aversion to public speaking. His criminal background, indeed, gave the Party a kind of street credibility to its claimed lumpen origins.

Eldridge also brought to the Party his contacts in the white radical fringe that did not really warm to Huey.

Yet the Cleaver-Newton alliance had its fault lines, and ego was one of them. It is apparent when one reads the letters from the FBI to Eldridge that each of them appeals to his ego, with almost saccharin pleas like "only you can provide the leadership" that the Party needs and suggestions to get rid of Huey and the like.

For someone who was some 7,000 miles away from home, in exile, who dearly wanted to come home to the States, the letters to Cleaver must have been heady stuff.

As for Huey, it appears the Minister of Defense had several traits that first exploded in his conflict with Eldridge and later with other, mostly ea6tern, Panthers.

In his earliest years of adolescence, Huey fought hard, mostly against his fellows in the neighborhood, and suspected anyone who he didn't know was friend to be his enemy. [22] Can we say that this formative experience and youthful inclination simply disappeared when he created the Party as a young, angry man?

It appears that this deep, instinctual way of knowing, or of fearing the unknown, may have been a powerful factor in Huey's relationships with other Panthers. Consider this: when Huey went to prison in 1967, he had a personal connection with every man or woman who was a member of the Black Panther Party. Usually he or Bobby knew them from the neighborhood and had recruited them. If they didn't know them, then they certainly knew of them or knew the people who recruited them. Three years later, free on appeal in 1970, the Party he knew was tremendously transformed. There were now branches and chapters not in three geographically close cities (Oakland, San Francisco, and Richmond), but in over forty-three. The largest chapters were in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Huey didn't know any of these people. He never rapped with them. He knew of them, certainly, but he must have wondered where they stood, or where they would stand, in times of strife and battle.

Could he trust them?

Conversely, to many of the young men and women who joined the Party in other parts of the nation, Huey was the brother on the posters on our office walls. He stood, steely-eyed, beside a flint-jawed Bobby Seale, a shotgun in his grasp. Or he sat, like an African warlord, in a wispy wicker chair, a shotgun in one hand and a spear in the other. They did not know him. They only knew his image.

There were few of the real human ties of sympathy and concern that grew from shared struggles on the ground.

Huey tended to make leaders of those people that he knew from his pre-Party street life, his homies and friends. While these were undoubtedly people that he trusted, they often were people who were, quite frankly, ill equipped to handle the pressures and stresses of directing and managing an international organization.

What appears to have happened is that guys whom Huey trusted tended to carry Huey's water, rather than question his decisions on matters involving Party discipline. They became, not his comrades, but his emissaries, instruments of his will. It was to men such as these that the term Huey's Party had meaning and verity.

David Hilliard's autobiography is instructive in this regard in at least two respects. He writes that he was stumped by the central work of Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, which was so important to the founders of the Party. He also describes an event in which he, drunken and frustrated, walks out of his home and takes a potshot at a passing cop car, an expression of his giving vent to "the madness." [23]

While this behavior perhaps reflects the actions of a drunkard, therefore somewhat mitigating the charge, it raises justifiable questions about his ability to effectively manage the affairs of the nation's largest Black revolutionary organization. It suggests that Hilliard was in over his head. Shortly thereafter, Hilliard is counseled by Seale, who explains to him the rudimentary notion of the revolutionary process as an extended one, and not an emotional or instantaneous response to external stimuli. David listens as if it's the first time he has heard such ideas. [24] Clearly, then, while Hilliard may have held Huey's trust and his affection, it is doubtful that he possessed the managerial or interpersonal skills necessary for a group composed of young, angry Black people who wanted to fight to bring freedom to their people. That didn't mean, of course, that David was somehow stupid or didn't learn the lessons needed to do the task. It means only that Hilliard's prerequisite for the job was his deep, personal loyalty to Huey, and while that served Huey's interests, it did not necessarily serve the interests of a growing, changing Black revolutionary political party.

It seems easy, in time's hindsight, to be critical of Huey for appointing people who seemed ill equipped for the job. It is also somewhat unfair for us to do this, especially given the ungodly levels of repression visited upon the Party at the time. There were raids all across the nation, some fatal. The Party was under direct and sustained military and political attacks. That is to say, it was not an easy task. Further, where was Huey to find the people more prepared for the job? Put an ad in the campus newspaper at Howard University? Put an ad in The Black Panther?

At tl1e time, perhaps the best-educated Panther may also have been its most treacherous -- Earl Anthony. Anthony, who was several credits short of his law degree when he joined the Party, would go down in history as the Party's first snitch. It is bad enough that he was given the rank of Captain and was sent to help organize the LA chapter. Even though he was intelligent enough to take on the task of Chief-of-Staff, there was also the growing suspicion that he was not cool -- they didn't think he was a snitch exactly, but fishy in some way. If he had been given the rank of Chief-of-Staff, the disaster that befell the Party might have been even more tragic.

As a rule, given the Party's rhetoric about being a lumpen group, credentials didn't really matter. What mattered was your heart. What mattered was your will.

Yet Huey's parochial instincts; his dis-ease with the new, the unknown, also fed into his behavior toward the end of 1970 and 1971. He essentially distrusted those folks whom he didn't know. Thus, he looked at Panthers in New York and Philadelphia with a jaundiced eye. When he felt he received less than total obedience, he expelled. Period.

While it is undoubtedly true that between Cleaver and Newton there was considerable ideological dissonance, it is also true that one's ideology arose from one's ideation, that is, one's world view, and one's perspective on the world. To suppose that all political ideas arise from the calm, untroubled realm of logic without the influence of one's inner life is to suppose that all that men do in the realm of politics is logical. History, with all of its inexactitudes, gives us sufficient evidence to the contrary. Can anyone claim that the mania of the Nazis regarding Jews during the Reich was logical? With the exception of the value of defining an "other" for the Nazis to focus on, there is little real doubt that the enmity visited upon the Jews came from a psychosocial place where logic doesn't dwell.

Ideologically, Cleaver was a devotee of the paramilitary foco, a form of organization typified by the urban guerrilla campaigns waged throughout much of Latin America. He wanted the BPP to form the nucleus of such groups as a ew World Liberation Front in the US. While this certainly was a direction that was approached by the Party in the late 1960s, and perhaps early 1970s, by 1971, it was not the direction I ewton would advocate. Indeed, by 1972 the BPP, which remained under his control, would opt for an electoral strategy, as Bobby Seale and other leading members ran for local and regional offices in Oakland and its environs.

A 1972 order of the Central Committee commanded all Panthers to centralize in Oakland to support the campaign of Bobby Seale for Mayor of Oakland (and related campaigns for various offices on his slate). The order meant that Panthers from across the country had to close their local offices, close their local community survival programs, and, essentially, leave for Oakland. For some Panthers, this was simply unacceptable. Many people left the Party.

Audrea Jones from Massachusetts was not one of them. She followed the directive of the Central Committee but not without misgivings. She was one of the few women who captained a chapter and was thus deeply involved in the Party's community operations.

She submitted to the will of the Central Committee and joined the Party's efforts in the Bay Area to consolidate power in the birthplace of the organization. Years later, she would state that the decision by the Party was a serious tactical error:

It [the closing of all chapters outside California] was a major mistake. I think that it was a major mistake. It was a national organization with viable structures in communities. I think people felt abandoned by that. There was great support for the Party in local chapters and branches. People had ... put themselves out to be part of that. To just close down clinics and close down breakfast programs. I mean the whole idea was to organize these things to the extent that things could be taken over. But there was a hole left. [25]

The 1972-73 centralization of the Party in Oakland had another impact that was perhaps unforeseen by the Central Committee: it communicated to many common people that the Party was in decline. Why else, people wondered, would the Panthers close down their community programs? Therefore the centralization contributed to the Party's own demise.

It was a continuing diminution, a devolving of sorts, that seemed to suggest that the much-reported split was a reality. Perception became reality. That perception was, if anything, strengthened when Seale lost the mayor's race, albeit after a surprisingly strong showing.

Huey's Return to "The Good Old Days"

According to several published accounts, it was Huey's insistence on the centralization of the Party in Oakland, over the objections of Chairman Bobby, that swung the Central Committee on the question. [26]

While there were arguments for the centralization, it would appear that the main reason was Newton's determination to recreate the Party of his pre-prison memory: to bring all Panthers to Oakland; to close down all other offices; to re-create a smaller, more manageable Party.

To know them.

To test them.

To determine, once and for all, were they friend or foe?

What Huey had demonstrated in his life experience was an extraordinary will. It took will to found the Party. It took will to build the Party. Perhaps his will would allow him to rebuild the Party.

This was not to be.

The split left several groups vying for the legitimacy of the original Black Panther Party -- a western branch centralized in the port city of Oakland; an eastern branch headquartered in the Bronx, New York; and the Black Liberation Army, which drew from the remnants of both.

Within weeks of the Newton/Cleaver breach, Panthers began to die, this time not from the fire of the class enemy, the State, but by the hands of their erstwhile brothers.

Robert Webb, an ex-GI who returned from war for the Empire determined to battle for the liberation of Black people in the US through the Black Panther Party, was shot to death while standing on the corner of 125th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem on March 6, 1971, perhaps because, as a western Panther, he dared to ally himself with members from the East.

Six weeks later, Sam Napier, a gentle man who was Distribution Manager for The Black Panther newspaper, was tortured to death in a grimy apartment in New York in retaliation for Webb's slaying. Both Webb and Napier were much-loved and well-respected members of the Party, and their loss precipitated an exodus from the Party of members who felt disgusted at the in-fighting.

The losses of Webb and Napier marked the depths to which interparty rivalry had fallen. Their deaths marked far more than the passing of two dedicated revolutionaries.

It marked the shattered dreams of hundreds of Panthers, who watched as the Party of their dreams become the abode of their darkest nightmares.

Men like Webb, Napier, Fred Bennett, and others known and unknown became unwitting martyrs to madness, while the FBI, and those who sponsored them, cackled with glee.

The split became a divide, which became a rending, which yawned into a canyon.

Like a ruminant, like a wild animal born in the bush with the scent of the predator on the wind, the Black Panther Party sprang into being quickly and rapidly found its footing, running across the vastness of the nation with the swiftness of an African gazelle. It grew quickly and knew its strength in its ability to reproduce itself over forty times in forty different places.

Quietly, under cloak of darkness, the hunter lay, feeding poison into the waters and death into the air.

It awoke one day to find its body severed in twain, pain searing the breach, but miraculously, incredibly, still alive.

Dulled by agony, less than its former self, smaller, less vital, but, for now, alive.
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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:25 am

CHAPTER TEN: One, Two, Many Parties

There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.

-- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (Brutus to Cassius)

TO MANY BLACK and white radical youth of today, the very existence of the Black Panther Party seems almost miraculous. To many of the young people who worked, lived, and loved in the Party, however, the Party was not a miracle, but a bright, shining reality, one born of radical necessity.

It was the stuff of bitter hopes, of frustrated dreams, a will-o'- the-wisp of Black desires that caught on the wind's ragged updrafts, and spread like a fire in the mind, across vast distances.

In the years preceding the birth of the Party, famed Black labor leader and 1963 March on Washington organizer Bayard Rustin would argue that southern Blacks had no intention of leaving their traditional, albeit troubled, home in the Democratic Party:

Southern Negroes, despite exhortations from S CC to organize themselves into a Black Panther Party, are going to stay in the Democratic Party -- to them it is the party of progress, the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society -- and they are right to stay. [1]

For the most part, of course, Rustin's insight has stood the test of time; however, within months of his writing, there was indeed a Black Panther Party with Blacks as fervent members in the North, the South, the West, and the East. All were united under the inspiring vision of Huey P. Newton and by Malcolm's post- NOI powerful exhortations to revolution.

With the whole world seemingly embroiled in revolutionary and anticolonial struggle, and given the oppressive nature of Black existence, it seemed not only logical but inevitable that Blacks in America would launch mass movements of rebellion. The Black Panther Party, as the embodiment of that rebelliousness, seemed as natural as rain showers in April.

Within a decade of its flowering however, the split dealt a serious blow to the BPP. For a time, like jealous, bickering twins vying for a prince's throne, the two sides were locked in conflict; each strove to prove it was the legitimate heir to the name of the Black Panther Party.

Newton, ever the Nietzschean, sought to actuate his own will to power, sought to minimize the damage by denying the very existence of a split. He termed it a "ghost split" that was more media creation than material reality. [2] In a sense, he was correct. Broadly speaking, however, he was not.

For there can be no question that the antagonistic media delighted in projecting and exacerbating any hint of conflict between members and even supporters of the Black Panther Party.

Yet, there was a split.

Cleaver, raging and fuming in Algiers, announced he would lead the "real Black Panther Party" from his redoubt in North Africa. Newton would dismiss him as "an ultraleft sorcerer's apprentice with a gift of verbal magic." [3]

Truth be told, the bulk of the organization remained firmly in Newton's grasp. Newton also held on to the Party's crown jewel, The Black Panther newspaper. The paper was valuable, not merely because of the financial resources it generated, but because it directly communicated with hundreds of thousands of people, weekly, unmediated by the establishment media.

Yet, by mid 1971, it became clear that some who resigned from the organization resigned from its western branch and affiliated with the wing of the East Coast Black Panther Party, headquartered in Harlem and the Bronx. Panthers in the East published Right On! Black Community News Service, a Black Panther newspaper in everything but name.

Like any divorce, parting was not sweet sorrow.

Panthers, feeling either deeply wounded or deeply betrayed, turned their volcanic anger, their frustrated rage, and their misguided vengeance on each other, with predictably disastrous results. Selling a newspaper, whether East or West, became a serious matter. Indeed, walking the streets became problematic, as shown by the noted killing of the diminutive Robert Webb and echoed by the killing of Sam Napier. They were but part of half a score of Panthers who appeared to have met their ends at the hands of other Panthers.

The fate of Webb and others like him showed that the split was far more than Newton's "ghost split."

This was a split of the spirit.

There was, in fact, more than one split; there were several. In each, a new organ came into being to give voice to the alienation that arose between former comrades. As Right On! marked the emergence of the East Coast Black Panther Party, a new journal, Babylon! Revolutionary People's Communication Network, reflected the emergence of a formation to the left of the East Coast Party, more in line with Cleaver's exhortations to present a more radical, more militant, and more confrontational profile.

