This weekend we went to see Lee Daniels’ movie The Butler. Through the fictional character of Louis Gaines, a young member of the Black Panther Party, we discovered a little more about the history of this controversial American black party.
The Black Panther Party – originally Black Panther Party For Self-defense – was founded in 1966 in California at the time of the escalation of the Civil Rights movement and following the assassination of Malcom X. Established by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, its original purpose was to watch and protect black ghettoes that had were becoming more and more the stages of a pitiless police brutality. “We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our black Community“, so was requested by Article 1 of their Ten Point Program. Eventually, the small party evolved from a black nationalist to a marxist leninist one, although never did it achieve a strong ideological consensus. What distinguish the Panthers was the fact that they were convinced that Martin Luther King’s advocacy of non violence was not going to succeed and that the movement would be smashed. The revenge component was as strong one as James Forman words show: “For my assassination—and I’m the low man on the totem pole—I want 30 police stations blown up, one southern governor, two mayors, and 500 cops,dead“.
In the late 1960s, party membership was at is peak with more than 2000 members. Yet, their violent methods made them lose most of its affiliates and by the early 1982, the Panthers were effectively dissolved. Learn more about the party’s history here !