The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense
-compiled by Mariah White

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed in October of 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California. The party was a organization formed for the militant self-defense of minorities, especially African-Americans.

Bobby Seale (left) and Huey Newton (right) stand clad in the typical Black Panthers uiniform of black leather jacket, black beret, and black pants.
Bobby Seale (left) and Huey Newton (right) stand clad in the typical Black Panthers uiniform of black leather jacket, black beret, and black pants.

The Ten-Point Program
The Black Panthers were organized on the basis of a "Ten-Point Program" written by co-founder Huey Newton. The points were demands for the end to white supremacy. The points were these:
"1.) We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black community.
2.) We want full employment for our people.
3.) We want an end to the robbery by the Capitalists of our Black community.
4.) We want decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings.
5.) We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.
6.) We want all black men to be exempt from military service. [Their reasoning was that Black men should not be forced to serve a government made of racist white people that does not protect them.]
7.) We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.
8.) We want freedom for all Black men held in Federal, State, County, and City Prisons and Jails. [Their reasoning was that these men were never given a fair trial to begin with.]
9.) We want all Black people, when brought to trial, to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black communities, as defined by the constitution of the United States.
10.) We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace." ---Huey Newton

Stokely Carmichael
Stokely Carmichael

The Panthers were also required to adhere to a set of rules, generally banning the use of drugs and narcotics, especially when on Panther duty, unneccisary use of his or her weapon, and the commitment of crimes against the oppressed, among other things.

Major Players
  • Bobby Seale---Co-Founder of the Black Panthers, he was also Chairman and National Organizer.
  • Huey Newton---Co-Founder of the Black Panthers, he was also Minister of Defense.
  • Eldridge Cleaver---The Panthers' Minister of Information, he also began the "Free Huey" movement.
  • Stokely Carmichael---First Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Commitee (SNCC), he became connected to the party through the "Free Huey" movement. In February, 1968, he became the Panther's Prime Minister. He is the author of the slogan "Black Power" found in his famous speech also titled "Black Power." (For this speech, please feel free to visit
  • J. Edgar Hoover---Director of the FBI. Hoover worked agianst the Black Panthers' efforts.

Timeline of Events

  • October, 1966---The Black Panther Party formed.
  • April 25, 1967---The Panthers official newspaper, The Black Panther, was first distributed.
  • March, 1967---Lead by Bobby Seale, the Panthers march on California's capital in protest to the attempted prohibition of carrying loaded weapons in public. Seale and all 30 Panthers were arrested.
  • October, 1967---Huey Newton, the Panthers' Defense Minister, was arrested for killing an Oakland police officer. Eldridge Cleaver begins the "Free Huey" Movement. Through this movement, Stokely Carmichael began his contribution to the Black Panthers.
  • January, 1969---The first breakfast in the Free Breakfast for School Children Program (designed to give children an opportunity to eat before school when they would normally go to school hungry) is held in St. Augustine's Church (Oakland). At the end of 1969, the Panthers had established kitchens across the nation, feeding over 10,000 children each day.
  • December 4, 1969---Fred Hampton, local Chicago Panther leader, and Mark Clark, Panther member, were murdered in their sleep by Chigago Police forces. Hampton's pregnant wife and four other Panthers are also wounded. All Panther members that survived the incident were then arrested for "attempted murder of the Police and aggravated assalt."
  • March, 1970---Seale Publishes his book on Huey Newton and the story of the Black Panthers while in prison (for protesting in the Democratic National Convention in 1968. [Side Note: Seale was arrested for this in 1969.]) The book is titled Sieze The Time.
  • March, 1970---The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) began sending forged letters to several Panther members, especially Eldridge Cleaver who was in exile in Algiers. Eventually, Cleaver left the Panthers believing the fictionalized plot to remove him from power.
  • 1973---Seale runs for Mayor of Oakland, recieving 40% of the vote. However, he looses the election.
  • In the beginning of the 1980s, the Black Panthers began to fall apart. This was largely due to internal discrepancies and attacks on the party.

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