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Black Power movement

The Black Power movement emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions for black people in the United States.

Black Power movement
Part of the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement
Black Panther convention2.jpg
Black Panther at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, June 1970
Date 1965—1985
Location United States

The movement grew out of the Civil rights movement, as black activists experimented with forms of self-advocacy ranging from political lobbying to armed struggle. The Black Power movement served as a focal point for the view that reformist and pacifist elements of the Civil Rights Moment were not effective in changing race relations.

Motivated by a desire for safety and self-sufficiency that was not available inside redline neighborhoods, Black Power activists founded black-owned bookstores, food cooperatives, farms, media, printing presses, schools, clinics and ambulance services.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The international impact of the movement includes the Black Power Revolution in Trinidad and Tobago.[7]

While black American thinkers such as Robert F. Williams and Malcolm X influenced the early Black Power movement, the Black Panther Party and its views are widely seen as the cornerstone. It was influenced by philosophies such as pan-Africanism, black nationalism and socialism, as well as contemporary events like the Cuban Revolution and the decolonization of Africa.[8]

At the movement's peak in the early 1970s, some of its more militant leaders were killed during conflicts with police, prompting many activists to abandon the movement.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

The first popular use of the term "Black Power" as a social and racial slogan was by Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) and Willie Ricks (later known as Mukasa Dada), both organizers and spokespersons for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. On June 16, 1966, in a speech in Greenwood, Mississippi, during the March Against Fear, Carmichael led the marchers in a chant for black power that was televised nationally.[9]

By the late 1960s, Black Power came to represent the demand for more immediate violent action to counter American white supremacy. Most of these ideas were influenced by Malcolm X's criticism of Martin Luther King Jr.'s peaceful protest methods. The 1965 assassination of Malcolm X coupled with the urban uprisings of 1964 and 1965 ignited the movement. New organizations that supported Black Power philosophies ranging from socialism to black nationalism, including the Black Panther Party, grew to prominence.[10]

HistoryEdit

Beginning in the early 1960sEdit

The organization Nation of Islam began as a black nationalist movement in the 1930s, inspiring later groups.[11] Malcolm X is largely credited with the group's dramatic increase in membership between the early 1950s and early 1960s (from 500 to 25,000 by one estimate; from 1,200 to 50,000 or 75,000 by another).[12][13] In March 1964, Malcolm X left the Nation due to disagreements with Elijah Muhammad; among other things, he cited his interest in working with other civil rights leaders, saying that Muhammad had prevented him from doing so.[14] Later, Malcolm X also said Muhammad had engaged in extramarital affairs with young Nation secretaries‍—‌a serious violation of the group's teachings.[15] On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot and killed while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York.[16] Three Nation members were convicted of assassinating him.[17][18][19]

After the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee decided to break its ties with the mainstream civil rights movement. They argued that blacks needed to build power of their own, rather than seek accommodations from the power structure in place. SNCC migrated from a philosophy of nonviolence to one of greater militancy after the mid-1960s.[20] The organization established ties with radical groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society.

In late October 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. In formulating a new politics, they drew on their experiences working with a variety of Black Power organizations.[21]

Focus on educationEdit

The Black Panther Party's Ten-Point Program included point five, "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." This sentiment was echoed in many of the other Black Power organizations; the inadequacy of black education had earlier been remarked on by W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Carter G. Woodson.

With this backdrop, Stokely Carmichael brought political education into his work with SNCC in the rural South. This included get-out-the-vote campaigns[22] and political literacy. Bobby Seale and Huey Newton used education to address the lack of identity in the black community. Seale had worked with youth in an after-school program before starting the Panthers. Through this new education and identity building, they believed they could empower black Americans to claim their freedom.

