The Black Panthers were a popular militant black activist group that was founded in the 1960’s by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The Black Panther Party got its start in Oakland, California. They stood up for civil rights, but instead of only advocating peaceful protest, they also indulged in violence when necessary and had frequent skirmishes with the police.
The Black Panthers believed in defending the black community and they were leaders in community based programs to feed the children and help the poor. One of the things they believed in was revolutionary socialism. The Panthers made history by being the first political organization to fight for black freedom in a militant way. They were fighting for freedom and equality and they wanted both color and gender equality.
The Black Panthers were influenced by Malcolm X and they built the theory of their party around his ideas. They wanted to foster self-respect in black people and were willing to fight for it. They were influential in setting up a wide number of social programs for people in the black community including education and medical programs. They brought about positive social change, but were deemed extremely dangerous by the United States government which sought to discredit them.
The Panthers were labeled as dangerous and threatening, and the government tried to infiltrate the group and raid it to remove the key players. Their vision of unity was just too scary for the mainstream. They embraced Marxist theories and wanted to be at the front of the revolution and they really were. They marched and took on the establishment with protests that often turned violent. A police officer was killed in a protest, yet they continued to form alliances with many of the progressive political parties of the time.
The Black Panthers were raised to celebrity status and many white people wanted to join them which caused a lot of arguing withing the group as some people felt that allowing whites in was against the black liberation movement. The Black Panthers influence can still be felt today in disadvantaged communities. Communities still offer free breakfast programs for school children. At the height of the black liberation movement, the Black Panthers were feeding breakfast to over 10,000 kids a day. They did lots of good in the community and organized free medical centers and even hosted blood drives.