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The Black Panther Party: Rise and Influence

The era of African-American civil rights was characterized by the emergence of different social movements in the United States of America (Murch, 2010). The primary objective of these organizations was to end racial segregation and discrimination against the black community. In addition, the groups were fighting to secure the legal recognition and protection of rights as was stipulated in the constitution. The Black Panther Party was one of the social movements that shaped the political agenda at the time.

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In this paper, the author will analyze various aspects related to the Black Panther Party. The discussion will include the group’s militant agenda, its depiction, and overall influence during the era of the civil rights movements. The factors that drew new members to the organization will also be analyzed. In spite of its association with violence, the Black Panther Party continued to attract new members from various segments of the population. In addition, it had significant impacts on civil rights movements at the time.

The Black Panthers

The Black Panther was an African-American militant organization operating in the United States of America. It was formed in 1966. It was operating from Oakland, California. Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale were the men behind the movement (Alkebulan, 2012). Initially, the organization was referred to as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The founders of the revolutionary group believed that serious steps needed to be taken to check the actions of the oppressors. They regarded the non-violent campaigns of Martin Luther King as inadequate. The peaceful assemblies advocated for by Martin Luther were not enough to secure the rights of the African-American community. As a result, the party leaders called for an armed liberation struggle.

Members of the group carried weapons publicly. They were willing to use the weapons to defend the rights of the black citizens (Dr. Huey P. Foundation, 2010). In 1967, for example, the group marched to the California state capital with rifles. In addition, the Panthers conducted armed patrols to monitor law enforcement officers and deter acts of brutality.

The Black Panther and its Militant Agenda

Members of the party subscribed to four primary militant agendas (Curtis, 2008). They included equality in education, employment, housing, and civil rights. To achieve their goals, the revolutionary party developed a ten point program. The plan was availed to the public on May 15, 1967 (Murch, 2010). Leaders of the party made the move after the Sacramento action. The clarity of the agenda is one of the factors behind the party’s appeal to the black population. The points in the agenda are highlighted below:


The organization wanted the power to determine the destiny of African-Americans and other oppressed communities (Dr. Huey P. Foundation, 2010).

Full Employment

It was another point in the party’s agenda. The agitators demanded for employment and income for all. The aim was to help them cater for their daily needs (Curtis, 2008).

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End of Robbery against the Black Community by the Whites

The Panthers called for the payment of forty acres of land and two mules, the compensation promised to ex-slaves (Alkebulan, 2012). The reward was to be paid during the reconstruction period.

Decent and Comfortable Housing

The land paid was to be turned into cooperatives. The reason behind this was to enable the citizens to build their own shelters (Curtis, 2008).

Education for the Black People

The party wanted members of the African-American community to be equipped with knowledge about their history and position in the society (Dr. Huey P. Foundation, 2010).

Free Healthcare

The citizens needed health facilities with proper medical programs (Curtis, 2008).

Police Brutality

The Panthers demanded for an end to the harassment and oppression meted out against all minority groups (Curtis, 2008).

A Stop to all Wars of Aggression

The party considered the ruling circle to be the major cause of all the conflicts witnessed in the society (Murch, 2010). As a result, they requested for the leaders to act accordingly to promote peace.

Freedom for all Political Detainees

The organization called for African-American offenders to be tried by juries form the black community as stated in the constitution (Alkebulan, 2012).

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The Panthers demanded for the minority groups to be granted some level of control in the modern industry (Curtis, 2008).

Depiction of the Black Panther and its Influence

The Panthers were viewed as a group of anti-white and ultra-leftist radicals (Alkebulan, 2012). The reason is because their actions were seen to target the white population. However, the party’s founders viewed the organization as one that fought for equality and an end to discrimination. According to the party’s ideologies, not all white citizens were considered to be enemies of the black community. The activities of the Panthers targeted only the oppressors (Murch, 2010).

The perceived oppressors included the ruling class, law enforcement officers, and the high ranking government bureaucrats. Newton stressed that the Black Panther did not hate white people (Dr. Huey P. Foundation, 2010). On the contrary, party members were opposed to the tormenters. As a result, they only hated them if they happened to be tyrants. It appears that the justifications provided by the founders were convincing to the masses. It is perhaps one of the reasons why the part continued to appeal to many people.

Factors that Drew Recruits to the Black Panther Party

In spite of their penchant for violence, the Panthers continued to draw more recruits as time went by. The activities of the party were spread nationally and internationally by the media (Murch, 2010). As a result, the organization secured more allies, recruits, and money. In addition, the party held rallies, which influenced people to apply for membership. During the public meetings, speakers called for the black citizens to join and help investigate suspicious deaths resulting from police brutality (Curtis, 2008). New recruits cited diverse reasons for joining the party. The justifications included the guns, patrols, uniforms, and the ten point plan.

Overall Influence of the Black Panther on Civil Rights Movements

The impacts of the Black Panther Party went beyond the borders of the United States of America (Curtis, 2008). Various minority groups in different countries, such as Australia, England, Israel, Bermuda, and India, formed their own organizations based on the party’s philosophy. Black Beret Cadre, for example, adopted the Panthers’ signature. In addition, the California group influenced the political development of non-black liberation movements across the United States of America (Dr. Huey P. Foundation, 2010). Consequently, the organization inspired a global awakening on the need for freedom. Its appeal went beyond the borders of California and the U.S.


The Black Panther Party was a highly active socialist organization in the United States of America. The influence of the movement persisted in spite of the fact that it was viewed as a violent group. It operated from 1966 to 1982. The group was based on diverse ideologies, such as black nationalism, anti-racism, and Maoism. During its existence, it managed to develop a series of programs that helped the African-American citizens. In spite of the fact that the era of civil rights was marked by peaceful protests, the Panther movement considered violence as the only channel of achieving the desired rights.


Alkebulan, P. (2012). Survival pending revolution: The history of the Black Panther Party. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. Web.

Curtis, A. (2008). Up against the wall: Violence in the making and unmaking of the Black Panther Party. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. Web.

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Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation. (2010). Black Panther Party: Service to the people programs. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. Web.

Murch, D. (2010). Living for the city migration, education, and the rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Web.

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