In 1966 an organization that we would come to know as the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was formed on the streets of Oakland, CA by a group of passionate young African Americans led by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. These young Americans set-forth and became proactive in standing up for the rights of brothers and sisters facing injustices in their neighborhood...particularly against California police brutality; in essence forming a neighborhood watch against police officers and criminals alike.
By 1968, the movement eventually spread throughout the United States. They recruited book smart college kids and street smart "hood" kids and The Party became stronger in numbers. It was the 1960s; a time where African Americans had to "stay in there place"...and in that place, The Black Panther Party would not, could not, and did not stay.
One of their most notable achievements in my opinion, is the free breakfast for children program. Unfortunately it is overshadowed by the vilification of their stance on the Second Amendment aka the right to bear arms. They were simply exercising their rights as per the Constitution of the United States of America, to protect themselves against police brutality, and that my friends, ruffled a lot of powerful feathers. We have to remember that this was the 1960s. The same people that did not want black people to vote were still walking around, breathing air and eating bacon! These are the same people whose parents just a generation earlier didn't want black people to read. J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and he successfully organized an illegal and unjust investigation and infiltration of the The Black Panther Party, eventually framing, imprisoning, corrupting, and even murdering strong leaders.
While the corruption may have killed the movement in the 1970s, the legacy and the cause live on in the nameless, faceless brothers and sisters still fighting the good fight for the rights of minorities in America.
Having attended an awards ceremony honoring black women, I am proud to say that in my lifetime, I've had the chance to bare witness to the amazing Angela Davis. During her acceptance speech, I had to pinch myself as I welled up with tears in my eyes in disbelief that a woman that I have so much respect for and look up to is standing in front of me and speaking to me.
As I've said many times before, I've always had an affinity for those that have come before me and paved a great way for me; and that statement holds true for the members of The Black Panther Party. How fearless of these young brothers and sisters to stand tall for what they believed in.
...And they looked good doing it too! Army fatigues, combat boots! All black everything! The leather jackets, the sunglasses, the turtlenecks, the perfect afros, the berets! C'mon, I wouldn't be Monika if I didn't mention the wardrobe too! :)