The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] | Edited by Charles E. Jones
Chapter I: “Don’t Believe the Hype”: Debunking the Panther Mythology | Charles E. Jones and Judson L. James
Myth 1: The BPP was an anti-White organization
“we don’t hate white people; we hate the oppressor. And if the oppressor happens to be white then we hate him.” — Huey P. Newton (page 38)
Myth 2: The BPP was an “infantile leftist” organization
Myth 3: The BPP was a media-created organization
Myth 4: The BPP was a “lumpen-based” organization
Chapter II: The Black Panthers and the “Undeveloped Country” of the Left | Nikhil Pal Singh
“The “shadow of the gun,” moreover was far more important for the Panthers than actual guns could ever be.” (page 83)
The author mentions how the Panther’s represented a challenge of the State’s power; that if the State did not answer and did retaliate to the spectacle of the Panthers, the Panthers would be proven right in challenging the State, showing the State’s power is “a mask” (pages 83-84)
The Panthers challenged that state’s monopoly on violence. (page 84)
Chapter III: Once I Was a Panther | Melvin E. Lewis
Chapter IV: Selections for a Panther Diary | Steve D. McCutchen
Chapter V: “I Got a Right to the Tree of Life”: Afrocentric Reflections of a Former Community Worker | Miriam Ma’at-Ka-Re Monges
“[O]ne of the most important rings the Party did was to make it really clear who the enemy was: not the white people, but the capitalistic, imperialistic oppressors [The Party] took the Black liberation struggle out of a national context and put it in an international context.” — Assata Shakur (page 138)
The author mentions the lack of recognition of the power of their African heritage. While the Party recognized it, they did not utilize it as a means of liberation, deeming those who did as “cultural nationalists.”
Chapter VI: “Talkin’ the Talk and Walkin’ the Walk”: An Interview with Panther Jimmy Slater | Charles E. Jones
Panther Jimmy Slater talks about how people had to be volunteers before they were invited to be Panthers.
He also mentions the different ways that COINTELPRO created divisions and friction within the Party by using informants and fabricated letters.
He then mentions the importance of bringing in new blood and at some point, that stopped. In addition, the importance of capital and lack there of within the Party.
“you need capital to function in a capitalistic society.” (page 152)
Chapter VII: “All Power to the People”: The Political Thought of Huey P. Newton and The Black Panther Party | Floyd W. Hayes, III, and Francis A. Kiene, III
The importance of organizing the lumpen proletariat or as Huey phrased it, “the street brothers,” because if you did not organize them first, then the system would organize them against you. (page 160-161)
Newton also considered that the increase in technology would lead to the “possibility that the working class could be transformed out of existence.” (page 161)
Went over the ideological development of the Black Panther Party:
Black Nationalism —
the october 1966 platform and programs held a Black nationalism perspective (page 162) stressing racial solidarity and Black people having a unique identity (primary principle of Black Nationalism)
Revolutionary Nationalism — (page 164) nationalism and socialism
“a people’s revolution with the end goal being the people in power. Therefore, to be a revolutionary nationalist you would by necessity have to be a socialist.” — Huey P. Newton (page 164)
"their struggle centered on destroying the conditions that generated the twin evils of capitalism and racism.” (page 165)
Revolutionary Internationalism — (page 169)
“the only way we can combat an international enemy is through an international strategy, unity of all people who are exploited, who will overthrow the international bourgeoisie, and replace it with a dictatorship by the proletariat, the workers of the world.” — Huey P. Newton (page 169)
Had to do with the idea that nationhood was no longer an option because the United States was an empire that stretched globally, so Black people in the US had to align themselves with people around the world and start thinking on an international level.
Revolutionary Intercommunalism — (page 170)
Because of United States imperialism and its empire, there were no longer nations around the world, but oppressed and exploited global communities.
“We pledge ourselves to end imperialism and distribute the wealth of the world to all the people of the world. We foresee a system of true communism where all people produce according to their abilities and all receive according to their needs.” — The Panthers (page 171)
However, the Panthers practiced top-down ideology theorizing. Therefore, the rank and file members of the party were often disconnected from this change in ideology and the political education classes did not directly reflect this change in ideology.