But, as Safiya Bukhari recalls, Cleaver's influence, at least in the East Coast, New York-based formation, had its limits. She recalls receiving an unexpected transatlantic phone call that broke into a tense, nerve-wracking night:

This particular night I was on security at the Harlem office, along with two other people when the phone rang. When I answered the phone an operator said, Your overseas party is on the line. Go ahead please. I said I didn't make an overseas call. I didn't make one but Eldridge Cleaver was on the line from Algeria. either one of us had placed the call, but we knew who had. It seems the government or somebody wanted us to talk about something.

We decided to talk despite not initiating the call. Eldridge took the opportunity to tell me that it was time to escalate the struggle. He said it was time to take it to the streets and that's what I should tell people to do. I said, NO! I was not going to tell people to do that. I told Eldridge that the conditions were not right and I was not going to encourage our people to go out and take part in or become victims of a bloodbath. I held firm because I truly believed I was right. Eldridge didn't know the objective conditions here. He was over 3,000 miles away, in Algeria.

When he saw he was getting nowhere with me he put Cetawayo [Michael Tabor, one of the Panther 21, who fled to Algiers rather than face trial or reprisal] on the phone. Cet told me I should do as Eldridge requested. I asked, Cet, do you remember what you taught me? To deal with the principle and not the personality? Cet said in that deep, deep, melodious voice, that he possessed, Yes. He was silent for a moment and then made no further attempt to get me to do what Eldridge wished. [4]

Although Bukhari felt tremendously empowered by her stand off with the influential and charismatic information minister, Cleaver's voice remained the dominant one heard through the East Coast's main organs, Right On! and Babylon! These papers documented the growing splits and countersplits severing the Party. To the people not intimately involved with the various feuding factions this was but a recipe for confusion and did not serve any faction well.

It served the interests of the State.

The second split, marked by the journal Babylon!, meant far more than a third Black revolutionary paper. It meant, for some, their final leave from the party of their dreams and hopes and the leap into the uncertainty of small, revolutionary collectives like the clandestine Black Liberation Army, unaffiliated with known, above-ground radical organizations.

From his penthouse in Alameda County, Newton would decry the revolutionary cultism of the early Black Panther days and, by clear implication, criticize Cleaver for what Newton termed his defection from the Party and, more importantly, the Party's defection from the very people it was sworn to defend and serve:

[A]nything said or done by a revolutionist that does not spur or give the forward thrust to the process (of revolution) is wrong. Remember that the people are the makers of history, the people make everything in their society. They are the architects of the society and if you don't spur them on, then I don't care what phrases you use or whether they are political or religious, you cannot be classified as being relevant to that process. If you know you're wrong and do certain things anyway, then you're reactionary because you're very guilty.

... [T]he revolutionary cultists use words of social change; he uses words about being interested in the development of society. He uses that terminology, you see; but his actions are so far divorced from the process of revolution and organizing the community that he is living in a fantasy world. So we talk to each other on the campuses, or we talk to each other in the secrecy of night, concentrating on weapons, thinking these things will produce change without the people themselves. Of course people do dangerous things and call themselves the vanguard, but the people who do things like that are either heroes or criminals. They are not the vanguard because the vanguard means spearhead, and the spearhead has to spear something. If nothing is behind it, then it is divorced from the masses and is not the vanguard. [5]

As Newton's remarks suggest, the Black Panther Party, like any living, sentient organism, changed, developed, and transformed itself over time. Indeed, even before the split in its very insular, organizational history, it was "one, two, many parties."

As we have seen, at its inception under the name of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the Party was deeply nationalist and was influenced by the ideas of the late Malcolm X. Shortly thereafter, the dropping of the "for Self-Defense" from the group's name signified the broadening of the Party's vision, and it began to view itself as a "revolutionary nationalist" formation and opposed the cultural nationalism of groups like the US organization. [6]

During this period, the Party's internal organization took the form of revolutionary cultism. Inspired by the explosion of national liberation movements and armed revolutions in the 1960s, the model of the revolutionary foco, a relatively small group of men (and occasionally women) staging antistate, or anticolonial actions, had tremendous appeal to young African American revolutionaries who, like all Americans, were notoriously impatient. Newton condemned this period for its concentration on weapons and revolutionary dialogue; for ignoring the hard necessity of popular organizing. [7]

As members studied the struggles raging around the world, they saw so many similarities between those waged internationally and domestically that solidarity with the world's people seemed only logical. The Party used the term intercommunalism to describe this development. This term referred to the interaction of global communities and was based in Newton's analysis that US imperialism precluded nationhood and recognized that independent nations couldn't exist.

The Party, reeling from repression and accumulated death and loss, ended its days operating in a reformist/electoral mode that left it isolated from its core community as it focused its efforts on the mayoral campaign of Bobby Seale and the City Council campaign of Elaine Brown.

The year 1982 marks the official death of the Black Panther Party, since that was when many of the Party's programs, like the once-acclaimed Intercommunal Youth Institute (or primary school), and the publication of the BPP newspaper ceased, though, for many, it had died years before.

At each phase, the Party evolved (or devolved) into something quite distinct from what it had been before. The Party, like the proverbial cat, had many lives. At some phases of its life, it ran with grace and purpose, at others, it limped, wounded by external and self-inflicted injuries.

That it survived and functioned at all, in the face of the State's overt and covert repression, especially for the extended period that it did, is a startling testament to the vision of its founders and the gritty will of its membership.

After the Party?

Organizations such as the Black Panther Party, which have appreciable impacts on community consciousness and political development, do not simply fade into the ether. Throughout African American history, we have seen the demise of one group presage the rise and development of another. The quasi-nationalist Moorish Science Temple movement of the 1930s gave rise to the Nation of Islam and other Black Muslim movements.

Similarly, the Black Panther Party's formal and informal demise as a national revolutionary entity gave rise to a number of localized radical and revolutionary formations. Many of these successor groupings were led by former members of the BPP and sought to recreate the spark of the Party along local, regional, or coastal lines.

In Philadelphia, ex-BPP cadre formed the Black United Liberation Front (BULF), which worked on police brutality issues and ran "a free breakfast for children program, a free clothing program, a bus ... to take people to visit relatives and friends in prison .... [It] organized all the gangs on this side of Broad Street at one point in 1971-72 and got them instead of fighting each other, to start turning over abandoned cars, throwing trash and garbage that the city wouldn't collect, and blocking up the street demanding that the city turn over abandoned houses in the Black community ... " [8] Within a decade, through declining membership and lack of resources, BULF was largely defunct. In Kansas City, Missouri, a militant, aggressive cadre of ex-BPP personnel transformed their chapter into a group called the Sons of Malcolm. They, too, after several years, ceased to exist.

While the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) was more a contemporary competitor than a successor, the St. Petersburg, Florida- based nationalist organization utilized ex-BPP talent like Akua Njeri (nee Deborah Johnson) to preside over the APSP-led National People's Democratic Uhuru Movement. Njeri was the fiancee of Fred Hampton, and narrowly escaped death in the government attack that left Hampton dead. In addition to using key ex-Panthers in their APSP apparatus, the organization created propaganda that made frequent references to BPP personnel. Njeri has spoken of her current political role as a "continuation of the Panther legacy." [9]

What began in 1990 as the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) in Dallas, Texas, took root from a call by Michael McGee, a city councillor and former Panther, for the establishment and arming of what he termed the Black Panther Militia of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. McGee's 1990 talk show appearance in Dallas would inspire radio producer Aaron Michaels to launch a local chapter.

Although there are indications that the Dallas group initially began community programs, notably a breakfast program,1O by 1991, when the NBPP name was formally registered, Michaels seemed to have soured on this idea. He is quoted opining, "Survival programs are good, but they don't make us free." [11]

This suggests the NBPP has traveled some distance from its namesake. The rise of Dr. Khallid Abdul Muhammad, the former NOI national spokesman, to the group's leadership perhaps best marks the change. While Michaels took the rank of Defense Minister, Dr. Muhammad, with his penchant for angry, anti-white and anti-Jewish speech, emerged as de facto leader of the NBPP until his sudden death, due to a brain aneurism, on February 17, 2001.

His successor, the Howard University-trained attorney, Malik Zulu Shabazz, has tried to emulate Muhammad in style and speech. Under Shabazz, the NBPP sounds themes that sound closer to NOI ideology than to the original BPP. When David Hilliard critiqued the NBPP for having "totally abandoned our survival programs," Shabazz claimed that the original BPP "are really working with the Zionists," [12] and suggested that they may be engaged in counterintelligence for the FBI.

That Shabazz could suggest that the "originals" were somehow "Zionist" supporters reflects the dearth of study engaged in by the NBPP on those whose name they now bear. It was the original BPP who announced that "Zionism=Racism" and took the largely unique stance among Black nationalist-oriented groups of the era in support of Palestinian liberation.

In the NBPP Newton's writings are rarely, if ever, read, and although its imagery and uniform may have been adopted-few original ideas have been. The NBPP seems to be an emergence of the NOI under a different name.

In 1994, the New African American Vanguard Movement (NAAVM) emerged in Los Angeles, California. The organization was founded by, and its collective leadership was partly composed of, former members of the original BPP. The group formulated an eight-point platform and program as an updated version of the original 10-Point Program. [13]

This group has continued to develop, changing its name to the New Panther Vanguard Movement (NPVM), expanding the original eight points to its present ten, and publishing a newspaper that bears a striking similarity to the original Panther newspaper. According to a recent edition of the NPVM quarterly, NPVM collectives are active in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Decatur, Georgia.

In New York City, a group partly composed of former BPP people formed the Black Panther Collective (EPC) in 1994. They have described their objectives thusly:

(1) to continue the revolutionary legacy of the Black Panther Party; (2) to put forth a vision of a new and just society; (3) to build a revolutionary infrastructure; and (4) to engage in protracted revolutionary struggle. [14]

In language at least, the BPC's objectives can hardly be distinguished from the early Party.

Anarchist organizations are also looking to the Black Panther Party as they formulate their positions. Ashanti Alston, a former member of the BPP and the BLA, and a political prisoner for over twelve years, publishes the magazine Anarchist Panther and was active in organizing the Anarchist People of Color conference. Revolutionary Active Communities Uprising in Numbers (RACUN) developed a version of a ten-point plan and is developing survival programs and a self-defense program.

Such groups as these demonstrate the wish to utilize the original BPP as a potent symbol of radical social change. They continue to look to the Party's remarkable example for sustenance and as a source of strength for the struggles yet to come.

In that sense, it may be said that the Party continues to exist-if only in the hearts and minds of many.


There are many legacies of the Black Panther Party. They are, as all else in life, both positive and negative and vary depending upon where one looks for them.

What remains in Black youth consciousness (and youth consciousness in general) is the Black Panther Party as a symbol of resistance. The image and ideas of the Black Panther Party, and Huey P. Newton, still attract interest and attention. This may be traced to the frequent mention of the Black Panthers in hip hop. The relative success of the 1994 film Panther, by popular Black filmmakers and actors Mario and Melvin Van Peebles, while hardly a blockbuster, became for many young people their eye-opening introduction to an aspect of Black contemporary history they were never told about in school.

Another measure of the continuing vitality of the Black Panther Party in Black consciousness may be seen in the continued publication of the writings of Panthers. Recently Seven Stories Press released a compilation of Newton's writings, as The Huey P. Newton Reader. Black Classics Press has reissued Bobby Seale's Seize the Time and George Jackson's Blood in My Eye. Philip Foner's The Black Panthers Speak has also recently been reissued, and Assata Shakur's autobiography Assata and Elaine Brown's A Taste if Power remain popular.

Of course, it would be disingenuous to ignore some other legacies, even if they are negative ones. Forrest Gump, a somewhat more successful film venture than Panther, starred Tom Hanks as a mentally challenged individual who makes improbable friends with people, with unforeseen historical effects. In order to lend the film a sense of authenticity reflective of the period of social upheaval, the Hanks character encounters a uniformed Panther figure who is so overcome with rage that what he says sounds like barely intelligible nonsense. The clear inference of the movie is that the Panthers largely spoke incoherently to people. It also perpetuated the impression of the BPP as an armed group of outlaws. The two film treatments demonstrate that the legacy and meaning of the Black Panther Party continues to be a conflicted one.

This is not only so in the realm of American popular culture, but in an area that impacts African American life in dozens of ghettos and inner cities every day.

Urban gangs have become a national phenomenon since the passing of the BPP. This was not unforeseen as former BPP political prisoner Geronimo ji-Jaga told a German reporter in 1993:

Huey Newton gave a lecture on that one time and we had foreseen that this was gonna happen. After the leadership of the BPP was attacked at the end of the '60s and the early '70s, throughout the Black and other oppressed communities, the role models for up-coming generations became the pimps, the drug dealers, etc. This is what the government wanted to happen. The next result was that the gangs were being formed, coming together with a gangster mentality, as opposed to the revolutionary progressive mentality we would have given them. [15]

Given this ruinous social dynamic, it is telling that even under these conditions the ethos of the BPP, perhaps through remnants of the organization or perhaps through the power of example, seemed to seep into the origins of the notorious Crips and the Bloods.

This influence may be seen in the gangs' names. CRIP originally stood for Community Resource Independent Project. [16] Their adversaries were originally Brotherly Love Overrides Oppression Daily (BLOOD). [17] The former Crip turned New Afrikan nationalist Shaka Sankofa (formerly "Monster" Kody Scott) cites prison sources for an attempted reorganization of Crips under the name Clandestine Revolutionary Internationalist Party Soldiers. [18]

Clearly, at some level, the rhetoric of the BPP has resonance in the psyches of the originators and reorganizers of Black youth gangs. That it did not go further may be ascribed to the loss of a living model.

Public Service

To a generation living in an era of market ascendancy and cultural commodification, one lesson the Party teaches is the importance of public service as an organizing focus. The Party stood for social service to one's community that was unremunerated and one's collective, communal duty. Integral to this idea was the secular mission of the Party to reclaim and redeem Black men who were engaged in antisocial, lumpen-type criminal activities.