Escalation in the late 1960sEdit

The Black Panther Party initially utilized open-carry gun laws to protect party members and local black communities from law enforcement. Party members also recorded incidents of police brutality by distantly following police cars around neighborhoods.[23] Numbers grew slightly starting in February 1967, when the party provided an armed escort at the San Francisco airport for Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X's widow and keynote speaker at conference held in his honor.[24] By 1967, the SNCC began to fall apart due to policy disputes in its leadership and many members left for the Black Panthers.[25] Throughout 1967 the Panthers staged rallies and disrupted the California State Assembly with armed marchers.[26] In late 1967 the FBI developed COINTELPRO to investigate black nationalist groups and other civil rights leaders.[27] By 1969, the Black Panthers and their allies had become primary COINTELPRO targets, singled out in 233 of the 295 authorized "black nationalist" COINTELPRO actions. In 1968 the Republic of New Afrika was founded, a separatist group seeking a black country in the southern United States, only to dissolve by the early 1970s.

By 1968, many Black Panther leaders had been arrested, including founder Huey Newton for the murder of a police officer (Newton's proseuction was eventually dismissed), yet membership surged. Black Panthers later engaged the police in a firefight in a Los Angeles gas station. In the same year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, creating nationwide riots, the widest wave of social unrest since the American Civil War.[28] In Cleveland, Ohio, the "Republic of New Libya" engaged the police in the Glenville shootout, which was followed by rioting.[29] The year also marked the start of the White Panther Party, a group of whites dedicated to the cause of the Black Panthers. Founders Pun Plamondon and John Sinclair were arrested, but eventually freed, in connection to the bombing of a Central Intelligence Agency office in Ann Arbor, Michigan that September.[30]

By 1969, the Black Panthers began purging members due to fear of law enforcement infiltration and engaged in multiple gunfights with police, and one with a black nationalist organization. The Panthers continued their "Free Huey" campaign internationally. In the spirit of rising militancy, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers was formed in Detroit, which supported labor rights and black liberation.

Peak in the early 1970sEdit

In 1970 the Honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party, Stokely Carmichael, traveled to various countries to discuss methods to resist "American imperialism".[31] In Trinidad, the black power movement had escalated into the Black Power Revolution in which many Afro-Trinidadians forced the government of Trinidad to give into reforms. Later many Panthers visited Algeria to discuss Pan-Africanism and anti-imperialism. In the same year former Black Panthers formed the Black Liberation Army to continue a violent revolution rather than the party's new reform movements.[32] On October 22, 1970, the Black Liberation Army is believed to have planted a bomb in St. Brendan's Church in San Francisco while it was full of mourners attending the funeral of San Francisco police officer Harold Hamilton, who had been killed in the line of duty while responding to a bank robbery. The bomb was detonated, but no one in the church suffered serious injuries.[33]

In 1971, several Panther officials fled the U.S. due to police concerns. This was the only active year of the Black Revolutionary Assault Team, a group that bombed the New York South African consular office in protest of apartheid. On September 20 it placed bombs at the UN Missions of Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) and the Republic of Malawi.[34] In February 1971, ideological splits within the Black Panther Party between leaders Newton and Eldridge Cleaver led to two factions within the party; the conflict turned violent and four people were killed in a series of assassinations.[35] On May 21, 1971, five Black Liberation Army members participated in the shootings of two New York City police officers, Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. Those brought to trial for the shootings include Anthony Bottom (also known as Jalil Muntaqim), Albert Washington, Francisco Torres, Gabriel Torres, and Herman Bell.[citation needed]

During the jail sentence of White Panther John Sinclair a "Free John" concert took place, including John Lennon and Stevie Wonder. Sinclair was released two days later. On August 29, three BLA members murdered San Francisco police sergeant John Victor Young at his police station. Two days later, the San Francisco Chronicle received a letter signed by the BLA claiming responsibility for the attack.[citation needed] Late in the year Huey Newton visited China for meetings on Maoist theory and anti-imperialism.[36] Black Power icon George Jackson attempted to escape from prison in August, killing seven hostage only to be killed himself.[37] Jackson's death triggered the Attica Prison uprising which was later ended in a bloody siege. On November 3 Officer James R. Greene of the Atlanta Police Department was shot and killed in his patrol van at a gas station by Black Liberation Army members.[38]