Chapter VIII: “Serving the People”: The Survival Programs of The Black Panther Party | JoNina M. Abron
“A lot of people misunderstand the politics of these programs; some people have a tendency to call them reform programs. They’re not reform programs; they’re actually revolutionary community programs. A revolutionary program is set forth by revolutionaries, by those who want to change the existing system to a better system. A reform program is set up by the existing exploitative system as an appeasing handout to fool the people and keep them quiet.” — Bobby Seale (page 178)
The four social policy areas of the survival programs: human sustenance, health, education, and criminal justice.
Chapter IX: Reading the “Voice of the Vanguard”: A Content Analysis of the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service, 1969 - 1973 | Christian A. Davenport
characteristics of alternative modes of communication (The Black Panther): (page 195)
1. “they attempt to create an alternative evaluation of political, social, and economic reality that might provide insights or different solutions from those that are already current in the mainstream.”
2. “they advocate political positions not expressed within the more established media”
3. “they attempt to decrease the legitimacy of existing political and economic relations”
4. “they increase the visibility of the dissident individuals/groups they represent by promoting the group’s ideas in order to garner support and/or increase membership”
5. “they help provide an identity for the dissident individuals/groups they represent as well as their constituency”
6. “they generate revenue for other activities.”
Each Panther member was responsible for selling an allotted amount of papers for 25 cents each, of which they kept 10 cents for themselves.
Chapter X: Back to Africa: The Evolution of the International Section of the Black Panther Party (1969-1972) | Kathleen Neal Cleaver
Algeria allowed the BPP to be stationed there and become official, but did declined any concrete indications of this official status. (page 227)
The International Section of the BPP was made up of mainly fugitives and began to grow because of repression by the US government.
Chapter XI: Why I Joined the Party: An Africana Womanist Reflection | Regina Jennings
"Party discipline entailed a marathon of push-ups or pumping X number of laps around the corner." (page 261)
"…I witnessed how hard some Whites worked on the Free Huey campaign. I always wondered and openly asked why they were not working as aggressively to solve the racism that existed within their own communities." (page 261)
Chapter XII: “No One Ever Asks, What a Man’s Place in the Revolution Is”: Gender and the Politics of The Black Panther Party 1966-1971 | Tracye Matthews
“The problem of male supremacy can’t be overcome unless it’s a two-way street. Men must struggle too.” — Panther Roberta Alexander (July 1969) (page 283)
Early on in the Party, there seems to be a often shared sentiment of Black Panther men that Black Panther women and Black women in general are in on emasculation of Black men because of the matriarchal role of Black women in many family spaces. It was also often stated that the BPP was there for the purpose of Black masculinity.
There was also an internal struggle going on with Black women in the Party about their own role in relation to the role of Black women both within and outside the Party. (page 287) It is important to consider the diverse amount of experiences within the Party in relation to gender and roles.
Chapter XIII: “The Most Qualified Person to Handle the Job”: Black Panther Party Women, 1966-1982 | Angela D. LeBlanc-Ernest
1966-1971 — Revolutionary Years
Elaine Brown, Ericka Huggins, Barbara Sankey, Ann Campbell, Afeni Shakur, Yvonne King, and Audrea Jones among many women who became leaders of their respective chapters during this revolutionary phase (page 310)
female comrades in the organization “would like to be regarded as Panthers not females (Pantherettes), just Panthers.” — June Colbertson (page 312)
Joan Bird and Afeni Shakur were members of the New York 21, who were arrested in April, 1969 “on conspiracy charges to bomb police stations, a city commuter train, the Bronx Botanical Gardens, and five department stores. Eventually they were acquitted in April 1971, after they faced brutal treatment during incarceration. “Put under 24-hour solitary lock-up, denied access to the library, medical and recreational facilities and were not allowed to meet jointly with council.” (page 313)
“we [members of the Black Panther Party] recognize the woman’s right to be free.” — Huey Newton, August 15, 1970 (page 315)
1971-1974 — Period of Deradicalization
“Between October 1972 and May 1973, women represented approximately 45% of the total membership and more than 85% of the female members had some form of college education.” (page 318)
1972-1973 were the years that the BPP switched their efforts to becoming elected to as many political positions as possible all across the nation.
"having or not having a child, or having it not having an abortion, was left as an individual decision." — Elaine Brown (page 321)
1974-1977 — leadership of Elaine Brown
1974 leadership vacuum because of the resignation of Bobby Seale and the exile of Huey Newton.