The very process of politicization served to provide members an analytical framework through which they could perceive the function of the State, and its "security" apparatus, as a protector not of the people, but of a privileged class. It also illuminated how the acts of petty, antisocial criminals contributed to the continued powerlessness and political subordination of their communities. While the Party did not actively promote the redemptive side of itself, the lived experiences of members were telling reflections of a deeply held and socially acceptable conversion experience, not to a religion, but to a political perspective. Shaba Om (ne Lee Roper) recalled reading an issue of Ramparts magazine that featured an article on the Black Panther Party. The article impressed him so much that he began searching for members of the BPP in Harlem. When a member provided him with a copy of The Black Panther, he found himself deeply moved and deeply motivated to renounce and distance himself from his criminal past. This tactic was also a popular organizing strategy of the Nation of Islam and was a well-known element in the transformation of Malcolm X. Om recalls:

I began to go to political education classes -- but I was still hung up on the bag of pimping. What really got me out of that madness was political education, me digging on my true self as a black man, and the Honorable John Coltrane's music. I dug what I was doing to my people and myself. In 1968, I had got myself together and stopped jiving. Began to go to political education classes every night after slave. After political education classes, I would go to my pad and try to hide from the jive niggers I knew.

It was past time for me to come forward and correct the wrong I'd done. I knew all the madness I was doing on the streets was wrong as two right shoes, dig.... [T]he only thing left was to become a true helper and servant of my beautiful people .... This is when I really became a Black Panther, warrior of my people. [19]

This can only be seen as a profound conversion experience -- a redefinition of the self, one's true self; one's becoming. What pushed Om and others across the divide, from a life of crime to a life of service and sacrifice, was personal tragedy, a shattering event that forced one to confront one's place in the world, especially one's racial identity, and one's political place in the universe. [20] Om, and many young people like him, was undergoing a profound psychological metamorphosis; the cracking of the egg of the old self, and the emergence of the new. To Om, as a pimp, drug pusher, and user, death became the doorway to this new life:

And this sister I was relating to as my main love died from skag. Man ... like this blew my mind, because she had quit skag once, and come to me for help because she dug me and my way of thinking-and I turned my back on her; this really blew my mind when she died. I was going to political education classes then, too, when she died. The first thing that came into my mind was, I helped the pigs kill one of my sisters. [21]

Love and loss brought him to the Black Panther Party and compelled him to find his better self -- a servant of the people, rather than as a predator against the people.

Many former Panthers continue the legacy of social service by including those working as drug counselors, antigang coordinators, and teachers. Former Panther and the Illinois Deputy Minister of Defense Bobby Rush serves in the nation's House of Representatives.

Women of the Party

Many female Panthers ,vent on to lead or staff community organizations and social help groups. Some have become scholars. Some have become lawyers. Some, like Kathleen Neal Cleaver, have merged both practices into one. Cleaver, a law professor, has worked on cases such as the infamous frame-up of former political prisoner Geronimo ji-Jaga. Joan Gibbs, a former political prisoner, has worked for years as a legal scholar, activist, and administrator at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.

The Black Panther Party was a distinct training ground for young radical women and instilled in many a certain "can do" attitude that has transcended their years of service in the BPP. Their experiences in the Party prepared them for lives of activism and service. Joan Kelly (now Joan Kelly Williams), who headed the LA chapter's Free Breakfast Program for a time reports:

It's hard to describe what I did. I think all of us did so many different things. When I was in Los Angeles ... your focus could change daily. "So and so is in jail, you've got to run the Breakfast Program." ... men did do program work, I think that's the other illusion that people have is that we had a paramilitary underground and went off and offed pigs at night and the women got up and served breakfast and helped care for people. It is a little more comprehensive than that [audience and panelist laugh]. So, I remember somebody went to jail and I got responsibility in LA for the Breakfast Programs .... The clearest thing we could do was our programs. And if [the police] could keep enough people who serve breakfast in jail in the morning, and the kids got there and there was nobody serving breakfast, then the media could go on the 7 o'clock news and say, That Panther Breakfast Program doesn't work, it's all a fluke. Or whatever, or hoax. So we became very sophisticated. We could come back at you real quick in terms of strategies and ways to meet the challenges that we faced .... The conditions thrust women into roles of leadership early. [22]

Women like Kelly Williams functioned, from sheer necessity, as captains, field secretaries, section leaders, lieutenants, communications officers, and, with Elaine Brown's ascension after the self-imposed exile of Newton in 1974, as head of the entire organization. No other radical or revolutionary formation of that period could boast of such a pronounced range of female prominence.

This depth of revolutionary activist experience and leadership equipped a generation of women with a kind of palpable knowledge; informed and steeled a cadre of women; and prepared them well for the tasks that lay ahead. For example, the revered former political prisoner Ericka Huggins, who supervised the Intercommunal Youth Institute for nearly a decade, continues to work in the field of education as a professor at San Francisco State University and other institutions. She also works with HIV-exposed persons in her community. JoNina Abron, who was an editor of The Black Panther, later became managing editor of The Black Scholar, and is a tenured English professor at Western Michigan University. Regina B. Jennings, who was with the Oakland and Philadelphia branches, earned a doctorate in African American studies and now teaches at Franklin and Marshall College. [23]

Safiya A. Bukhari, a licensed paralegal, worked on behalf of ex-BPP political prisoners until her death in 2003. Kiilu Nyasha of the New Haven chapter is a brilliant artist who addresses political and cultural themes and hosts a popular radio program on Black and radical politics in San Francisco. Rosemari Mealy, who worked in the Philadelphia and New Haven branches, now works as a broadcaster on public radio and has earned her law degree. Rita Gaye Sisk of the Philadelphia branch is a prominent member of the Temple of the Black Messiah in Philadelphia. Cleo Silvers who was with the New York chapter and Young Lords Party is a community organizer and labor activist, who, like Bukhari, has done work on behalf of Black political prisoners. She is a member of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and is active in the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. She also co-chairs the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement (HRUM) and heads the Peace and Justice Anti-War Caucus of New York Local 1199C.

These women, and many unknown soldiers like them, the local Party defunct or in shambles, went back to their homes or adopted communities and continued to serve the needs of the people. They remain remarkable legacies of the Party.

International Impacts and Inspirations

Because the BPP inspired so much media coverage, it assumed an international profile that sparked imitators and admirers around the world. Political scientists Charles E. Jones and Judson L. Jeffries have examined the Party's impressive global reach:

The impact of the BPP transcended the borders of the United States. Panther activities served as a revolutionary exemplar for various oppressed indigenous groups in several foreign countries. Left-wing political formations in England (Black Panther Movement), Israel (Black Panther Party of Israel), Bermuda (Black Beret Cadre), Australia (Black Panther Party), and India (Dalit Panthers) drew from the organization founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in the United States. Members of the Black Beret Cadre formed in Bermuda in 1969 adopted the Panthers' signature black beret and sponsored liberation schools and political education classes. Similarly, the Black Panther Party of Israel created by Jews of Moroccan descent in 1971 implemented community services for the children in the slums of West Jerusalem. [24]

That so many radical and nationalist-type groups could borrow the imagery, name, and format of the BPP bespeaks the power and potency of the original organization. While few of these overseas groups had formal organizational ties to BPP headquarters in Oakland, California, by their very existence they helped project the Party's image and message of militant resistance and community service to the poor and oppressed deep into international consciousness. The BPP, perhaps proving the veracity of the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, had a global impact that moved radicals, nationalists, and revolutionaries worldwide to emulate some of their more positive attributes.

From Losers to Legends

If there is one unavoidable historical truth about the Black Panther Party, it is this: it lost its long battle for institutionalization and the primary realization of its revolutionary political objectives. It did not establish Black revolutionary power, due to reasons both internal and external.

That said, it experienced a somewhat curious transformation over the course of time, from loser into legend. The very existence of the Party seems to strengthen those who learn of it for the first time. This introduction usually comes not through popular sources of indoctrination -- schools and parents -- but through one's own effort.

This transformation has historical precedent. Consider the case of the Pan-Indian warrior Tecumseh. History concluded that the Shawnee warrior lost, and lost decisively, to the American "Long Knives." Of that, there can be little question. It is also true to say that he is remembered and respected today for the purity of his vision and his attempt to protect traditional, indigenous lands from Western, white domination. His lost struggle was against white lebensraum. Tecumseh and his valiant struggle have joined the annals of legend for generations of Native American, African American, and, indeed, American youth.

As evidence of the transcendence of Native American resistance and how it often finds home in the souls of Black folk, one need look no further than the late but explosively popular rap artist Tupac Shakur. The son of Afeni Shakur, a Black Panther and a veteran of the Panther 21, Tupac was named for an Amerindian warrior who fought against the Spanish colonizers of Peru, Tupac Amaru. A son of a Panther, he was born to let millions know of the unfairness and indignity of the life of his people, and he did so, with great talent and boundless passion.

Before his birth, his pregnant mother was esconced in the city jail called the Tombs. As she awaited a trial that could send her to prison for decades, she composed a gentle, heartfelt letter to her family. I do not know if Tupac ever got around to reading it. But a teenaged Panther in New York on loan from Philadelphia read it, and it made his heart weep with its beauty, its love, and its profound courage. Afeni Shakur wrote:

A Letter to Jamala, Lil Afeni, Sekwiya, and the unborn baby (babies) within my womb.

First let me tell you that this book [a collective autobiography of the Panther 21] was not my idea at all (as a matter of fact I was hardly cooperative). But I suppose one day you're going to wonder about all this mess that's been going on now and I just had to make sure you understood a few things.

I've learned a lot in two years about being a woman and it's for this reason that I want to talk to you. Joan [Bird -- another Panther 21 captive] and I, and all the brothers in jail, are caught up in this funny situation where everyone seems to be attacking everyone else and we're sort of in the middle looking dumb. I've seen a lot of people I knew and loved die in the past year or so and it's really been a struggle to remain unbitter.

February 8th when Joan and I came back to jail I was full of distrust, disappointment and disillusionment. But now the edges are rounded off a bit and I think I can understand why some things happened. I don't like most of it, but I do understand. I've discovered what I should have known a long time ago -- that change has to begin within ourselves -- whether there is a revolution today or tomorrow -- we still must face the problem of purging ourselves of the larceny that we have all inherited. I hope we do not pass it on to you because you are our only hope.

You must weigh our actions and decide for yourselves what was good and what was bad. It is obvious that somewhere we failed but I know it will not -- it cannot end here. There is too much evilness left. I cannot get rid of my dream of peace and harmony. It is for that dream that most of us have fought -- some bravely, some as cowards, some as heroes, and some as plain old crooks. Forgive us our mistakes because mostly they were mistakes which were made out of blind ignorance (sometimes arrogance). Judge us with empathy for we were (are) idealists and sometimes we're young and foolish.

I do not regret any of it -- for it taught me to be something that some people will never learn -- for the first time in my life I feel like a woman -- beaten, battered and scarred maybe, but isn't that what wisdom is truly made of. Help me to continue to learn -- only this time with a bit more grace for I am a poor example for anyone to follow because I have deviated from the revolutionary principles which I know to be correct. I wish you love.

Afeni Shakur (Mar. 20, 1971) [25]

There are, indeed, many legacies of the Black Panther Party. Perhaps the best of them are expressed in Afeni's letter to her unborn child: hope, empathy, knowledge of our imperfections, knowledge of our shortcomings, the continued will to resist -- and love.
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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:28 am


FOR ME, POLITICAL life began with the Black Panther Party.

When an older sister named Audrea handed me a copy of The Black Panther newspaper around the spring of 1968 my mind was promptly blown. It was as if my dreams had awakened and strolled into my reality.

I read and reread the issue, tenderly fingering each page as if it were the onion-skinned, tissue-like leaf of a holy book. My eyes drank in the images of young Black men and women, their slim and splendid bodies clothed in black leather, their breasts bedecked with buttons proclaiming rebellion, resistance, and revolution.

I almost couldn't believe my eyes as I scanned photos of armed Black folks proclaiming their determination to fight or die for the Black Revolution.

It would be some months before I would formally join something called the Black Panther Party, but, in truth, I joined it months before, when I saw my first Black Panther newspaper.

I joined it in my heart.

I was all of fourteen years old.

A downtown bookstore, Robin's, squeezed between a restaurant and a discount clothing shop, became my Mecca, for there every week, like clockwork, the "holy book" would descend, like manna from a Black, revolutionary heaven -- the latest issue of The Black Panther!

I would buy a copy and then scrounge the shelves for books; Black books, radical books, all kinds of books. The guy at the cash register would occasionally growl (or bellow), "This ain't a library, kid! Ya gonna buy sumpin' or what?" I usually ignored him, and went back to my reading.

Here I found the writings of Frantz Fanon, of Malcolm X, of Kwame Nkrumah; the poetry of Langston Hughes; the prose of Richard Wright; and the magnificent example of Paul Robeson. I also found several other young men (although most were older than I) who would be among the first to join the organization that had set my heart aflame.

In many ways, it is fitting that the first quasi-"office" of the Black Panther Party in Philadelphia was neither a tenement apartment, nor a basement, nor a bar, but a bookstore, a realm for the exchange of ideas. For there our minds first met.

It is striking that the present age offers scant opportunities for young rebels (and the young are ever innately rebellious!) to meet, to talk, to think, to exchange. For one thing, some bookstores, though certainly not all, are part of larger, often times global, commercial networks -- they are not so much meeting places as buying places.

The internet, while pervasive in its reach, diminishes, rather than enhances social contact. One never really knows who is the recipient of a communication. Moreover, the internet is interlaced with snoops of the ubiquitous State, sniffing for any hint of rebellion as demonstrated by Project Echelon. This official paranoia is, in a sense, a reflection of a cultural change wrought by time.

The age of rebellion was succeeded by an age of conservatism; Huey the rebel devolves into Huggy Bear, the snitch character of popular (white, corporate) culture.

And yet. And yet ... There are cycles in history.

No empire foresees its tumble into time's abyss. The Roman Empire didn't. The British Empire once boasted that "the sun will never set on our glorious empire." It has set now, hasn't it? I recently read a remarkable book about the six hundred years of the vast Ottoman Empire. At its apogee it stood as the mightiest empire on Earth; it conquered the eastern home of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine capital of Constantinople with relative ease, and renamed it as Istanbul. Yet, this empire went out with a whimper, in a burst of familial madness, of men who became deadly to their families, and became, finally, irrelevant.

The lesson of history is inescapable -- empires rise; empires fall. No empire lasts forever. Mahatma Gandhi once noted:

It is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration. [1]

At its heart, the Black Panther Party was a profoundly anti-imperial project, a reflection of the deep ambivalence that dwells in Black hearts and arises from African American experience. It was but a reflection of a consciousness that had been active in Black communal life for several generations. Given the common roots of Black communities in the Americas, that is, despite the shading of Spanish-, Dutch-, Portuguese-, or English-speaking cultures they all can be traced to the Atlantic slave trade, it would be surprising if there were not solidarity between these communities.