1972 was the year Newton shut down many Black Panther chapters and held a party meeting in Oakland, California. On January 27, the Black Liberation Army assassinated police officers Gregory Foster and Rocco Laurie in New York City. After the killings, a note sent to authorities portrayed the murders as a retaliation for the prisoner deaths during 1971 Attica prison riot. To date no arrests have been made.[citation needed] In the same year, MOVE was founded and engaged in demonstrations for environmentalism and black power.[39][self-published source] On July 31, five armed BLA members hijacked Delta Air Lines Flight 841, eventually collecting a ransom of $1 million and diverting the plane, after passengers were released, to Algeria. The authorities there seized the ransom but allowed the group to flee. Four were eventually caught by French authorities in Paris, where they were convicted of various crimes, but one – George Wright – remained a fugitive until September 26, 2011, when he was captured in Portugal.[40] After being accused of murdering a prostitute in 1974, Huey Newton fled to Cuba. Elaine Brown became party leader and embarked on an election campaign.[41]

Deescalation in the late 1970sEdit

In the late 1970s a rebel group named after the killed prisoner formed the George Jackson Brigade. From March 1975 to December 1977, the Brigade robbed at least seven banks and detonated about 20 pipe bombs – mainly targeting government buildings, electric power facilities, Safeway stores, and companies accused of racism. In 1977, Newton returned from exile in Cuba. Shortly afterward, Elaine Brown resigned from the party and fled to Los Angeles.[42] The Party fell apart, leaving only a few members.[43]

MOVE became a communal living group. When police raided their house a firefight broke out; one officer was killed, seven other police officers, five firefighters, three MOVE members, and three bystanders were also injured.[44] In another high-profile incident of the Black Liberation Army, Assata Shakur, Zayd Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were said to have opened fire on state troopers in New Jersey after being pulled over for a broken taillight. Zayd Shakur and state trooper Werner Foerster were both killed during the exchange. Following her capture, Assata Shakur was tried in six different criminal trials. According to Shakur, she was beaten and tortured during her incarceration in a number of different federal and state prisons. The charges ranged from kidnapping to assault and battery to bank robbery. Assata Shakur was found guilty of the murder of both Foerster and her companion Zayd Shakur, but escaped prison in 1979 and eventually fled to Cuba and received political asylum. Acoli was convicted of killing Foerster and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1978 a group of Black Liberation Army and Weather Underground members formed named the May 19th Communist Organization, or M19CO. It also included members of the Black Panthers and the Republic of New Africa.[45][46] In 1979 three M19CO members walked into the visitor's center at the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women near Clinton, New Jersey. They took two guards hostage and freed Shakur. Several months later M19CO arranged for the escape of William Morales, a member of Puerto Rican separatist group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña from Bellevue Hospital in New York City, where he was recovering after a bomb he was building exploded in his hands.[45]

Decline in the 1980sEdit

Over the 1980s the Black Power movement continued despite a decline in its popularity and organization memberships. The Black Liberation Army was active in the US until at least 1981 when a Brinks truck robbery, conducted with support from former Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, left a guard and two police officers dead. Boudin and Gilbert, along with several BLA members, were subsequently arrested.[47] M19CO engaged in a bombing campaign in the 1980s. They targeted a series of government and commercial buildings, including the U.S. Senate. On November 3, 1984, two members of the M19CO, Susan Rosenberg and Timothy Blunk, were arrested at a mini-warehouse they had rented in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Police recovered more than 100 blasting caps, nearly 200 sticks of dynamite, more than 100 cartridges of gel explosive, and 24 bags of blasting agent from the warehouse. The M19CO alliance's last bombing was on February 23, 1985, at the Policemen's Benevolent Association in New York City.

MOVE had relocated to Philadelphia after the earlier shootout. On May 13, 1985, the police, along with city manager Leo Brooks, arrived with arrest warrants and attempted to clear the building and arrest the indicted MOVE members.[48] This led to an armed standoff with police,[49] who lobbed tear gas canisters at the building. MOVE members shot at the police, who returned fire with automatic weapons.[50] The police then bombed the house, causing a large fire.[50][48])[51]

In 1989, well into the waning years of the movement, the New Black Panther Party formed. In the same year on August 22, Huey P. Newton was fatally shot outside by 24-year-old Black Guerilla Family member Tyrone Robinson.[52]