Elaine Brown appointed 4 other women to the Central Committee during her tenure: (page 322)
- Ericka Huggins: director of Oakland Community Schools
- Phyllis Jackson: coordinated campaign workers
- Joan Kelley: administer of activities such as the survival programs and legal matters.
- Norma Armour: coordinated organizational finances.
1977-1982 — final phase
By 1980, the BPP had 27 members according to organizational reports (page 324)
Chapter XIV: Lumpenization: A Critical Error of The Black Panther Party | Chris Booker
"The primary thesis of this essays is that the criminal element within the lumpen developed a modus operandi that created a sociopolitical milieu inimicable to a stable political organization." (page 338)
Six key events adding to the prestige of the Black Panther Party:
1. Security for Betty Shabazz
2. Rallying around the murder of Denzil Dowell
3. Recruitment of Eldridge Cleaver
4. May 2, 1967 “invasion” it the California State Assembly during the debate of the Mumford Bill.
5. October 28, 1967 shoot-out between Huey Newton and two police officers.
6. April 6, 1968 shoot-out with Oakland police that left Bobby Hutton dead.
The BPP targeted three levels of oppressors:
- “”greedy, exploiting, rich, avaricious businessmen” who exploited the Black community.”
- “”the misleading, lying, tricky, demagogic politician” who played upon the community’s woes”
- “the atrocious, murdering brutalizing, intimidating, fascist, pig cops.”
Without political education, a gun is just a gun. A gun needs to be utilized with purpose and intention for the people. There must be no ego and self in this action.
Reading this makes me think of the importance of healing as revolutionary work.. Party members brought violence with them, especially as members of the lumpen. without the healing, they perpetuated these oppressive acts and systems within the party on other members and they became structures.
(this article calls for the reformation of new members. I would challenge this use of the word “reform” and replace it with “heal”)
Because of this violence brought into the party, the means of discipline also tended to be physical forms of violence, such as slaps, or “mud holing” — person stands in the middle and everyone stomps them down. (page 355)
Chapter XV: The Black Panther Party: State Repression and Political Prisoners | Winston A. Grady-Willis
“This essay analyzes the systemic and comprehensive government assault by local, state, and federal police agencies against the Party.” (page 363)
Chapter XVI: Explaining the Demise of the Black Panther Party: The Role of Internal Factors | Ollie. A. Johnson, III
“the leadership contributed decisively to the eventual collapse of the organization in three ways:”
Strategic Organizational Mistakes
1972 Newton presents Central Committee with two ideas: (page 403)
1. “the Party should run Bobby Seale, leading a full slate of Panther candidates for local office, for mayor of Oakland”
2. “the Party should close all chapters outside of Oakland and redeploy all Panthers and heir resources (money, cars, office materials, etc.) to Oakland to work on the campaign and consolidate the Party at its birthplace.”
A New Authoritarianism by Huey P. Newton
After 1972, Newton required that all the money coming into the Oakland branch go straight to him and he would distribute it out to the programs. (page 406)
“all Party organizational entities were influenced by the founders’ organizing principles of democratic centralism and strict discipline.” (page 399)
Chapter XVII: Set Out Warriors Free: The Legacy of the Black Panther Party and Political Prisoners | Akinyele Omowale Umoja
More that 100 inmates in US prisons have been defined as political prisoners and a third of them were members or affiliates to the Black Panther Party.
People have tried to claim prisoner of war (POW) status without any success. These political prisoners and prisoners of war get extended maximum sentences, time in solitary confinement, and sensory deprivation solely because of their political beliefs.
“Our daily existence is harsher than met other prisoners because the government does everything possible to break us. They send us to the harshest prisons … as far away from family, friends, and attorneys as possible. They lock us down for many years in isolation units while cutting off our communications with most of the outside world. They tamper with our food, try to break up out families, and treat them rudely when they visit, fail to provide adequate medical care, aggravate and provoke us. They try to set us up to be brutalized or killed by guards or preferably by other prisoners. All this, and more, to try to break our spirits and/or to make us proclaim to the world that we were wrong to struggle.” — New Afrikan P.O.W. Sundiata Acoli
Chapter XVIII: To Fight for the People: The Black Panther Party and Black Politics in the 1990s | Clarence Lusane