The Black Panther Party

98284807.jpg
Huey P. Newton, 1970. Getty Images

The Black Panther Party was established in 1966 by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and David Hilliard in Oakland, Ca. The three college students created the organization to provide protection to African-Americans against police brutality. 

Within its first few years, the group gained national and international prominence for actions that were considered radical by critics and lauded by supporters. 

As a result, of its revolutionary tactics several members of the  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) joined the Black Panther Party to create the Black Power Movement.

 

1966

 October:

  •  Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and David Hilliard establish the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense in Oakland, Ca.

December:

  • Bobby Hutton, a 16-year-old, is the first male recruit of the Black Panther Party.

1967

January:

  • The Black Panther Party establishes its first headquarters—a storefront on Grove Street in Oakland, Ca.
  • Members Kenny Freeman and Roy Ballard establish the Black Panther Party of Northern California in San Francisco.

February:

  • Writer Eldridge Cleaver joins the Party.
  • Members of the Black Panther Party are attacked by law enforcement outside the office of Ramparts magazine while escorting Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X.

 

April:

  •  BPP publishes the first issue of Black Panther Party: Black Community News Service. This publication will become the organization's official news publication.

May:

  • H. Rap Brown becomes national chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Stokely Carmichael preceded Brown in this role.
  • An estimated 26 armed BPP members are arrested in Sacramento after invading the state legislature hearing on gun-control laws.

1968

January:

  • The Southern California branch of the BPP is established by Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter. Carter was also named Deputy Minister of Defense by Newton.
  • A rally is held for the “Oakland Seven,” an anti-war protest group who were arrested in October of 1967 during the “Stop the Draft Week” protest. 

    February:

    • A coalition between the BPP and SNCC is established at a rally honoring Newton.

    March:

    • Cleaver’s Soul on Ice is published. It is a collection of essays written by Cleaver when he was incarcerated.
    • Arthur Carter is killed by government officials. Carter becomes the first member of the BPP to be murdered.

    April:

    • The BPP opens an office in New York City.
    • Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis.
    • Bobby Hutton, the BPP’s first recruit as well as the organization’s national treasurer is murdered by Oakland law enforcement officials.

    June: 

    • The alliance formed between SNCC and the BPP ends. As a result, Carmichael is forced to leave SNCC and joins the BPP.

    August:

    • From August 25 to August 29, the BPP participates in anti-War rioting in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention.

    September:

    • Newton is found guilty of voluntary manslaughter of an Oakland, police officer. He is sentenced to two to fifteen years in prison. David Hilliard assumes control of the BPP in Newton’s absence. Newton’s conviction is later appealed and reversed.

    November:

    • The BPP develops several initiatives such as a free breakfast program for low-income children.

    1969

    January:

    • BPP rolls out its free breakfast program for children at St. Augustine’s Church in Oakland. Other programs follow in areas throughout California as well as New York City.

      March:

      • Following a speech delivered by Kathleen Cleaver, students at Mills College takeover Robert J. Werk’s office. The college’s president is held prisoner for several hours as students demand minority involvement in student affairs.
      • Bobby Seale is indicted and charged with organizing the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

      April:

      • Carmichael relocates to Guinea with his wife, Mariam Makeba.

      June:

      • J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI declares “…the Black Panther Party, without question, represents the greatest threat to internal security of the country." He pledges that 1969 would be the last year of the Party's existence.
      • Carmichael leaves the BPP citing political differences with other prominent members.

      August:

      • Newton wins an appeal, and he is released from prison.
      • Seale is arrested in Berkeley. He is charged with organizing the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots as well as the murder of a BPP member named Alex Rackley.

        December:

        • BPP leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are found dead in a Chicago apartment following a police raid.

        1970

        March:

        • Seale’s book, Seize the Time: The Story of the BPP and Huey Newton is published.

        October:

        • Charges against Seale and other members of the Chicago 8 are dropped.

        1971

        February:

        • Citing differing points of view on how the BPP should be run, Cleaver expels Newton and Hilliard.

        1972

        • A collection of essays and speeches, To Die for the People, by Huey P. Newton is published.
        • Newton declares that the BPP is “putting down the gun” and working within the law to help the African-American community progress. Newton also tries to persuade all African-Americans, poor people, and progressive Americans to support Representative Shirley Chisolm for the presidential nomination.

        1973

        March:

        • Newton publishes his autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide.

        April:

        • Elaine Brown runs for the Oakland City Council while Bobby Seale runs for mayor of Oakland.

        1974

        August:

        • Attempting to avoid jail time, Newton flees to Cuba following two assault charges.
        • Elaine Brown assumes administrative roles of BPP.

        1989

        August: Newton is killed in West Oakland.