“To Determine the Destiny of Our Black Community”
"In 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in Oakland, California, taking their identifying symbol from an earlier all-black voting rights group in Alabama, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. Two years later, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panthers “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” Created, in Newton’s words, “to serve the needs of the oppressed people in our communities and defend them against their oppressors,” the Panthers patrolled black areas of Oakland with visible, loaded firearms—at the time in accordance with the law—to monitor police actions involving blacks. The organization spread throughout Northern California in the form of small neighborhood groups. They came to national prominence in May 1967, when they arrived armed at the California State legislature in Sacramento to protest a bill banning loaded guns in public places. In October 1967, Newton was wounded in a gun battle with police and charged with killing an officer. His three-year incarceration became a cause célèbre for many young African Americans, and chapters of the Party rapidly opened throughout the country. The Panthers initiated community social programs, such as free breakfasts for children, issued a newspaper, and trained recruits with guns, lawbooks, and texts advocating world revolution. In the following years, police and FBI agents arrested more than 2,000 members in raids on Panther offices that resulted in a number of deaths. Although the Panthers became involved in electoral politics in the 1970s, the Party died out by the end of the decade due to repression and internal strife. The following 10-Point Platform and Program, culminating with the opening paragraphs of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, was issued in October 1966."