Thus, in the 1930s, US Black newspapers reported on the lives and struggles of Afro-Cubans (then called la raza de color -- the colored race). [2] Thus, the Black press wrote of the lives and achievements of people like Antonio Maceo, the celebrated mulatto general who fought in the Cuban War of Independence against Spain. The work of the great poet Nicholas Guillen was also translated and circulated there. African Americans of distinction, like Mary McLeod Bethune and Langston Hughes, visited Cuba to see how Black folks lived under a different regime.

This internationalism reached perhaps its highest point in the life of the Black Panther Party with the establishment of a virtual embassy in Algiers.

The Black Panther Party didn't create international solidarity, but tried to do its best to extend it.

Yet internationalism didn't define the Party -- internal resistance to the status quo did.

Nor does it seem accidental that this resistance emerged when the Empire was engaged in an external war against Vietnam.

This timing, too, had a historical precedent in Black life. For, during World War II, Black Americans engaged in what was called the Double V campaign, which demanded victory on two fronts: at home and abroad. Thus, a previous generation utilized the language of war to symbolize the battles Black Americans faced inside imperial space.

The Black Panther Party took that language further -- enriched by anticolonial and anti-imperialist struggles abroad.

These impulses, it is important to note, while enriched and, perhaps, informed by external events, did not proceed from them. These were internal responses to the lived experiences of Black Americans in a land where life seemed that of the eternal alien.

Moreover, that deep feeling, that certain sense of alienation lives still in millions of Black hearts at this hour, in every ghetto in America -- and elsewhere. The repression of the State muted that expression, driving some of it underground.

Yet, as Freud has often argued, writing on another kind of repression to be sure, that which is repressed will eventually find expression.

The Black Panther Party may indeed be history, but the forces that gave rise to it are not.

They wait, for the proper season, to arise again.
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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:34 am



Mumia Abu-Jamal speaking at the memorial for Chairman Fred Hampton, December 1969, in the Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia.


Jon Pinkett, Barbara Easley Cox, and Kentu share a frame.


Barbara Cox reads to a child during a BPP function.


BPP member Rene Johnson raps with community in front of the office.


Black Panther meeting in Philadelphia, summer 1970.







Photos of the "Pilots for Panthers" demonstration in Philadelphia supporting Eldridge Cleaver's call to exchange imprisoned Panthers for US POWs held in Vietnam by the NLF (see p. 107).




Rolando "Montae" Hearn and Gladys are married in the BPP office. Captain Reggie Schell in background.


Montae and Billy O. in the office.


Captain Reggie Schell speaking at the memorial for Fred Hampton.


Black Panther Milt McGriff raps to a brother in a record shop.


Officer of the Day (OD) Jon Pinkett explains something to Sister Madelyn Coleman.



Two photos of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Lieutenant of Information, working in the BPP office typing up a leaflet for the Philadelphia branch.


Michael "Cetewayo" Tabor of the New York 21 sitting and watching at the Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, September 1970.


Sam Napier, the late, martyred Distribution Manager of The Black Panther; former Black Panther editor "Big Man" Howard; and Philadelphia Panther Jon Pinkett.


Black Panther Madelyn Coleman catches up on some reading.


Philadelphia Black Panther member "Fish" shows bruises on his face after being beaten at the 55th and Pine Street police station.


Temple University, Urban Archives. Mumia Abu-Jamal on the phone in the Philadelphia Black Panther office. This picture originally ran on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer, January 4, 1970. All other photographs taken from contact sheets by Philadelphia Black Panther Party photographer Steve Wilson (1969-70).



nationalist activity, and interested in counterintelligence, to coordinate this program. This Agent will be responsible for the periodic progress letters being requested, but each Agent working this type of case should participate in the formulation of counterintelligence operations.


For maximum effectiveness of the Counterintelligence Program, and to prevent wasted effort, long-range goals are being set.

1. Prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups. In unity there is strength; a truism that is no less valid for all its triteness. An effective coalition of black nationalist groups might be the first step toward a real "Mau Mau" in America, the beginning of a true black revolution.

2. Prevent the rise of a "messiah" who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. [DELETE] might have been such a "messiah;" he is the martyr of the movement today. [DELETE] and [DELETE] all aspire to this position. [DELETE] [DELETE] is less of a threat because of his age. [DELETE] could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed "obedience" to "white, liberal doctrines" (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. [DELETE] has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.

3. Prevent violence on the part of black nationalist groups. This is of primary importance, and is, of course, a goal of our investigative activity; it should also be a goal of the Counterintelligence Program. Through counterintelligence it should be possible to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them before they exercise their potential for violence.

4. Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability, by discrediting them to three separate segments of the community. The goal of discrediting black nationalists must be handled tactically in three ways. You must discredit these groups and individuals to, first, the responsible Negro community. Second, they must be discredited to the white community, ...

FBI memo of February 29 and May 4, 1968: The infamous "prevent the rise of a 'messiah'" memorandum.



both the responsible community and to "liberals" who have vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalist simply because they are Negroes. Third, these groups must be discredited in the eyes of Negro radicals, the followers of the movement. This last area requires entirely different tactics from the first two. Publicity about violence tendencies and radical statements merely enhances black nationalists to the last group; it adds "respectability" in a different way.

5. A final goal should be to prevent the long-range growth of militant black nationalist organizations, especially among youth. Specific tactics to prevent these groups from converting young people must be developed.

Besides these five goals counterintelligence is a valuable part of our regular investigative program as it often produces positive information.


Primary targets of the Counterintelligence Program, Black Nationalist-Hate Groups, should be the most violent and radical groups and their leaders. We should emphasize those leaders and organizations that are nationwide in scope and are most capable of disrupting this country. These targets should include the radical and violence-prone leaders, members, and followers of the:


UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT Memorandum Director, FBI Date: 2-14-69



Enclosed for the Bureau are two copies and for Springfield one copy of a letter to "SISTER."

The following counter-intelligence activity is being proposed by the St. Louis Division to be directed against [DELETE] He is former [DELETE] of the BLACK LIBERATORS (Bufile 157-10356), [DELETE] [DELETE]. The activity attempts to alienate him from his wife and cause suspicion among the BLACK LIBERATORS that they have a dangerous troublemaker in their midst.


[DELETE] is currently separated from his wife, [DELETE [DELETE] who lives with their two daughters in [DELETE]. He occasionally sends her money and she appears to be a faithful, loving wife, who is apparently convinced that her husband is performing a vital service to the Black world and, therefore, she must endure this separation without bothering him. She is, to all indications, an intelligent, respectable young mother, who is active in the AME Methodist Church in [DELETE].

FBI memo of February 14, 1969: Valentine's Day memo detailing a COINTELPRO against the Black Liberators of St. Lows (see p. 107) and noting anticipated results.



The enclosed letter was prepared from a penmanship, spelling, and vocabulary style to imitate that of the average Black Liberator member. It contains several accusations which should cause [DELETE] wife great concern. The letter is to be mailed in a cheap, unmarked envelope with no return address and sent from St. Louis to [DELETE. [DELETE]. Since her letters to [DELETE] are usually sent via the Black Liberator Headquarters, any member would have access to getting her address from one of her envelopes. This address is available to the St. Louis Division.

Her response, upon receipt of this letter, is difficult to predict and the counter-intelligence effect will be nullified if she does not discuss it with him. Therefore, to insure that [DELETE] and the Black Liberators are made aware that the letter was sent, the below follow-up action is necessary:

St. Louis will furnish [DELETE] with a machine copy of the actual letter that is sent. Attached to this copy will be a neat typed note saying:

"A mutual friend made this available without [DELETE] knowledge. I understand she recently recieved this letter from St. Louis. I suggest you look into this matter.

God Bless You!"

This note would give the impression that somehow one of [DELETE] close friends, probably a minister, obtained a copy of the letter and made it available to [DELETE]. The above material is to be mailed by the [DELETE] Division at [DELETE] anonymously in a suitable envelope with no return address to: [DELETE]


The following results are anticipated following the execution of the above-counter-intelligence activity:

1. Ill feeling and possibly a lasting distrust will be brought about between [DELETE] and his wife. The concern over what to do about it may detract from his time spent in the plots and plans of [DELETE.] He may even decide to spend more time with his wife and children and less time in Black Nationalist activity.

2. The Black Liberators will waste a great deal of time trying to discover the writer of the letter. It is possible that their not-too subtle investigation will lose present members and alienate potential ones.

3. Inasmuch as Black Liberator strength is ebbing at its lowest level, this action may well be the "death-blow."


Bureau authority is requested to initiate the above-described activity.



Us Black Liberators are trained to respect Black Women and special are wifes and girls. Brother [DELETE] keeps tellin the Brothers this but he dont treet you that way. I only been in the organisatoin 2 months but [DELETE] been maken it here with Sister Marva Bass & Sister Tony and than he gines as this jine bout their better in bed then your [ILLEGIBLE] how he keeps you off his back by senden you a little dough ever now an then -- He says he gotta send you money the Draft board gonna chuck him in the army somethen. This isn't rite and were sayen that is treeten you wrong --

A Black Liberator

Photocopy of the letter to the head of the Black Liberator's wife prepared in the "penmanship, spelling, and vocabulary style to imitate that of the average Black Liberator member."





SUBJECT: WESLEY COOK, aka EM-BPP (Bufile 157-15510) (PHfile 157-3937)


DATE: 12/14/72

Re Bureau letter to New York dated 10/16/72, New York airtel to Bureau dated 11/15/72, both communications captioned, "Black Liberation Army, EM-UGW", Philadelphia airtel and LHM to Bureau dated 6/30/72 and Philadelphia letter to New York dated 7/31/72, both communications captioned, "WESLEY COOK, aka".

Telephone number 215-627-0378 from Document Source R-14 was furnished by referenced New York airtel dated 11/15/72. The telephone number was obtained by New York in a search of apartment occupied by [DELETE] and other BPP-CF and Black Liberation Army Associates.

[DELETE] This information is confidential and should not be made public without the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum directed to [DELETE], Philadelphia, Pa.

Philadelphia Division opened a case under, "Unsub, Subscriber to Telephone Number 215-627-0378, PH file 157-7240".

3-Bureau (157-15510) (AM) 1-157-10555 (BLA) 2-New York (RM) [ILLEGIBLE]-Philadelphia 1-157-3937 (COOK) 1-157-6362 (BLA) 1-157-5420 (BULF) 1-157-6296 (BPP-CF) 1-157-7420 [delete] B7C [delete]

Two pages of FBI memo of December 14, 1972, apparently linking Mumia Abu-Jamal to the Black Liberation Army (BLA) as a result of his home phone number being found in a search of an apartment occupied by BPP and BLA "associates."


PH 157-3927 157-6362

EDITH L. COOK, 718 Wallace Street, Philadelphia, is the mother of WESLEY COOK, aka. COOK is an ADEX subject from Philadelphia, who has been associated with the BPP and in the past has written articles for the BPP-CF newspaper, "Babylon". 718 Wallace Street has been the address utilized by the subject in the past.

On 11/24/72, [DELETE] Civil Disobedience Unit, Philadelphia Police Department, advised that on 10/13/72 during the trial of RUSSELL SHOATZ, COOK was arrested while in the possession of a six inch bladed Exacto knife. SHOATZ was on trial on charges of homicide of Philadelphia Police park guard Sergeant FRANK VON COLLN. COOK attempted to attend the above trial and prior to entering the court room he was found to be in possession of the Exacto knife. COOK insisted that his address was 1928 West Columbia Avenue, the headquarters address of the BULF. BULF, an organization with aims similar to those of the BPP, is headed by RICHARD REGINALD SCHELL, former Defense Captain of the BPP in Philadelphia. COOK was arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department and charged with Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon.

[DELETE] a source who is familiar with BPP activities in Philadelphia, has continually advised that COOK is unknown, and he has never been known to associate with the BPP in Philadelphia. The source has also been unable to link COOK with the BULF, BPP-CF or the BLA.

In January 1971 COOK refused to be interviewed by Bureau agents and further attempts have not been made to interview him since that time.

Philadelphia has a pending case on the subject and further efforts will be made to determine subject's associates and extent of alliance with BULF, BPP-CF and BLA. Results of investigation will be reported under individual caption.


Page two of the memo notes his arrest while trying to attend the trial of Russell Shoatz. A third page (not reproduced here) referring to his arrest at the trial is almost entirely blacked out.
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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:35 am



1. Seale, Seize the Time, 13-14.

2. Seale, Seize the Time, 14.

3. Seale, Seize the Time, 25.

4. Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, 96.

5. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 113.

6. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 71.

7. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 71.

8. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 113.

9. Seale, Seize the Time, 4; Marine, The Black Panthers, 12; Hilliard, This Side of Glory, 26.

10. Hilliard, This Side of Glory, 20.

11. Segal, The Black Diaspora, 142.

12. Moses, Classic Black Nationalism, 114.

13. Foner, E., Reconstruction, 285.

14. Foner, E., Reconstruction, 285.

15. Moses, Classic Black Nationalism, 9.

16. Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1781-32). Quoted in Moses, Classic Black Nationalism, 46.

17. Moses, Classic Black Nationalism, 210 (emphasis added).

18. Moses, Classic Black Nationalism, 212.

19. Moses, Classic Black Nationalism, 209.

20. Foner, E., Reconstruction, 45.

21. Foner, E., Reconstruction, 598-99.

22. A briefly attempted appellation of the post-Nation of Islam formation, the World Community of Islam in the West, led by the son of Elijah Muhammad, known as Warith Deen Muhammad.

23. Equiano, Life of Olaudah Equiano, 31.

24. Katz, Breaking the Chains, 11-12.

25. Linebaugh and Rediker, Many-Headed Hydra, 194.

26. Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, 180-92. Quoted in Linebaugh and Rediker, Many-Headed Hydra, 194.

27. Frass, Matthew: "The First Rhode Island Regiment," http://www.nps.gov/colo/ Ythanout/firstri.html; Wiencek, Imperfect God, as discussed on Booknotes, CSPAN 11 November 2003.

28. Lee, Butch. Jailbreak Out of History, 21-22.

29. Kelley and Lewis, To Make Our World Anew,120.

30. Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 86-87.

