New Black Panther members mobilized their forces in Georgia, thus marking Independence Day.
Learn more about the untold history of the Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.
It advocated for Black liberation and combated police brutality with armed patrols known as “copwatching.”
There were violent encounters with cops and accusations of gang activity. J. Edgar Hoover said the BPP “represents the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”
The BPP also launched dozens of social programs including free breakfasts and medical clinics.
The Black Panther Party was one of the most influential grassroots political forces of the 20th century.
Founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966, the Panthers eschewed civil disobedience in favor of armed shows of force, particularly to confront police violence.
The BPP was controversial from the start: There were shootouts with police, murders, and accusations the Party was a front for drug-dealing, prostitution, and extortion.
But the BPP’s belief in Black self-determination fueled dozens of social programs benefiting tens of thousands, including free-breakfast programs and no-cost medical clinics.
Eventually, the Party opened “liberation schools,” where children learned Black history and political science. They practiced penmanship by writing letters to incarcerated members.
At its height, the BPP had thousands of members in nearly 70 cities. In-fighting, FBI infiltration, and other factors led to the group’s decline, and the Panthers officially dissolved in 1982.
The Black Panther Party was formed in response to the killing of an unarmed Black teen by police.
On September 27, 1966, a police officer shot Matthew Johnson, an unarmed 16-year-old, in the back in San Francisco’s Hunters Point neighborhood, sparking violent unrest for several days.
Huey Newton decided the only way to address police brutality was to monitor the authorities. He read up on California’s open-carry laws and, within weeks, had armed men patrolling the streets of Oakland.
If they saw an arrest, they would approach with their firearms visible and inform the suspects of their rights. The practice came to be known as “copwatching.”