U.S. History 1877-Present 11.7: Huey Pierce Newton
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The Black Panther Party fought for equality and civil rights... They also made the last stand for berets as a fashion statement.
|U.S. History||U.S. History 1877-Present|
the early 1960s Newton, like so many black Americans got fed up with the [Huey chucks away paper with headline about MLK]
nonviolent civil rights movement. Rather than spending his college years at frat
parties, newton dug into his studies looking for answers to America's race [Huey at the library with lots of books]
problem. He said 'whatevs' to the peace-loving Christian philosophy of MLK.
Instead he spent his time flipping through the pages of radical nationalist
leaders like Frantz Fannon, Che Guevara Mao Zedong and of course Malcolm X.
While in college Newton struck up a friendship with another student, Bobby Seale. [Picture of Bobby Seale at a podium]
Like Newton he had become especially interested in black liberation struggles
in Africa, and was head over heels for the Black Power philosophy of Malcolm X. [Bobby Seale reading 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X']
Well after hearing the militant black leader speak he decided he would become
a soldier in the struggle against inequality. And he didn't mean the
soldier thing metaphorically... Together in 1966 Huey Newton and Bobby Seale dreamed [Bobby Seale imagining himself as a soldier]
up a new civil rights organization. Sick of police brutality and economic
oppression, they created the Black Panther Party for self-defense. This [Bobby Seale and Huey Newton wearing berets]
revolutionary group would demand more political and economic power for their
people, and they did it while arming themselves to the teeth. In 1966
California it was totally legal for citizens to carry an unconcealed loaded [People walking round holding guns]
weapon. So that's just what the Black Panthers did, bearing arms they patrolled
black neighborhoods and specifically followed police who they saw as
violently racist against their people. Their goal was to show the Oakland [Panthers chasing the police away]
Community that the police could be intimidated. They wanted to demystify the
power of white society and empower black people to challenge racial injustices.
Of course the original black panthers weren't only about militancy.
Each party member was required to participate in outreach programs. They
gave free breakfasts to school children, tutored adults in English and math, helped [Huey giving out breakfast]
the elderly and disabled and gave everybody free pony rides. Well... pony [Bobby Seale helping an elderly man across the road]
rides would have been nice... Well, none of this did anything to endear the Panthers
to FBI director J Edgar Hoover who labeled them the greatest threat to [Picture of director Hoover]
national security next to aliens... from Mars... but Hoover wasn't allowed to talk
publicly about them... With media coverage of shootouts, murders and court trials [Footage of violent scenes on an old TV]
involving the Black Panther Party word quickly spread about Panthers. More and
more the idea of black power became directly associated with the signature
panther look that being a young gun wielding African-American wearing dark
clothing and a black beret with one fist clenched in the air. By 1970 the Black [Panther members with their fists in the air]
Panther Party for self-defense had grown seriously popular. Not quite as popular
as Simon and Garfunkel, because come on, who can touch Simon and Garfunkel but
still they were popular. Inner-city black youths were particularly inspired and soon [Young child putting his hands in the air]
there were black panther chapters in a ton of major cities; Los Angeles, Chicago
Cincinnati, New York, Boston. Yep, there was a panther party going on. Ironically
this rapid growth is what ended up doing the Panthers in. Many of the new recruits
got excited about toting guns and raising their fists but they glossed [Crowd of people holding guns rushes past the elderly man and knock him over]
over the Panthers humanitarian efforts and long-term political goals. Leaders
lost control and the disagreement in the Panthers rings turned into one big cat [Leaders in a car start fighting and the car crashes]
fight. In fighting corruption and efforts by the FBI made the Panthers collapse. By
the mid-1970s well the party was kaput. They may have been controversial but [Crowd of people holding guns disappear]
well they sure knew how to rock a beret, seriously no disputing that one...