31. The term buckra was common in Black speech in the US South and in Jamaica to denote whites. Although its derivation is unclear, some suggest it arose during slavery days to reflect how brutal treatments, and whippings made one's "back raw." Harriet Tubman is quoted in McPherson's The Negro's Civil War as using the term to describe the Southern secessionists during the Civil War: "Den I heard 'twas the Yankee ship [the Wabasbh] firin, out de big eggs, and dey had come to set us free. Den I praised the Lord. He come an, put he little finger in de work, an, dey Sesh Buckra all go ... " (58-59).

32. Fresia, Toward an American Revolution, 25.

33. Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, 22.

34. Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, 213.

35. Judges 15:14-15, 20 (AV).

36. Wilmore, Black Religion and Black Radicalism,77-78.

37. Segal, The Black Diaspora, 144.

38. Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, 222. Quoted in Segal, The Black Diaspora, 144.

39. McReynolds, The Seminoles, 75 (emphasis added).

40. McReynolds, The Seminoles, 75.

41. Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, 259.

42. Kelley and Lewis, To Make Our World Anew, 197.

43. McReynolds, The Seminoles, 89.

44. McReynolds, The Seminoles, 40.

45. Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 5-6.

46. Wright, Creeks and Seminoles, 218.

47. DuBois, John Brown, 131.

48. DuBois, John Browm, 131.

49. Anderson, Voice from Harper's Ferry, 98.

50. Anderson, Voice from Harper's Ferry, 98-99.

51. Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun (Act 1, Scene 3).

52. Matthews, Honoring the Ancestors, vii-viii (emphasis added).

53. Matthews, Honoring the Ancestors, viii.


1. Forbes, E., We have No Country, 121.

2. Cone, Martin and Malcolm, 222.

3. Cone, Martin and Malcolm, 223.

4. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 48.

5. I have used the term mass violence rather than the elite's preferred, and more projected, term, riot, because this term is usually given a somewhat pejorative connotation, attempting to mask the political objections and objectives of the agents involved in such acts.

6. Feagin, Racist America, 63.

7. http:/ /www.pbs.org/wnet/aaworld/ reference/articles/ red_summer.html

8. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 9.

9. Forbes, E., We Have No Country,134.

10. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 304.

11. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 305.

12. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 51-52.

13. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 142.

14. Moses, Classical Black Nationalism, 108-9.

15. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 114-15.

16. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 51-52.

17. Forbes, E., We Have No Country,150 (emphasis added).

18. Quoted in Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 114.

19. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 114.

20. Zinn, People's History, 449.

21. Zinn, People's History, 450.

22. Zinn, People's History, 451.

23. Seale, Seize the Times, 80.

24. Seale, Seize the Times, 139.

25. Seale, Seize the Times, 139.

26. Seale, Seize the Times, 136.

27. Seale, Seize the Times, 139.

28. Smith, William Gardner, Return to Black America, 173. Quoted in Singh, "'Undeveloped Country' of the Left," 63.

29. Newton, To Die For the People, 8.

30. This passage was written from memory. Years later it was learned that Frankhouser was, in fact, an informant for the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division of the Treasury Department) and, as such, had snitched on the Klan, the Minutemen, and various other right-wing groups with which he was affiliated (Donner, Age of Surveillance, 346).


1. McPherson, The Negro's Civil War, 259.

2. Zinn, People's History, 248.

3. Zinn, People's History, 49-50.

4. Zinn, People's History, 213.

5. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 191.

6. Abdy, Edward. Journal of Residence and Tour in the United States. Quoted in Forbes, E., But We Have No Country, 191.

7. Ignatiev, How the Irish, 124.

8. Ignatiev, How the Irish, 125-26.

9. Ignatiev, How the Irish, 155.

10. Ignatiev, How the Irish, 134.

11. Ignatiev, How the Irish, 134.

12. Ignatiev, How the Irish, 144.

13. Forbes, E., We Have No Country, 150-51.

14. Irons, People's History of the Supreme Court, 152 (emphasis added).

15. Prigg v. PA, 41 US 536, 625-26 (1842).

16. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 90-91.

17. The Black Panther, April 6, 1970, 17.


1. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 110.

2. Cleaver, Soul On Ice, 27.

3. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 51-52.

4. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide 120-21.

5. Seale, A Lonely Rage, 153, 154.

6. Seale, A Lonely Rage, 154.

7. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 67.

8. Neal, "Church and Survival Programs," 11.

9. Newton, To Die For the People, 89.

10. Newton, To Die For the People, 89.

11. Abron, "Serving the People," 184.

12. Washington, Other Sheep, 128.

13. Washington, Other Sheep, 134.

14. Latino/Latina. The @ sign is used in multi-gender circumstances to represent the o and a endings.

15. Freed, Agony in New Haven, 113-14.

16. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 296.

17. Cluster, Should Have Served, 61.

18. Singh, "Black Panther Party," 32.

19. Singh, "Black Panther Party," 84-85.

20. Fresia, Toward an American Revolution, 28.

21. Fresia, Toward an American Revolution, 50.

22. "The People and the People Alone Were the Motive Power in the Making of the History of the People's Revolutionary Constitutional Convention Plenery Session!" The Black Panther, September 12, 1970, 3.

23. Newton, To Die For the People, 90-91.

24. Newton, To Die For the People, 31.

25. Newton, To Die For the People, 31 (emphasis added).

26. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 253.

27. Fredrickson, White Supremacy, xi.

28. Fredrickson, White Supremacy, 4-5.

29. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 206.

30. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 260-61.

31. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 259.

32. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 259.

33. This passage written from memory.


1. Newton, The Black Panther, July 20, 1967, 5.

2. Brown, Taste of Power, 252. Soul Breaker was the prisoner's name for the solitary confinement cell in Alameda County Jail, California.

3. Brown, Taste of Power, 252.

4. Brown, Taste of Power, 252.

5. Brown, Taste of Power, 253.

6. Seale, Seize the Times, 59 (emphasis added).

7. Mao, Quotations, 58.

8. Hayes, "All Power to the People," 168.

9. Anthony, Picking Up the Gun, 21.

10. Hayes, "All Power to the People," 167.

11. Swearingen, FBI Secrets, 83.

12. Newton, To Die For the People, 92.

13. Singh, "Black Panther Parry," 56.

14. Eldridge Cleaver, "Letter to My Black Brother in Vietnam," The Black Panther, May 2, 1970. This long article was reprinted as a pamphlet and sent to Black veterans and soldiers fighting in Vietnam. (Cleaver, K "Back to Africa," 233.)

15. The Black Panther, November 1, 1969, 12-13.

16. The Black Panther, January 19, 1971, 10-11. That said, there were Black Panthers in Vietnam. They organized branches by themselves and wore Panther buttons on their US uniforms. They didn't care whether they were "officially" recognized by California, they just did what they thought was right.

17. The Black Panther, August 23, 1969.

18. Washington Post December 28, 1969, A-18.

19. Washington Post, February 1, 1970, A-13.

20. Cleaver, K., "Back to Africa," 214.

21. Cleaver, K., "Back to Africa," 214.

22. Zinn, People's History, 593.

23. Donner, Age of Surveillance, 178.

24. This passage was written from memory.

25. Cleaver, K., "Back to Africa," 235.

26. US. Dept. of Justice, FBI report to Attorney General, July 15, 1969:4

27. Donner, Age of Surveillance, 83.


1. Barenblatt v. US. 360 US. 109; dissent, 150 (1959). In light of the revelation that Black was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his younger manhood, one might wonder at the extent of his knowledge of "groups which advocate extremely unpopular social or government innovations." Despite his KKK membership, Black's nomination was opposed for being too "radical," that is, too much in favor of the causes of the poor. The Chicago Tribune would denounce Roosevelt for the nomination, calling it "the worst he could find." Irons, People's History of the Supreme Court, 326.

2. Newsweek, February, 1969.

3. US Dept. of Justice, FBI Report to Attorney General, July 15, 1969:4.

4. Hoover, House Subcom. Testimony; April 17, 1969:68-70, 99.

5. Brown, Taste of Power, 200.

6. Grady-Willis, "Black Panther Party," 372. Interestingly, another US Senate document, published in 1976, displays exhibits which feature other misspellings, at least in the proposed letter sent to FBL HQ on January 12, 1969. The document, of several pages, includes the following interesting language:

"Consequently, Chicago now recommends the following letter be sent [Blank] handwritten, on plain paper: 'Brother. ... I think you ought to know what I'd do if I was you. You might hear from me again.'" We need not be psychic to intuit the intentions of the FBI. The document itself makes these clear. "It is believed the above may intensify the degree of animosity between the two groups and occasion [Blank] to take retalitory[sic] action which could disrupt the BPP or lead to reprisals against its leadership."

The FBI, then, under the claimed objective of "preventing black militant violence," wrote to the Rangers, telling them the Panthers were trying to "hit" them, in a very bald attempt to spark "retaliatory action" against the BPP, or, at the very least, "reprisals" from disgruntled BPP members against their own leadership. (Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 433).

7. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 58.(emphasis added).

8. Zinn, People's History, 455.

9. Swearingen, FBI Secrets, 29.

10. Swearingen, FBI Secrets, 29 (emphasis added).

11. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearings, vol. 6, 9 (emphasis added).

12. Each of the following case studies appears in documents that the author has studed, either a true and correct copy of a government file, testimony before a Senate subcommittee, or a published artifact that survives from the period.

13. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 25.

14. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 161-62.

15. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 162.

16. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 163.

17. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 154.

18. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 164.

19. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 165.

20. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 165.

21. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 70.

22. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 77-78.

23. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 617-21 (emphasis added).

24. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 617-19.

25. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 621.

26. The full name of the Church Committee is the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities: Frank Church, Idaho, Chairman.

27. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 23.

28. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearings, vol. 6, 24.

29. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 24.

30. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 49-50 (emphasis added).

31. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 411-12.

32. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 28.

33. Perkus, COINTELPRO, 23.

34. Sen. Sel. Com. Hearing, vol. 6, 25.

35. Swearingen, FBI Secrets, 82-83. In Swearingen's text, the names of fellow agents are aliases, which he italicized.

36. Swearingen, FBI Secrets, 82-83.

37. Anthony, Spitting in the Wind, 37.

38. Anthony, Spitting in the Wind, 37.

39. Anthony, Spitting in the Wind, 38.

40. Anthony, Spitting in the Wind, 38 (emphasis added).

41. "8 Panthers Held in Murder Plot," New Haven Register, May 22, 1969.

42. Freed, Agony in New Haven, 25.

43. Freed, Agony in New Haven, 251-53.

44. Among the names Sams claimed was Dingiswayo, the name of the eighteenth-century Chief of the Mthethwa Confederacy in Southern Africa (where a young Shaka learned the arts of war leading to the rise of the Zulus).

45. Freed, Agony in New Haven, 255.

46. Freed, Agony in New Haven, 253.

47. Freed, Agony in New Haven, 25.

48. Tackwood, Glass House Tapes, 30.

49. Tackwood, Glass House Tapes, 30 (emphasis added).

50. Tackwood, Glass House Tapes, 46-48.

51. Tackwood, Glass House Tapes, 48.

52. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 65.

53. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 66.

54. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 66.

55. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 68.

56. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 403.

57. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 58.

58. Shakur, Assata, 222.

59. Zinn, People's History, 455.

60 The Harris Survey Yearbook of Public Opinion, 1970.

61. James, Shadow Boxing,112.

62. James, Shadow Boxing, 112.

63. This figure is provided by long-time Party member Forbes, F., "Why I Joined the Black Panther Party," 237. Forbes counts from 1966-1970.

64. Lule, Eternal Stories, 65-66. See notes 13 and 15 in Lule's text for extensive sources.

65. Reed, "Another Day at the Front," 193.

66. Churchill, COINTELPRO Papers, 215.

67. Citizen's Commission to Investigate the FBI, "Complete Collection," 8-9.

68. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 60.

69. Churchill, Agents of Repression, 60.

70. Sen. Sel. Com. Hear., vol. 6,61-2 (emphasis added).


1. Eugene, "Moral Values," 317.

2. Pearson, Shadow of the Panther, 179.

3. Pearson, Shadow of the Panther, 344.

4. Henderson, "Lumpenproletariat as Vanguard," 188.

5. Jones, Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 4.

6. Jones, Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 11.

7. Cleaver, K., "Women, Power, and Revolution," 125-26.

8. Cleaver, E., "Message to Sister Erica Huggins," The Black Panther, July 5, 1969. In the article Cleaver spells Ericka's name without the k.

9. Cleaver, E., "Message to Sister Erica Huggins."

10. Foner, P., Black Panthers Speak, 6.

11. Cleaver, K., "Women, Power, and Revolution," 126.

12. Balagoon, Look For Me, 293.

13. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 84.

14. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 84.

15. Balagoon, Look For Me, 293.

16. Matthews, "No One Ever Asks," 289.

17. Balagoon, Look For Me, 287.

18. Balagoon, Look For Me, 292 (emphasis added).

19. Matthews, "No One Ever Asks," 291.

20. Pearson, Shadow of the Panther, 179.

21. LeBlanc-Ernest, "The Most Qualified Person," 307-78.

22. Seale, A Lonely Rage; Quoted in LeBlanc- Ernest, 'The Most Qualified Person," 309.

23. Jennings, "Why I Joined the Party," 262-63.

24. Jennings, "Why I Joined the Party," 255.

25. Jennings, "Why I Joined the Party," 260.

26. Jennings, "Why I Joined the Party," 263.

27. Brown, Taste of Power, 368-70.

28. Brown, Taste of Power, 371.

29. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings."44-5. Bukhari's account is drawn from an unpublished manuscript of her "Reflections, Musings, and Political Opinions," ca. 1997.

30. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 5, 6.

31. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 6.

32. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 6.

33. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 7.

34. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 9.

35. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 36-52.

36. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 37, 42.

37. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 43.

38. Bukhari's original footnote text reads:

"The Black Panthers split in 1971. From that time until 1976 there existed an East Coast and West Coast Black Panther Party. For purposes of this writing, the Black Panther Party was destroyed in 1971."

39. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 44, 45.

40. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 47, 48.

41. Singh, "Black Panther Party," 87.

42. Barbara Easley Cox, personal communication with the author, 2003.

43. Barbara Easley Cox, personal communication with the author, 2003.

44. Cleaver, E., "Message to Sister Erica Huggins."

45. Naima Major, personal communication with the author, 2003.

46. Rosemari Mealy, from four page letter to the author, December 28, 2003.

47. This section is drawn from memory.

48. Brown, Taste of Power, 260.

49. Cleaver, E., Soul On Ice, 282; Cleaver, E., "Message to Sister Erica Huggins."

50. Cleaver, E., "Message to Sister Erica Huggins."


1. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 51.