TodayEdit

 
New Black Panther Party members marching in 2007

After the 1970s the Black Power movement saw a decline, but not an end. In the year 1998 the Black Radical Congress was founded, with debatable effects. The Black Riders Liberation Party was created by Bloods and Crips gang members as an attempt to recreate the Black Panther Party in 1996. The group has spread, creating chapters in cities across the United States, and frequently staging paramilitary marches.[53] During the 2008 presidential election New Black Panther Party members were accused voter intimidation at a polling station in a predominantly black, Democratic voting district of Philadelphia.[54] After the politically upsetting shooting of Trayvon Martin black power paramilitaries formed, including the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, African American Defense League, and the New Black Liberation Militia, all staging armed marches and military training.[citation needed]

Some have compared the modern movement Black Lives Matter to the Black Power movement, noting its similarities.[55]

MediaEdit

Just as Black Power activists focused on community control of schools and politics, the movement took a major interest in creating and controlling its own media institutions. Most famously, the Black Panther Party produced the Black Panther newspaper, which proved to be one of the BPP's most influential tools for disseminating its message and recruiting new members.

WAFR was launched in September 1971 as the first public, community-based black radio station. The Durham, North Carolina, station broadcast until 1976, but influenced later activist radio stations including WPFW in Washington, D.C. and WRFG in Atlanta.[56]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Davis, Joshua Clark. "Black-Owned Bookstores: Anchors of the Black Power Movement – AAIHS". Aaihs.org. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  2. ^ Konadu, Kwasi (2009-01-01). A View from the East: Black Cultural Nationalism and Education in New York City. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815651017.
  3. ^ Klehr, Harvey (1988-01-01). Far Left of Center: The American Radical Left Today. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9781412823432.
  4. ^ "Black Power TV | Duke University Press". Dukeupress.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  5. ^ "The Black Power movement and its schools | Cornell Chronicle". News.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  6. ^ Nelson, Alondra (2011-01-01). Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9781452933221.
  7. ^ "Black power movement facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Black power movement". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  8. ^ Komozi Woodard, "Rethinking the Black Power Movement", Africana Age.
  9. ^ Hasan Jeffries (2010). Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt. NYU Press. p. 187. ISBN 9780814743065.
  10. ^ "Black power movement facts, information, pictures - Encyclopedia.com articles about Black power movement". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  11. ^ Muhammad, Tynetta. "Nation of Islam History". Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  12. ^ Lomax, Louis E. (1963). When the Word Is Given: A Report on Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and the Black Muslim World. Cleveland: World Publishing. pp. 15–16. OCLC 1071204. Estimates of the Black Muslim membership vary from a quarter of a million down to fifty thousand. Available evidence indicates that about one hundred thousand Negroes have joined the movement at one time or another, but few objective observers believe that the Black Muslims can muster more than twenty or twenty-five thousand active temple people.
  13. ^ Marable, Manning (2011). Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. New York: Viking. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-670-02220-5.
  14. ^ Handler, M. S. (March 9, 1964). "Malcolm X Splits with Muhammad". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2017. (Subscription required (help)).
  15. ^ Perry, Bruce (1991). Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America. Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill. pp. 230–234. ISBN 978-0-88268-103-0.
  16. ^ "Malcolm X Assassinated". History.com. 2009. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  17. ^ Buckley, Thomas (March 11, 1966). "Malcolm X Jury Finds 3 Guilty". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2014. (Subscription required (help)).
  18. ^ Roth, Jack (April 15, 1966). "3 Get Life Terms in Malcolm Case". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2014. (Subscription required (help)).
  19. ^ "Quotes: Half a century after his death, Malcolm X speaks". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  20. ^ >. "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  21. ^ Seale, 1970, part I; Newton, 1973, parts 2-3; Bloom and Martin, 2013, chapter 1; Murch, 2010, part II and chapter 5.
  22. ^ Ture, Kwame; Hamilton, Charles V. (1992). Black Power: the Politics of Liberation in America. New York: Vintage Books. p. 114. ISBN 0679743138. OCLC 26096713.
