As one of the most-storied African-American groups during the turbulent late 1960s, the #Black Panther Party For Self Defense (or the Black Panther Party) stood out not only for their militant appearance but also for their work in impoverished neighborhoods as well. As students at Oakland’s Merritt College(formerly Oakland City College), Huey Newton (pictured right) and Bobby Seale (pictured) were inspired by the teachings of Malcolm X, who was slain just a year before they began the Party. Newton and Seale, growing tired of police brutality and other forms injustice against Blacks, formed the Black Panther Party in October of 1966.
Fashioning themselves as left-wing revolutionaries, the Black Panthers felt that Blacks in America needed protection against police, underscoring their emphasis on self-defense. Since Newton was a reader of Karl Marx, Frantz Fanon, Vladimir Lenin, and other revolutionary figures, the Black Panthers taught socialist and Marxist ideology to its members.
Newton maintained the title of defense minister while Seale was recognized as the group’s chairman. Along with forming the party, the group’s landmark “Ten Point Program” was also introduced after being inspired by Stokely Carmichael (aka Kwame Toure) and his activism in Alabama.
The Party’s platform called for equal rights for Blacks, a call for jobs for the community, housing, education, and other demands. Party members were also famous for being armed publicly, after Newton learned that a loophole in California law allowed them to bear guns in plain sight as long as they weren’t aimed.
The Panthers claimed Oakland as a “territory” with the police being enemies of their land and acted as both a community support system and militia-like force.