2. Jennings, "Why I Joined the Party," 240.

3. Forbes, F, "Point No.7," 231.

4. Forbes, F, "Point No.7," 232-33.

5. Forbes, F, "Point No.7," 233.

6. Forbes, F, "Point No.7," 224-25.

7. Forbes, F, "Point No.7," 226-27.

8. Cluster, Should Have Served That Cup, 65.

9. Washington, Other Sheep I Have, 126-27.

10. Freed, Agony in New Haven, 34-35.

11. This passage was written from memory.


1. Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 3 (emphasis in original).

2. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 346-47.

3. Grady-Willis, "The Black Panther Party," 366; Fletcher et al., Still Black, S till Strong, 18.

4. Exhibit 5 in Black Panther Parry, Pt.1: Investigation of Kansas City Chapter; National Organization Data, Hearings Before Committee on Internal Security, Mar. 4-5, 10, 1970 (Wash., DC: US Gov't Print Off., 1970), p. 2805) emphasis added.

5. Papke, Heretics in the Temple, 120.

6. Shakur, Assata, 232.

7. Kleffner, ''Interview with Geronimo."

8. Lapham, "Notebook: Power Points."

9. From FBI Memo from HQ to San Francisco field office, February 24, 1971. Quoted in Newton, War Against the Panthers, 68-69.

10. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 296.

11. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 355.

12. Cleaver, K., "Back to Africa," 237.

13. On the Purge of Geronimo from the Black Panther Party," The Black Panther, January 23, 1971, 7.

14. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 355 (emphasis added).

15. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 356.

16. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 356.

17. FBI Memo from HQs to Philadelphia field office; August 19, 1970. Quoted in Newton, War Against the Panthers, 58.

18. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 356.

19. Shakur, Assata, 231.

20. Shakur, Assata, 231-32.

21. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 358-59.

22. Brown, Taste of Power, 252.

23. Hilliard, This Side of Glory, 180.

24. Hilliard, This Side of Glory, 120-22.

25. Johnson, "Explaining the Demise," 404.

26. Johnson, "Explaining the Demise," 404.


1. Carmichael, Black Power, 58-59.

2. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 277.

3. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 358.

4. Bukhari, "Reflections, Musings," 86-88 (emphasis added).

5. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 222-23.

6. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 169.

7. Hilliard, Huey Newton Reader, 222-23.

8. Schell, 67; I left the Black Panther Party in late 1971-early 1972 and participated in this collective-MAJ.

9. LeBlanc-Ernest, "The Most Qualified Person," 326. Njeri's son, Fred Hampton, Jr., did time as a political prisoner. An outstanding speaker like his father, "Young Chairman Fred" is known to many as a hip-hop activist and through the Dead Prez song "Behind Enemy Lines."

10. Jones, Blauk Panther Party Reconsidered, 6.

11. http://www.adl.org/learn/Ext_US/Black_ Panther. asp; http://www.newblackpantherparty.com

12. http://www.adl.org/learn/Ext_US/Black_ Panther. asp; http://www.newblackpantherparty.com

13. Jones, Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 6.

14. The Black Panther Collective The Black Panther International News Service, 1:5 (1998), 12.

15. Heike Kleffner, "Interview with Geronimo," Race and Class [35:1] 1993.

16. Carr, Bad, 233. Citation is to an unsigned afterword completed in 1993.

17. CRIP informant (Br. Amir) to author, December 2003.

18. Shakur, S., Monster, 304.

19. Balagoon, Look For Me, 285-86.

20. Cross, "Stages of Black Identity," 324.

21. Balagoon, Look For Me, 286.

22. Williams, J., "The Black Panthers of Oakland."

23. LeBlanc-Ernest, "The Most Qualified Person," 325-26.

24. Jones, "Don't Believe the Hype," 37.

25. Balagoon, Look For Me, 360-61.


1. Roberston, Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations, 167.

2. Frank A. Guridy, "From Solidarity to Cross-Fertilization: Afro-Cuban/ African American Interaction during the 1930s and 1940s," Radical History Review (Fall 2003), 20.
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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:36 am


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Abron, JoNina M., "'Serving the People:' The Survival Programs of the Black Panther Party." In Jones, ed., Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 177-192.

Anderson, Osbourne P.A Voice From Harper's Ferry. New York: World View, 1974.

Anthony, Earl. Picking Up the Gun: A Report on the Black Panthers. New York: Dial, 1970.

---. Spitting in the Wind: The True Story Behind the Violent Legacy of the Black Panther Party. Malibu, CA: Roundtable, 1990.

Aptheker, Herbert. American Negro Slave Revolts. New York: International, 1943.

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Booker, Chris. "Lumpenization: A Critical Error of the Black Panther Party." In Jones, ed., Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 337-362.

Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. New York: Anchor, 1992.

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Carmichael, Stokely (Kwame Ture) and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. New York: Vintage, 1967.

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Churchill, Ward and Jim Vander Wall. Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Cambridge, MA: South End, 1990.

---. The COINFELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States. Cambridge, MA: South End, 1990.

Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI. 1972. "The Complete Collection of Political Documents Ripped-Off From the F.B.I. Office in Media, PA, March 8, 1971." WIN.

Cleaver, Eldridge. "Message to Sister Erica Huggins of the Black Panther Party," The Black Panther, July 5, 1969.

---. Soul on Ice. New York: Dell, 1970.

Cleaver, Kathleen Neal. "Back to Africa: The Evolution of the International Section of the Black Panther Party (1969-1970)." In Jones, ed., Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 211-254.

---. "Women, Power, and Revolution." In Cleaver, K., ed., Liberation, Imagination, 123-127.

Cleaver, Kathleen and George Katsiaficas, eds. Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party: A New Look at the Panthers and their Legacy. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Cluster, Dick, ed. They Should Have Served that Cup of Coffee: 7 Radicals Remember the '60s. Boston: South End, 1979.

Cone, James H. Black Theology, vol. 3. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993.

---. Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1991.

Cross, Jr., WE., Thos. Parham and J.E. Helms. "The Stages of Black Identity Development: Nigrescence Models." In Jones, ed., Black Psychology, 319-338.

Donner, Frank. The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of Americas Political Intelligence System. New York: Vintage, 1981.

DuBois, W.E.B. John Brown. Armonk, NY and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1997.

Equiano, Olaudah. The Life of Olaudah Eqiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1999.

Eugene, Toinette M., "Moral Values and Black Womanists." In Cone, Black Theology, 309-320.

Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Constance Farrington. New York: Grove, 1966.

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Faulkner, William, Requiem for a Nun. New York: Random House, 1951.

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Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution: 1963-1877. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.

Foner, Phillip S., ed. The Black Panthers Speak. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970. Reprinted New York: Da Capo, 1995. Page references are to the 1995 edition.

Forbes, Ella. "But We Have No Country": The 1851 Christiana Pennsylvania Resistance. Cherry Hill, NJ: African Legacy Homestead, 1998.

Forbes, Flores Alexander. "Point No. 7: We Want an Immediate End to Police Brutality and the Murder of Black People: Why I joined the Black Panther Party." In Nelson, ed., Police Brutality, 225-239.

Frederickson, George M. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History. New York: Oxford University, 1981.

Freed, Donald. Agony in New Haven: The Trial of Bobby Seale, Ericka Huggins and the Black Panther Party. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1973.

Fresia, Jerry. Toward an American Revolution: Exposing the Constitution and Other Illusions. Boston: South End, 1988.

Grady-Willis, Winston A. "The Black Panther Party: State Repression and Political Prisoners." In Jones, ed., The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 363-389.

Harris Survey Yearbook of Public Opinion, 1970. New York: Louis Harris and Associates, 1971.

Hayes III, Floyd W, and Francis A. Kleine III. "'All Power to the People': The Political Thought of Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party." In Jones, ed., The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 158-175.

Henderson, Errol A. 1997. "The Lumpenproletariat as Vanguard? The Black Panther Party, Social Transformation, and Pearson's Analysis of Huey Newton." Journal of Black Studies 28(2): 171-199.

Hilliard, David and Lewis Cole. This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.

Hilliard, David and Donald Weise, eds. The Huey P Newton Reader. New York: Seven Stories, 2002.

The Holy Bible (King James Version). Dallas, TX: International Prison Ministry, 1988.

Ignatiev, Noel. How the Irish Became White. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Irons, Peter. A People's History of the Supreme Court. New York: Viking, 1999.

James, Joy. Shadow Boxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Jayko, Margaret, ed. FBI on Trial: The Victory of the Socialist Workers Party Suit Against Government Spying. New York: Pathfinder, 1988.

Jennings, Regina. ''Why I joined the Party: An Africana Womanist Reflection." In Jones, ed., The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 258-265.

Johnson III, Ollie A. "Explaining the Demise of the Black Panther Party: The Role of Internal Factors." In Jones, ed., The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 391-414.

Jones, Charles E., ed. The Black Panther Party Reconsidered. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic, 1998.

Jones, Charles E. and Judean L. Jeffries. "'Don't Believe the Hype:' Debunking the Panther Mythology," In Jones, ed., The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, 25-56.

Jones, R.L., ed. Black Psychology. 3rd ed. Hampton, VA: Cobb & Henry, 1991.

The Journal of American History 64(64): June 1977-March 1978.

Katz, William L. Breaking the Chains: African-American Slave Resistance. New York: Aladdin, 1990. Page references are to the 1998 edition.

Kelley, Robin D.C. and Earl Lewis, eds. To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans. New York: Oxford University, 2000.

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Lapham, Lewis. "Notebook: Power Points," Harper's, August, 2002.

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Lee, Butch. Jailbreak Out of History: The Re-Biography of Harriet Tubman. Brooklyn, NY: Stoopsale Books, 2000.

Lee, Chisun. "The NYPD Wants to Watch You: Nation's Largest Law Enforcement Agency Vies for Total Spying Power," Village Voice, December 18-24, 2002, 30-36.

Linebaugh, Peter and Marcus Rediker. The Many Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon, 2000.

Lule, Jack. Daily News, Eternal Stones: The Mythological Role in Journalism. New York: Guilford Press, 2001.

Mao Tse-Tung. Quotations from Chairman, Mao Tse-Tung. Peking, China: Foreign Language, 1972.

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---. War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America. New York: Harlem River, 1996.

Newton, Huey P. with J. Herman Black. Revolutionary Suicide. New York: Harcourt, 1973. Reprinted New York: Writers and Readers, 1995. Page references are to the 1995 edition.

Newton, Huey P. and Erik Erikson. In Search of Common Ground: Conversations With Erik H. Erikson and Huey P. Newton. New York: Norton, 1973.

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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

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Abdy, Edward, 52-53
Abron, JaNina, 241
Adams, Frankye Malika, 159, 164
Adams, Henry, 11
Adams, John Quincy, 22
African People's Socialist Party (APSP),
Africanisms, 104-5
Al Fatah, 107-8
Algiers, Algeria: Cleaver's self-imposed
exile in, 114, 213, 215-18, 228-30;
international BPP headquarters, 106,
109, 112, 180, 250
Ali, Muhammad (Cassius Clay), 4, 62
Alston, Ashanti, 236
Ambulance Services, 70
La Amistad mutiny, 19
Anarchist Panther, 236
Anarchist People of Color, 236
Anderson, Osbourne, 26
Anthony, Earl, xv, 102, 138-39, 151, 222
anti-Semitism, 115, 235
Aptheker, Herbert, 18, 22
Arafat, Yasser, 107
Arizona State University, 127
armed resistance: Christiana, 34-39, 56;
at Harper's Ferry, 24-26; Negro Fort,
17, 21-24; police-monitoring patrols,
43-45, 67-69, 78, 99, 209; Seminole
Wars, 22-24; Watts Rebellion, 5-6,
31-34, 40-41, 63, 65-66, 102, 105, Su
also rebellions; riots
Ash, Joel, 136


Babylon! Revolutionary People's Communication
Network, 229
back-to-Africa movements, 6-11, 20
Baker, Ella, 159
Baldwin, James, 5
Baraka, Amiri, 102
Barenblat v, U.S., 117
"Baron's Revolt," 17-18
Barth, Karl, 27
Bassem, Abu, 108
Bay, Big Bob, 110-11
Bennett, Fred, 226
Bernice, Sister, 181
Bethune, Mary McLeod, 159, 249
Biddle, Francis, 133
"Big Man" (Elbert Howard), 6, 212, 215,
bin Wahad, Dhoruba, 207, 217-18
Bird, Joan, 182
BJ (Baby Jesus), 176-77
Black, Hugo, 117
Black Classics Press, 237
Black Congress, 103
Black Economic Development Conference
(BEDC), 179
Black House, 101-2
Black Liberation Army (BLA), 162, 168,
171, 225, 230, 236
Black Liberators, 81, 129-30, 263-5
Black Muslim movements, 199, 233. See
also Nation of Islam (NOI)
Black nationalism, 8-11, 20, 67, 81, 83,
131, 208
Black Panther Collective (BPC), 235
Black Panther Militia, 234
The Black Panther newspaper: arrests for
selling, 89-90, 170; closely read, 101,
107, 111-13, 228-29, 238-39, 247;
editors of, 6, 44, 107, 182, 201, 241;
sales, 61, 112, 185, 189, 195, 207; San
Francisco offices, 201-3
Black Panther Party (BPP): California State
Assembly demonstration, 45, 209;
centralization in Oakland, 224-26, 232;
chapters, 6, 46, 71, 119-20, I50, 179,
188, 219-21; coalitions, 77, 80, 82-88,
113-14, 122, 124, 128; community
service programs, 67-71, 169-70, 185,
207, 224, 241; expulsion of members,
180, 214, 217-18; as "Huey's
party, " 110-11, l15, 221; international
headquarters, 106, 109, 112, 180, 250;
internationalism, 80-88, 105-9,
114-15, 175; King, contrasted with,
7, 28, 32, 39-41; legacies of, 236-45;
Malcolm X's influence, 60-61, 66-67,
80-81, 101, 208, 250; membership
categories, 187-88; original name (BPPFSD),
5-6, 42, 44-45, 80, 101-2, 231;
police-monitoring patrols by, 43-45,
67-69, 78, 99, 209; political education
(PE) classes, 97-101, 108, 161, 165,
187; red orientation, 101, 108, 118,
177, 179, 198, 208; on revolution vs.
reform, 66; sexism in, 160, 164-74,
177-78; the split, 150, 211-12, 215-19,
219-25, 228-29; Ten-Point Program,
62, 97-101, 187, 210, 235-36;unde~
ground military force and, 214. See also
Breakfast for Children Program; Structure
of Black Panther Party; women in
Black Panther Party
Black United Liberation Front (BULF), 233
Blackstone Rangers, 121, 148
Boston Gazelle, 18
Boston, 46, 58, 71, 173
Breakfast for Children Program: adoption
of, by other groups, 233-34; BPP
program, 69, 185-87, 189, 197, 224,
240-41; police disruption of, 169-70,
207, 241
Brent, Bill, 106
Brown, Elaine, 95-96, 120, 167-68, 172,
184-86, 232, 237
Brown, John, 24-26
Brownlow, William G., 11
brownmail: Cleaver/Newton split and,
211-12, 215-25; historical uses of,
11, 16, 18; Hoover-authorized, 106-7,
121-22, 130-31, 148-49, 206-8,
211-19; ordinary citizens targeted,
126-31, 148, 157
Bukhari, Safiya A., 162-63, 168-74, 229
Bullins, Ed, 102
Burgess, J. W, 79
Burke, Edmund, 17
Burns, William J., 125