  23. ^ Bloom and Martin, 45.
  24. ^ Black Panther Newspaper, May 15, 1967, p. 3; Bloom and Martin, 71–72.
  25. ^ C. Gerald Fraser, "SNCC Has Lost Much of Its Power to Black Panthers", New York Times news service (Eugene Register-Guard), October 9, 1968.
  26. ^ Pearson, 129.
  27. ^ Stohl, 249.
  28. ^ Peter B. Levy, Baltimore '68, p. 6
  29. ^ "Glenville Shootout – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. A joint effort by Case Western University and the Western Reserve Historical Society. March 27, 1998. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  30. ^ Zbrozek, C (October 24, 2006). "The bombing of the A2 CIA office". Michigan Daily. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  31. ^ Joseph, Peniel E. Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America. Henry Holt and Company, 2007.
  32. ^ Marie-Agnès Combesque, "Caged panthers", Le Monde diplomatique, 2005.
  33. ^ Van Derbeken and Lagos. "Ex-militants charged in S.F. police officer's '71 slaying at station", San Francisco Chronicle (January 23, 2007).
  34. ^ Edward F. Mickolaus, Transnational Terrorism: a chronology of events, Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1980, p. 258.
  35. ^ Donald Cox, "Split in the Party", New Political Science, Vol. 21, No. 2, 1999.
  36. ^ Revolutionary Suicide Penguin classics Delux Edition" page 352
  37. ^ "Attempted Escape At San Quentin Leaves Six Dead". Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Maine. UPI. August 23, 1971. pp. 1, 3. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
  38. ^ "Fulton Co. District Attorney Report". Fultonda.org. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  39. ^ Louise Leaphart James (2013). John Africa...Childhood Untold Until Today. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781483637884. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  40. ^ "Man who escaped from N.J. prison 41 years ago is captured in Portugal". NJ.com. September 26, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  41. ^ Perkins, Margo V. Autobiography As Activism: Three Black Women of the Sixties, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000, p. 5.
  42. ^ Brown, 444–50.
  43. ^ Turner, Wallace (December 14, 1977). "Coast Inquiries Pick Panthers As Target; Murder, Attempted Murders and Financing of Poverty Programs Under Oakland Investigation". New York Times.
  44. ^ "Nose to Nose: Philadelphia confronts a cult". TIME magazine. August 14, 1978. Retrieved May 20, 2007.
  45. ^ a b LEFT-WING EXTREMISM: The Current Threat Prepared for U.S. Department of Energy Office of Safeguards and Security (PDF). Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education: Center for Human Reliability Studies ORISE 01-0439. 2001. p. 1. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  46. ^ National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and the Responses to Terrorism, DHS (March 1, 2008). "Terrorist Organization Profile: May 19 Communist Order". National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and the Responses to Terrorism. Archived from the original on June 7, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  47. ^ CourtTV Crime Library, Ambush: The Brinks Robbery of 1981 Archived February 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  48. ^ a b Shapiro, Michael J (June 17, 2010). The Time of the City: Politics, Philosophy and Genre. Routledge. p. 108. ISBN 9781136977879.
  49. ^ "1985 bombing in Philadelphia still unsettled". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  50. ^ a b Stevens, William K. (May 14, 1985). "Police Drop Bomb on Radicals' Home in Philadelphia". New York Times. Archived from the original on June 12, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  51. ^ Trippett, Frank (May 27, 1985). "It Looks Just Like a War Zone". TIME. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  52. ^ "Suspect Admits Shooting Newton, Police Say". The New York Times. Associated Press. August 27, 1989. Retrieved May 8, 2013. The police said late Friday that an admitted drug dealer had acknowledged killing Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party
  53. ^ "Workers World Nov. 25, 1999: Black Riders show resistance is possible". Workers.org. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  54. ^ "Republicans Push For New Black Panther Hearing". CBS News, July 27, 2010.
  55. ^ "From Black Power to Black Lives Matter". Wearemany.org. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  56. ^ "WAFR - Media and the Movement". mediaandthemovement.unc.edu. Retrieved 25 October 2017.

BibliographyEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Brian Meeks, Radical Caribbean: From Black Power to Abu Bakr.
  • James A. Geschwender. Class, Race, and Worker Insurgency: The League of Revolutionary Black Workers. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
  • Austin, Curtis J. (2006). Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-827-5
  • McLellan, Vin, and Paul Avery. The Voices of Guns: The Definitive and Dramatic Story of the Twenty-two-month Career of the Symbionese Liberation Army. New York: Putnam, 1977.

External linksEdit