Whether you view them as revolutionists that advocated for civil rights by any m eans necessary or violent opportunists

that waged a war with law enforcement, th e Black Panther Party had a profound impact on the black power movement and poli tics of the 1960s and 70s, and have come to embody the most radical display of b lacks uniting together for the goals of equality, justice and freedom. The Black Panther Party was created out of frustration with the nonviolent appro ach of the civil rights movement. Inspired by the ideas of Malcolm X (later in h is life) and Karl Marx, in 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale organized the Bl ack Panther Party for self-defense with the intent of ending all forms of oppres sion of blacks through the option of revolution. Known for being openly armed in uniforms of black berets and leather jackets, th e Panthers were more than just political rallies and demonstrations. They also s ought to address the social ills faced by impoverished black communities through what they called, “survival programs.” This included their most noted program, Free Breakfast for Children, which is estimated to have fed over 10,000 children eve ry day before they went to school within a year of the program’s establishment. Ot her community initiatives included free medical clinics, lessons on self-defense and first aid, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and classes on politics and econ omics. The party adhered to what is known as the ten-point program, which stated: –We want freedom. –We want full employment for our people. –We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our black and oppressed commu nities. –We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings. –We want decent education for our people… –We want completely free health care for all black and oppressed people –We want an immediate end to police brutality… –We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression –We want freedom for all black and oppressed peple now held in U.S. federal, state , county, city and military prisons and jails… –We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and people’s comm unity control of modern technology. When then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover put out the word that the Panthers repres ented the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country,” the party becam e one of the main targets of the FBI’s special counter-intelligence program called COINTELPRO, which was used to investigate “radical” national political groups. By 1 977, a combination of FBI activities and internal conflict led to the demise of the party. Here is a look at some of the dynamic and influential members of the Black Panth er Party. Huey P. Newton "huey p newton"

Originally from Louisiana, Newton was a student at Merritt College in Oakland wh ere he became involved in politics in the Bay Area. He also joined the Afro-Amer ican Association and became a member of Phi beta Sigma Fraternity. He was a fan of the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Mao Zedong a nd Che Guevara. It was during his time at Merritt that he met and befriended fel low Merritt student Bobby Seale, with whom he created the Black Panther Party fo r Self Defense. Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the death of John Frey, an Oa kland police officer who stopped Newton on the morning of October 1967 in an att empt to disarm and discourage the Panther patrols. A shootout ensued that killed Frey and wounded Newton and a another Oakland police officer. But after two mis trials, the case against Newton was dropped. He was also charged with the murder of a 17-year-old prostitute in 1974. Newton fled to Cuba to avoid prosecution b ut returned to the states in 1977 to stand trial. He was acquitted of assault in 1978 but convicted on two counts of firearm possession. Newton was killed at the age of 47 in August 1989 by a Black Guerrilla Family me mber, a prison gang that followed Marxist revolutionary idealism. Bobby Seale "Bobby Seale" As the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Seale was arrested multiple times, which included his involvement at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, a co nspiracy to incite riots in Chicago in 1969 and for the murder of a Black Panthe r suspected of being a police informant. Seale authored a book in 1968 titled Seize The Time: The Story of the Black Pant her Party and Huey P. Newton. After he was released from prison in 1972, Seale f ound that the party had split into two fractions, one supporting him and Newton, and the other supporting exiled former Party leader Eldridge Cleaver. Seale ran for mayor of Oakland in 1973 but lost to John Reading. Today, Seale speaks about his days as a Black Panther and is an advocate for civ il rights and social change. Since 2002, he has been assisting Reach!, a group t he focuses on youth education programs. He has also taught black studies at Temp le University. Stokely Carmichael "stokely carmichael" Carmichael is best remembered as the man who coined the term “Black Power” but his i deals often left him at odds with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Comittee [SNCC], for which, he became Chairman in 1966, and the Black Panthers. After being ousted from the SNCC in 1967, Carmichael joined the panthers and ser ved as the Honorary Prime Minister. But he didn’t remain with the party long becau se he opposed Huey’s idea of working with whites. Carmichael left for Guinea where he remained and died in 1998. Eldridge Cleaver "Eldridge Cleaver" Cleaver was already making a name for himself before he joined the Panthers in 1 966. In 1957, he was imprisoned for assault with intent to kill and was paroled

in 1966. Cleaver assumed the position of s. In 1968, he ran for U.S. President on ty; that same year, he was involved in a ted in the death of fellow panther Bobby

minister of information for the Panther the ticket of the Peace and Freedom Par shootout with Oakland police that resul Hutton. jumped bail and fled the U.S. w Cuba and France. During his tim with each other (which was beli necessity of armed struggle as

When he was faced with criminal charges, Cleaver ith wife Kathleen and lived in exile in Algeria, e away, Cleaver and Huey Newton had a fallen out eved to have been initiated by the FBI) over the a response to government actions.