California State Assembly "invasion",
45, 209
Carmichael, Stokely, 160
Carter, Alprentice "Bunchy, " 103, 136
CCS (Criminal Conspiracy Section),
Chatham convention, 24-25, 76-77
Chicago, Illinois, 46, 71, 119-20, 150,
179, 219-20
Chicago Freedom festival, 32
Christiana Resistance, 34-39, 56
(Frank) Church Committee, 131-32, 153,
cimarron, 23
Cinque (Singbeh Pi'eh), 19, 27
Citizen's Committee to Investigate the
FBI, 156
Civil War, 10, 26-27, 34, 39, 86
Clark, Mark, 150, 189
Clay, Cassius (Muhammad Ali), 4, 62
Cleaver, Eldridge: Black House cofounder,
101-2; brownmail, 208-11,
212-19; editor, Black Panther; 44; exile
in Algiers, 114, 213, 215-18, 228-30;
and Newton split, 211-12, 215-19,
219-25; personality flaws, 219-20,
223; POW exchange offer, 106-7;
Presidential candidacy, 82; on women
in BPP, 161, 175, 184; "Letter to My
Black Brothers in Vietnam, " 106-7;
Soul On Ice, 63; Soul on Wax, 82
Cleaver, Kathleen Neal: introduction by,
i-xvi; on Fanon's influence, 109; on
international scope of BPP, 114-15;
talents as a speaker, 212-13; on
women in BPP, 160-62, 173
Clothing Program, 70
coalitions, 77, 80, 82-88, 113-14, 122,
124, 128.
PROgram): actions against
Black groups, 122-23, 129-31; ordinary
citizens targeted, 121~35, 155,
211; purposes of, 121, 123-24, 131,
133-35; uncovered, 155-58, 205-11,
213. See also brown mail; FBI; Hoover,
J. Edgar
colonialism, 3-5, 108, 221
Communism, 118, 137-38, 151. See also
Community Medical Clinic, 70-71, 185
community service programs, 67-71,
169-70, 185, 207, 224, 234-36, 241
concubinage, 27
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), 160
constitutions: FBI violations of U.S., 115,
123, 132-35, 156, 170, 189, 209-11;
John Brown's rewritten, 24-25; Pennsylvania
state's, 56-57; RPCCs, 72-80,
99, 195, 210, 213; U.S., 25, 56-57, 66,
78-80, 99, 101, 210
Cox, Barbara Easley, 175-76
Cox, Don, 106
Crawford, Bill, 45-46
CRIC (Citizens Research and Investigation
Committee), 144-47, 156
Cyril, Janet, 163


Davis, Angela, 144, 182
DeBerry, Cliff, 128-29
Declaration of Independence, new,
24-25, 210
Delany Martin, 9, 37
Deslondes, Charles, 19, 27
Discipline, Three Main Rules of, 187
Diving Bell Riot, 54-55
Double V campaign, 250
Douglas, Emory, 44
Douglass, Frederick, 31, 38-39, 51-52
Douglass, Judi, 93, 182, 201
Dowell, Denzil, 43-44
Draft Riots, 33034
Dred Scott" Sanford, 25, 57
Du Bois, W.E.B., 5, 33
Dunmore, Lord, 16-17
Dymally, Mervyn, 176


Echelon Project, 248
Einstein, Albert, 211
enemies lists, 155-58
Equiano, Olaudah, 12-13


fake letters. See brownmail
Fanon, Frantz, 3-5, 105, 108-9, 221, 248
Farrakhan, Louis, 154
Al Fatah, 107-8
Faulkner, William, 26
FBI: conspiracies to discredit citizens,
121-24, 125-35, 148, 155, 157, 211;
disruptions by, 102, 123, 169-70, 207,
241; enemies lists, 155-58; Gregory
targeted, 157; Hoover-authorized
brownmail, 121-22, 130-31, 148-49,
206-8, 211-19; informants, 102-4,
136, 138-39, 140-47, 148-51, 207,
222; King targeted, 122, 132-33;
mission of, 121, 123-24, 131, 134-35;
murder instigated by, 104, 136-37,
206-7; nature of, revealed, 125,
141-46, 155-58. See also brown mail;
COINTELPRO; Hoover, J. Edgar
Feagin, Joe R., 33
Fletcher v. Peck, 22-23
Flying Horse Riot, 53-55
Flynn, J.W., 123
Fonda, Jane, 110
Foner, Eric, 11
Foner, Philip, 39
Food Programs, 70
Forbes, Ella, 34
Forbes, Flores, 189
Fort, Jeff, 121, 148
Fort Mosa, Florida, 17, 21-24
Fredrickson, George, 85-86
freed, Donald, 140
Fresia, Jerry, 78
Freud, Sigmund, 250
fugitive slave laws, 23, 37-39
Fuller, Algonquin J., 215


Galt, Nick, 136
Gandhi, Mahatma, 249
gangs. See street gangs
Gardner-Smith, William, 44
Garry, Charles, 140-42
Garvey, Marcus, 9
Gary, Romaine, 155
Genet, Jean, 202-4
the ghetto, defined, 32, 58
GIU (Gang Intelligence Unit), 149
Gorsuch, Dickinson, 35-39
Gorsuch, Edward, 34
Great Migration, 6, 28, 58
Gregory, Dick, 157
Guevara, Che, 59, 105, 178
Guillen, Nicholas, 249


Hage, M.K., Jr., 126
Haig, Alexander, 110
Hall, Prince, 9-10
Hampton, Fred, 119-22, 148, 153, 179,
189, 234
Harper's Ferry raid, 24-26
Harris opinion poll, 152-53
Henderson, Errol A., 160
Herrenvolk democracy, 8, 77, 85-86
Hilliard, David: background, 6-7, 142,
221-22; Chief of Staff, 120, 150,
202-3, 214, 216, 219; on NBPP, 235;
on RPCC, 76
Hilliard, Roosevelt "June," 6, 183
Home Maintenance Program, 70
Hoover, J. Edgar: brown mail, 121-22,
130-31, 148-49, 206-8, 211-19;
compulsions, 133-34; objectives, 136,
149, 207; racism of, 115-17; tactics of,
121-23. See also COINTELPRO; FBI
Hottelet, Richard C., 108
Housing Cooperative Program, 70
How the Irish Became White (Ignatiev),
Howard, Elbert "Big Man", 6, 212, 215,
The Huey P. Newton Reader, 237
"Huey's party, " 110-11, 115, 221. See also
Black Panther Party (BPP)
Huggins, Ericka, 63, 140-42, 175, 180,
182, 212, 241
Huggins, Jon, 103, 136, 140
Hughes, Langston, 248-49
Hutton, Bobby, 71, 106, 114
Hyson, Brenda, 173


Ignatiev, Noel, 53-54
"In Defense of Self-Defense" (Newton),
informants: Anthony, 102, 138-39, 151,
222; O'Neal, 148-50; Perry, 103-4;
Sams, 140-43, 149, 151; Smith, 144-
45, 147; snitch-jacketing, 207; Stiner
brothers, 103-4, 136; Tackwood,
143-47; US organization, 104, 136
integration, 64-66, 119. See also segregation
Intercommunal News Service, 70
Intercommunal Youth Institutes, 70, 232
intercommunalism, 70, 72, 80, 82-88,
113-15, 232.
internationalism, 80-88, 105-9, 114-15,
175, 250
Irish, 33-34, 52-54
Islam. See Nation of Islam


Jackson, Andrew, 21-22, 24
James, Joy, 153
Jefferson, Thomas, 10
Jennings, Regina, 166-67
Jesup, Thomas, 22
Jews, 98, 115, 223, 235, 242
ji-Jaga, Geronimo, 6, 145, 173, 186, 192,
210-14, 237, 240
Johnson, Deborah, 149, 234
Johnson, Marlin, 149
Johnson, Rene, 150
Jones, Andrea, 173, 224
Jones, Pirkle, 177
Joseph, Jamal, 163
Juchi (self-reliance), 113
Junta of Militant Organizations (JOMO),


Karenga, Maulana "Ron, " 102-3
Keel, Lieutenant, 144
Keep Ya' Head Up Foundation, 178
Kennedy, John F, 39
Kenyatta, Muhamad, 179
Kim II-sung, 113
King, Martin Luther, Jr.: assassinated,
61; FB1 tactics against, 122, 132-33;
forbearance doctrine, 7; integrationist,
64-65; on internal colonialism, 32;
Malcolm X, contrasted, 28, 39-41;
Watts' influence on, 32, 65
King, Martin Luther, Sr., 122
Kizenski, Ron, 138-39
Kline, Henry, 35-39
Ku Klux Klan (KKK), 33


Lenin, V.I., 5
Leninism, S, 66, 108, 118, 177
letters, fake. See brownmail
Lewis, Tarika, 165
Liberation Schools, 70, 171, 174
Liberator, 38
Liberia, 8-9
Lincoln, Abraham, 10-11
Lippard, George, 53
Los Angeles: chapter, 46, 71, 220; informants,
102-4, 136, 138-39, 140-47,
148-51, 207, 222; since BPP, 235; US
organization in, 102-4, 136; volatile
police in, 189. See afro police
Los Angeles Times, 145, 155
Love, Sister, 181
Lule, Jack, 153-54
lump en proletariat, 143, 173, 220, 223,


Maceo, Antonio, 249
Mack, Larry, 106
Major, Naima, 176-78
Major, Reginald, 160
Malcolm X: on colonialism, S; and
DeBerry, 129; and Harris, 199; "house
slave/ field slave" dichotomy, 4, 8; influence
on BPP, 60-61, 66-67, 80-81,
101, 208, 250; and King, contrasted,
28, 39-41; in The Militant, 66; and
Newton, 4-5, 60-61, 66; post-Hajj
name, 199
Mao Tse-Tung, 42, 105, 108, 187
Maoism, 42, 66, 105, 108, 118, 177, 187,
Maroons/maroonage, 17, 21, 23
Marxism, 66, 108, 112-13, 118, 177, 179,
198, 208
Matthews, Connie, 106, 214
Matthews, Donald H., 27-28
McCarter, Terry, 47
McGee, Michael, 234
McIntosh, General, 24
Mealy, Rosemari, 150, 178-80
Media, Pennsylvania, break-in, 155-58
media role, 151-58
Merritt College, 2, 172
Michaels, Aaron, 234
The Militant, 66
Mitchell, Beth, 217
Mitchell, Henry, 49
Mitchell, John, 117
Mitchell, Roy, 148-49
Mondale, Walter, 132, 157
Monroe, James, 20
Moorish Science Temple, 233
Morgan, Margaret, 56-57
Morris, Gouverneur, 79
Muhammad, Elijah, 112, 123
Muhammad, Khallid Abdul, 234
Muhammad Speaks, 66, 97, 112-13
Mulford legislation, 45
Mumia, Abu-Jamal: about, i-xvi; on BPP
newspaper, 111-13; discovery of BPP,
247; jaywalking arrest, 89-93; on loyalty,
182-84; in Philadelphia, 46-49
murder: among and within Black groups,
103-4, 207, 225-26, 229; charges
against Newton, 60, 106; charges
against Seale, 63, 140-42, 180; of
Clark, 150, 189; of Hampton, 149-50,
189; of Hutton, 71, 106; law enforcement
and, 43, 104, 136-37, 143-45,
153, 174, 177, 180, 206-7; mass
violence, provoked by whites, 22, 33,
41-42, 51, 59
Muslim Mosque, Inc., 129
Muslims, 199, 233


NAACP (National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People), 2,
66, 119
Napier, Sam, 226, 229
Nation of Islam (NOl): anti-Semitism
from, 234-35; on Black nationalism,
4, 11, 85, 233; Malcolm X and, 81,
228, 239; Muhammad Speaks, 66, 97;
police raids and, 122-23; sexism in,
National Advisory Committee on Urban
Disorders, 41
National Liberation Front of South
Vietnam, 107
nationalism, 110. See also Black nationalism;
white nationalism
nativism, 54-55
Negro Port (Fort Mosa), 17, 21-24
negro governments, 9-10, 17, 21
Negro-Indians, 22-24
Negroes With Guns (Williams), 5
Neil, Father Earl, 69
New African American Vanguard Movement
(NAAVM), 235
New Black Panther Party (NBPP),
New Haven, Connecticut, 63, 140, 142,
180, 203, 241-42
New Orleans Rebellion, 15
New Panther Vanguard Movement
(NPVM), 235
New World Liberation Front, 223
New York: the Bronx, 46, 88, 110, 112,
I81, 198-99, 225, 229; Brooklyn, 46,
71, 128, 163-64, 173, 199, 240; Draft
Riots, 33-34; Harlem, 46, 71, 128-29,
162-63, 168, 171, 199, 225, 229
New York Times, 172
New York 21, 180, See also Panther 21
Newark, New Jersey, 42, 61, 105, 199
Newsweek, 145
Newton, Huey P: biographical highlights,
4-5, 42-43, 81, 95-96; "black panther"
symbol, S; brownmail, 208-11,
212-19; civil action from prison, 176;
and Cleaver split, 211-12, 215-25; at
the Constitutional Convention, 74-76;
intercommunalism, 80, 82-84, 113-
14; Mealy expelled by, 180; murder
charges, 60, 106; as a poor speaker,
2, 75-76, 212; racism as the enemy,
81-82; Seale and, 96-97; Watts'
influence on, 32-33, 63; weaknesses,
81-82, 95-96, 135, 208-10, 219-26;
In Defense of Self-Defense, 60-61; Revolutionary Suicide, 32, 43, 185
Newton, Walter, 96, 218
Nguyen, Thi Dinh, 107
Nietzsche, Friedrich, S, 81
Nixon, Richard, 105, 117
Njeri, Akua (Deborah Johnson), 149,
Nkrumah, Kwame, 60, 105, 248
NOI. See Nation of Islam
Non-Partisan League, 124
North Korea, 113-14, 175
The North Star, 39
Nyasha, Kiilu, 241


