“You can jail a Revolutionary, but you can’t

jail the Revolution.”

-Fred Hampton

Image Credits: AP

In October of 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The Panthers protected minority communities against the U.S. government and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community-based programs. The party was one of the first U.S. organizations to militantly struggle for ethnic minority and working-class emancipation.

The party’s original purpose was to patrol African American neighbourhoods to protect residents from acts of police brutality. The Panthers eventually developed into a Marxist revolutionary group. By the late 1960s, Panther membership exceeded 2,000, and the organisation operated chapters in several major American cities, soon evolving into an international organisation, with chapters in Japan, England, Germany, etc.

The Panthers distinguished between racist and nonracist whites and allied themselves with progressive members of the latter group. In addition to challenging police brutality, they launched more than 35 Survival Programs and provided community help, such as education, tuberculosis testing, legal aid, transportation assistance, ambulance service, and the manufacture and distribution of clothing to poor people. Of particular note was the Free Breakfast for Children Program that spread to every major American city with a Black Panther Party chapter.