Why was the Black Panthers formed?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

The Black Panther Party was formed in response to the systemic racism and violence faced by Black people in the United States during the 1960s. The founders, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, were deeply influenced by the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the ongoing police brutality and racial injustice that plagued their communities.

The assassination of Malcolm X, a prominent Black nationalist leader, in February 1965 left a profound impact on many individuals, including Newton and Seale. Malcolm X’s advocacy for Black self-defense and his call to end racial oppression resonated deeply with them. They recognized the need for an organized movement that could protect and empower Black communities.

Another significant event that influenced the formation of the Black Panther Party was the killing of Matthew Johnson. Johnson, an unarmed Black teenager, was shot and killed by the San Francisco police in September 1966. This incident, along with numerous other instances of police violence against Black individuals, highlighted the urgent need for a response and a means of self-defense.

In October 1966, Newton and Seale established the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The party sought to challenge police brutality and racial discrimination by actively monitoring police behavior and advocating for the rights and welfare of Black communities.

The Black Panthers believed in self-determination, community empowerment, and armed self-defense. They organized patrols to monitor police activities and protect Black neighborhoods from police violence. They also provided free breakfast programs, medical clinics, and educational initiatives to address the poverty and lack of resources faced by many Black communities.

The formation of the Black Panther Party was a direct response to the oppressive conditions faced by Black people in America. It aimed to confront the systemic racism and violence that had been perpetuated for centuries, while also providing essential services and support to uplift the Black community.

It is important to note that the Black Panther Party’s formation and activities faced intense scrutiny and opposition from the government and law enforcement agencies. The FBI, under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, targeted the party through the covert counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO, which sought to disrupt and dismantle Black activist groups.

The Black Panthers were formed in response to the ongoing racial injustice, police brutality, and lack of resources experienced by Black communities. They aimed to challenge systemic racism, protect their communities, and provide essential services to uplift the Black community. Their legacy continues to inspire and inform activism against racial inequality.