Oakland, California, 4, 43, 60, 68-69, 71,
88-89, 220
O'Connor, Robert, 138-39
Odinga, Sekou, 106, 163
"On the Question of Sexism Within the
Black Panther Party" (Bukhari), 172
O'Neal, William, 148-50
Organization of Afro-American Unity,


Palestinians, 107, 113, 235
Pan African Cultural ['estiva1, 114
the Panther 13, 145
the Panther 21, 91, 106, 164, 180, 199,
214, 217-18, 230, 244
Papke, David R., 210
Parker, William and Eliza, 35-39
PATR10T Act, 131
Peace and Freedom Party (P&F), 82
"Peaches," 173
Pearson, Hugh, 160, 164-65
People's Free Medical Research Health
Clinic, 70-71, 185
Perry, Darthard, 103-4
Petition Drive for Community Control
of Cops, 70
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 46-49, 51-62,
Philadelphia Bulletin, 39, 56
Picking Up the Gun (Anthony), 151
Pi'eh, Singbeh "Cinque," 19, 27
Pilots for Panthers, 107
Pleasonton, August James, 55
police: BPP police-alert patrols, 43-45,
67-69, 78, 99, 209; CCS, 143-47;
draconian sentences, 89-92, 170-71,
176-77; GIU, 149; Project Echelon,
248; tactics, 59, 70, 124-26, 169-71,
206-7, 241; white violence provoked
by, 33, 41-42, 49, 53-55, 59, 65. See
political education (PE) classes, 108,
165, 187
Politique Internationale, 110
Pottinger, J. Stanley, 135
POW exchange, 107
Powell, Curtis, 199
Pratt, Geronimo, 6, 145, 173, 186, 192,
210-14, 237, 240
Presley, Elvis, 211
Prigg, Edward, 57
Prison Busing Program, 70
Project Echelon, 248
Prosser, Gabriel, 19-21, 27


The Quaker City (Lippard), 53
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung
(Red Book), 42, 108, 187


racism, 47-49, 81-82, 115, 235
Rackley, Alex, 140, 143
rebellions: Christiana, 34-39, 56; Fort
Mosa, 17, 21-24; New Orleans
Revolt, 15; Richmond Revolt, 20-21;
slave conspiracies, 15-24, 34-39; on
slave ships, 14, 19; Stono, 15; Watts,
5-6, 31-34, 40-41, 63, 65-66, 102,
105. See also armed resistance; riots
Red Book (Mao Tse-Tung quotations),
42, 108, 187
Reed, Ishmael, 154
Republic of New Africa, 160
Republican National Committee, 124
resistance. See armed resistance
Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM),
Revolutionary Active Communities Uprising
in Numbers (RACUN), 236
Revolutionary People's Constitutional
Convention (RPCC), 72-80, 99, 195,
210, 213
Revolutionary Suicide (Newton), 32, 43, 185
Richmond demonstration, California,
43-44, 46, 220
Richmond Revolt, 20-21
Right On! Black Community News Service,
riots: Diving Bell, 54-55; Draft, 33-34;
Flying Horse, 53-55; white fomenting
of, 33-34, 41-42, 49, 53-55, 65.
See also armed resistance; murder;
Rivera, Sister, 173
Rizzo, Frank, 73-74, 194-96
Robeson, Paul, 248
Roosevelt, Franklin D, 133
Rush, Bobby, 119, 149, 219, 240
Rustin, Bayard, 227-28


Sacramento demonstration, California,
45-46, 209
Sams, George "Madman," 140-43, 149,
Schell, Reggie "Captain Reg," 49, 60-61,
76, 150, 179
Schwarz, Frederick A.O., Jr., 132-33
Seale, Bobby: biographical highlights,
2-3; Malcolm X influence on, 66;
mayoral campaign, 224-25, 232;
murder charges, 63, 140-42, 180; and
Newton, 96-97; on Red Book use, 42;
soapbox speech of, 163; on women in
BPP, 165; Seize the Time, 237
Seale, john, 211
Seattle, Washington, 46, 58, 69, 71
Seberg, Jean, 155
segregation, 32, 54-55, 58. See afro
Seize the Time (Seale), 237
self-defense: historical resistance in,
8, 21-29, 35; Newton on, 60-61;
opposition to weapons of, 101-2;
original name of BPP, 5-6, 42, 44-45,
80, 101-2, 231; original purpose of
BPP, 7, 42, 45, 231; police-monitoring
patrols as, 43-45, 67-69, 78, 99, 209;
Watts Rebellion, 32, 34, 41, 65-66
Sell, Evelyn Rose, 125-27
Seminole Wars, 22-24
Seniors Against Fearfu1 Environment
(SAFE), 70
Seven Stories Press, 236-37
Shabazz, Al Hajji Malik El-, 199. See also
Malcolm X
Shabazz, Malik Zulu, 234-35
Shakespeare, William, 227
Shakur, Afeni, 162-63, 175, 182, 217,
Shakur, Assata, 152, 163, 210
Shakur, Lumumba, 163, 217
Shakur, Tupac, 162, 244
Shakur, Zayd Malik, 217-18
Sharpton, Al, 154
Sheila (BPP member), 182-84
Sheila (young newspaper seller), 89-90
Shoes Program, 70
Shorter, George, 9
Sickle Cell Anemia Research Foundation,
70, 185
Simba Wachuka, 102
Simpson, O.J., 62
Singh, Dr. Nikhil Pal, 77-78, 174
Slausons street gang, 103
slaves: British use of, 16-17; fugitive slave
laws, 23, 37-39; "house slave/field
slave" dichotomy, 4, 8; identity continued
as, 172-73; rebellions of, 14-16,
17-24, 34-39; trade, 4, 8, 12-14, 19,
Small, Dr. Tolbert, 71
Smith, Melvin "Cotton, " 144-45, 147
snitches. See informants
socialism: capitalism coexisting with, 87;
intercommunalism, 72, 115; organizations
promoting, 125-28, 234. See also
Socialist Workers Party (SWP), 125, 128
Soul on Ice (Cleaver), 63
Soul On Wax (Cleaver), 82
South Vietnam People's Liberation Army,
split, BPP, 150, 206-7, 211-12, 215-25,
Starsky, Morris J., 127-28
Stiner, George, 103-4, 136
Stiner, Larry, 103-4, 136
Stono Rebellion, 15
Story, Joseph, 57
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 53
street gangs: Blackstone Rangers, 121,
148; BPP work with, 62, 119, 121,
148, 240; CRIPs and BLOODs, 238;
ethnic, 55; Hugo Black on, 117; Irish,
54; police use of, 59; Slauson, 103; urban,
since BPP, 237-38; Young Lords,
119-20, 199, 242
structure of Black Panther Party:
branches, 46-47, 49, 241; centralization,
220-21, 224-25; day-to-day,
61-62, 186, 241; intercommunalism,
82-87; membership categories,
187-88; offices, 59-60, 182, 190;
titles and discipline, 47, 188-89, 241;
uniforms, 60. See also women in Black
Panther Party
Student Mobilization Committee
(MOBE), 127
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
(SNCC), 159
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS),
suicide, 122, 150, 155, 185
Sullivan, William, 131-32
Sunni Muslims, 199
survival programs, 69-71, 169-70, 185,
207, 224, 234-36, 241
Swearingen, M. Wesley, 103, 122, 136,


Tabor, Michael "Cetewayo, " 106, 217-18,
Tackwood, Louis, 143-47
Ten-Point Program, 62, 97-100, 187, 210,
Thompson, Samuel, 38
Three Main Rules of Discipline, 187
Tillich, Paul j., 27
Toward an American Revolution (Fresia),
Treaty of Colerain (1796), 23
Truth, Sojourner, 27
Tubman, Harriet, 1, 27, 38
Ture, Kwame (Stokely Carmichael), 160
Turner, Nat, 19, 27
Twain, Mark, 55


U.S.-Seminole Wars, 22-24
US organization (United Slaves), 102-4,
136, 139, 160, 232


Van Peebles, Mario, 236
Van Peebles, Melvin, 236
Vaslavek, Dr., 71
Vesey, Denmark, 19, 27
Vietnam War: Anthony on, 138; Cleaver
on, 106-7; escalation of, 45, 61;
Newton on, 88, 107, 110; opposition
to, 63, 77, 106-7, 110, 138; POW
exchange, 107; vets, 190, 192, 213


Walker, Alice, 172
wars: American Revolution, 16-18;
anticolonial movements, 5; Christiana
Resistance, 34-39, 56; Civil War, 10,
26-27, 34, 39, 86; Draft Riots, 33-34;
Red Summer, 33; Seminole Wars,
22-24; World War II, 250. See also
Vietnam War
Washington, George, 16, 73-74
Washington, Rev. Paul, 73
Washington Post, 145
Watts Rebellion, 5-6, 31-34, 40-41, 63,
65-66, 102, 105. See also rebellions;
weapons: "jawbone of an ass, " 20; legality
of, 43, 68, 144-45, 152; opposition
to, 101-2, 149, 232; philosophy of,
67-68, 191-92
Webb, Robert, 225-26, 229
Wheeler, Burton K., 124-25
white nationalism, 8, 77, 85-86, 154
white riots against Blacks, 33-34, 41-42,
49, 53-55, 59, 65. See also riots
Williams, Robert, 5
WIN magazine, 156
women in Black Panther Party: Adams,
159, 164; Brown, 95-96, 120, 167-68,
172, 184-86, 232, 237;Bukhari,
162-63, 168-74; Cleaver, Eldridge,
on, 161, 175, 184; Cleaver, Kathleen,
i-xvi, 109, 114-15, 160-62, 173,
212-13; Cox, 175-76; Douglas, 93,
182, 201; Huggins, 63, 140-42, 175,
180, 182, 212, 241; Lewis, 165; Major,
176-78; Mealy, 150, 178-80; Pearson
on sexism, 160, 164-65; Seale on, 165;
sexism and, 160, 164-74, 177-78;
Shakur, Afeni, 162-63, 175, 182, 244;
Singh on, 174-75; others, 89-90, 173,
182-84, 217, 241
World War 11, 132, 250
The Wretched of the Earth (Fanon), 3-4,
108-9, 221
Wright, J. Leitch, Jr., 23
Wright, Richard, 248


Young Lords, 119-20, 199, 242
Young Socialist Alliance, 127
Youth Against War and Fascism, 215


Zinn, Howard, 152
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Re: We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party, by M

Postby admin » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:37 am

Mumia Abu-Jamal


Mumia Abu-Jamal was born April 24, 1954, in Philadelphia. At the time of his arrest there on December 9, 1981, on charges of the murder of a police officer, he was a leading broadcast journalist and president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Association of Black Journalists. Widely acclaimed for his award-winning work with NPR, Mutual Black Network, National Black Network, WUHY (now WHYY), and other stations, he was known as Philadelphia's "voice for the voiceless."

At the age of fourteen, Mumia was beaten and arrested for protesting at a presidential rally for George Wallace. In the fall of 1968, he became a founding member and Lieutenant Minister of Information of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party. During the summer of 1970, he worked for the Party newspaper in Oakland, California, returning to Philadelphia shortly before the Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention and the city police raid of all three local offices of the Panther Party.

Throughout the following decade, Mumia's hard-hitting criticism of the Philadelphia Police Department and the Rizzo administration marked him as a journalist "to watch." His unyielding rejection of Mayor Rizzo's version of the city's 1978 siege of the MOVE organization (in the Powelton Village neighborhood of West Philadelphia) particularly incensed the establishment, and eventually cost him his broadcast job. In order to support his growing family, Mumia began to work night shifts as a cabdriver.

In the early morning hours of December 9, 1981, Mumia was critically shot and beaten by police and charged with the murder of officer Daniel Faulkner. Put on trial before Philadelphia's notorious "hanging judge," Albert Sabo, he was convicted and sentenced to death on July 3, 1982.

After years of challenges and international protests, on December 18, 2001, the US District Court overturned the death sentence, but upheld the conviction. Judge Yohn's District Court decision is being appealed to the Court of Appeals from both sides, with the prosecution objecting to the overturn of the capital sentence and Murcia's attorneys rejecting the upheld conviction. As of October 2002, Murcia's appeal is stayed (on hold) pending the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling on the state appeal.

Starting with the Black Panther Party's national newspaper, Mumia has reported on the racism and inequity in our society. He added radio to his portfolio, eventually recording a series of reports from death row for NPR's All Things Considered. However, NPR, caving in to political pressure, refused to air the programs. Mumia Abu-Jamal is still fighting for his own freedom from prison, and through his powerful voice, for the freedom of all people.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of Live from Death Row, All Things Censored, Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience, and Faith of Our Fathers. His audio recordings include 175 Progress Drive and All Things Censored. His commentaries appear in periodicals throughout the world and can be heard on http://www.prisonradio.org.

KATHLEEN CLEAVER, an activist scholar, currently teaches at Emory University School of Law and Yale University's African American Studies Department. She quit college in 1966 to join the Civil Rights movement, then served as the Black Panther Party's Communications Secretary from 1967-1971. Cleaver co-edited the essay collection Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party, and is at work on a forthcoming memoir Memories of Love and War.

Supporter Information

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PO Box 19709, Philadelphia, PA 19143 (215) 476-8812

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298 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 255-1085

Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
163 Amsterdam Avenue, Suite 115, New York, NY 10023
(212) 580-1022

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal coalition
PO Box 650, New York, NY 10009
(212) 330-8029

Refuse and Resist!
350 Madison Avenue, Suite 1166
New York, NY 10165 (212) 713-5657

Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison-Industrial Complex
National Office: 1904 Franklin Street, Suite 504
Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 444-0484




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