Oakland Historical Marker Commemorating the Organization of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense
Backstory and Context
Originally called The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, California, in November of 1966, by Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, Elbert Howard, Reggie Forte, Bobby Hutton, and Sherman Forte, as a sort of militia for the fight against civil rights. They believed that self-defense and mass organizing was the best way to tackle the problem of equality and civil justice the black community had.
In November of 1966, Huey Lewis, Bobby Seale, Elbert Howard, Reggie Forte, Sherman Forte, and Bobby Hutton came together in Oakland, California, to form the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, later known only as the Black Panther Party, changing the face of civil rights forever. Pulling from Malcolm X's philosophies, the Black Panther Party started with a strong sense of militant force, believing that self-defense, organization of mass protests, and resistance, would set African Americans equally free. In October 1967, Huey Newton was arrested for killing an Oakland police officer and his fellow Panthers initiated the "free Huey" movement. This gave them notoriety and spread the word of their organization nationwide, creating more Black Panther chapters. As the Black Panthers grew, they became known for supporting free health clinics, free breakfast programs for school children, and a variety of other community programs. They also provided support for African American men who had concerns about the draft during the Vietnam Era and spoke about the need to provide economic support for Black communities.
At the height of their fame, The Black Panther Party had only a few thousand official members owing to the rigorous vetting process and time-consuming training and educational programs. However, the Black Panthers had a much more significant impact on history than their relatively small membership thanks to the media attention they received, their outspoken opponents, and the many supporters of their programs that extended into dozens of communities.
Black Panther History Marker. Tactical Magic. Accessed April 23, 2017. http://www.tacticalmagic.org/CTM/project%20pages/BPP.htm.
Brown, Camille. Black Panther Traffic Light. Street Stories Oakland. Accessed April 23, 2017. http://www.streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/57.
Abcarian, Robin. Decades before Black Lives Matter, there were the Black Panthers in Oakland. LA Times. December 02, 2016. Accessed April 23, 2017. http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-black-panthers-20161202-story.html.