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Main > Politics & Religion > The Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party (originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was an African-American organization founded to promote civil rights and self-defense. It was active in the United States from the mid-1960s into the 1970s.

Founded in Oakland, California, by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in October 1966, the organization initially espoused a doctrine calling for armed resistance to societal oppression in the interest of African-American justice. Its objectives and philosophy changed radically during the party's existence. While the organization's leaders passionately espoused socialist doctrine, the party's black nationalist reputation attracted an ideologically diverse membership. Ideological consensus within the party was difficult to achieve. Some members openly disagreed with the views of the leaders.

The group created a Ten-Point Program, a document that called for "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace", as well as exemption from military service for African-American men, among other demands. While firmly grounded in black nationalism and begun as an organization that accepted only African Americans as members, the party changed as it grew to national prominence and became an icon of the counterculture of the 1960s.

The group's political goals were often overshadowed by their confrontational and even militaristic tactics, and by their suspicions of law enforcement agents. The Black Panthers considered them as oppressors to be overcome by a willingness to take up armed self-defense. After party membership started to decline during Huey Newton's 1968 manslaughter trial, the Black Panther Party collapsed in the early 1970s. Some scholars of the movement have alleged that law enforcement officials went to great lengths to discredit and destroy the organization, including assassination.

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