After he returned to the U.S. in 1975, he underwent a religious and political tr ansformation that included becoming a republican in the 1980s. Cleaver died in M ay 1998. Bobby Hutton "bobby hutton" At 16-years-old, Hutton was one of the six original members of the Black Panther Party acting as treasurer. Five months after the party’s formation, Hutton and Se ale led 24 panthers in a march on the state capitol in Sacramento to protest a n ew gun bill. As a result, Hutton and his fellow panthers were all arrested. But on April 6, 1968, Hutton, along with Eldridge Cleaver and six other panther members, were ambushed by Oakland police. Hutton was shot more than twelve times despite having already surrendered and stripping down to his underwear to prove that he was unarmed. His funeral was attended bu over 2,000 people in Berkeley, Calif. on April 12, 1968. Fred Hampton "Fred Hampton" Hampton founded and led the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party when he w as just 20-years-old. He was known as a tireless developer of community service programs, such as a free breakfast for children program and free medical service s clinic. But in December 1969, Hampton was murdered in a police raid; he was on ly 21. In 1990, “Fred Hampton Day” was declared in Chicago H. Rap Brown "H rap brown" Brown served as the Panthers’ minister of justice in 1968 and received national at tention due to his use of violent rhetoric. In 1970, he was arrested for attempt ed armed robbery and sentenced to five years in prison. After his release, he co nverted to the Muslim religion and lived a quiet life until March 2000 when he w as arrested for murder. David Hillard "david hillard" As one of the earlier members of the Panther Party, Hillard served as the chief of staff but took over command of the party when Huey Newton was arrested in Sep tember 1968. In December 1969, Hillard was arrested and charged with threatening the life of President Richard Nixon when he was accused of saying at a meeting, “we will kill Nixon.” He was sentenced to prison for six months.

Hillard was involved in the shootout with Oakland police that killed Bobby Hutto n, for which, he was charged with shooting at police, found guilty in 1971 and r eceived a one to ten year prison term. He is the author of the book, This Side of Glory, a personal narrative and an ey ewitness account of the Black Panthers. Hillard is known as a vibrant speaker on racial divisions in America today. Geronimo Pratt "geronimo pratt" After completing two combat tours in Vietnam for the Army, Pratt joined the Blac k Panthers’ Los Angeles chapter and served as the Deputy Defense Minister. In 1970, Pratt was arrested and charged with the December 1968 armed robbery and murder of Caroline Olsen, a Los Angeles schoolteacher. Despite Pratt having an alibi that he was attending a Black Panther meeting in Oakland at the time of th e murder, none of the Panthers stepped forward to coraborate his story, and witn esses pointed to him as the killer. Pratt was arrested and charged with murder a nd kidnapping. After serving 27 years in prison, Pratt’s murder conviction was overturned (with t he help of his attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.) and he was released from jail in June 1997. Fredericka Newton "fredericka newton" Fredrika Newton joined the Black Panther Party as a youth member in 1969 and met Huey the following year. They married eleven years later. They remained married until Huey’s death in 1989. After his death, Fredrika established the Huey P. New ton Foundation, a non-profit educational organization. She serves as the foundat ion’s president and handles the community-based programs, which include literacy, voter outreach and health-related components. In addition, she also coordinates the Black Panther Legacy Tour in Oakland. Assata Shakur "assata shakur" Shakur joined the Panthers at the age of 23 and became the leading member of the Harlem branch. Her primary task was coordinating a school breakfast program. Bu t Shakur soon left the party complaining of sexist behavior on the part of male members and the party’s alleged lack of focus on black history. Elaine Brown "elaine brown" Brown assumed the role as the first chairwoman for the party from 1974 until 197 7 in the absence of Huey Newton. Under her leadership, she focused on electoral politics and community service, and also developed the Panther’s Liberation School . But she stepped from her role less than a year after Huey Newton’s return from C uba, and soon after left the party because of the sexism and patriarchy of the p arty. Her book, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story, is regarded as one of the best books about the Panthers. In it, she discusses the experience of being a w oman in the party and during the Black Power movement, of which she wrote, “a woma n in the Black Power movement was considered, at best, irrelevant…”

Angela Davis "angela davis" Davis was associated with a few activist organizations when she was involved in the civil rights struggle, including the SNCC and the Black Panthers. But she ga ined national attention when she was put on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list for alle gedly planning and providing weapons for the escape of George Jackson and other members of the Soledad Brothers; she was acquitted in 1972. Davis has written ma ny books, including Angela Davis: An Autobiography. Today, she teaches in the H istory of Consciousness department at the University of California, Santa Cruz a nd speaks regularly on prisoner rights. Kathleen Cleaver "Kathleen Cleaver" The former wife of Eldridge Cleaver originally became involved in the civil righ ts movement when she joined the New York chapter of the SNCC in 1966. The follow ing year, after meeting Eldridge (and later marrying him), she relocated to San Francisco and joined the Black Panther Party. She served as the party’s national c ommunications secretary and organized the “Free Huey” campaign. Kathleen struggled with Eldridge’s exile in the 1970s and later divorced him in 19 87. Currently, she teaches law at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.