The Black Panther Party
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This paper will discuss the historical foundations of two well known citizens group. This paper will primarily focus on two well known organizations which are the Ku Klux Khan and the Black Panther Party. Aside from discussing the historical foundations of these two groups, this paper will explain, compare, summarize and define the activites of each organization while highlighting the group’s motivation and actions.
The Black Panther Party was a black nationalist organization in founded in the United States during the turbulent month of October in the year 1966 by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Robert Aoki. From its inception its members rapidly grew in size because of the aims and goals advocated by the organization. Together with its Ten-Point Program and its increasing members, it represented an aspect of countercullture revolution of the 1960’s . Its central aims called for the greater autonomy for black Americans, end of racism and racial segregation against blacks and to fully combat the injustices of racism inside the American society. Because of these central aims, the members of the Black Panther Party views and regards police agents and law enforcements officers as racists and oppresors of blacks in the community. The party also advocated violence and armed resistance if non violent means are not effective in getting these aims.
At first, the three founders and members of this organization took part in protest and civil actions against the racial treatments of blacks in American society. Some of the future members of this organization took part in protest and rallies against the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights Movement. As the years pass and as the non violent doctrine advocated by Martin Luther King Jr. was not given attention by the federal government, the group began to establish a organization that has a different means of achieving the same aim which is the equality between blacks and whites.
Central to their mentality and consciousness are ideas, concepts and perspectives that can be compared to the black nationalism being preached by Malcolm X. It was also stated that the organization was instilled with various teachings of Marxism and Maoism although there is an ongoing debate among scholars on the acceptance of the whole organization of these political models.
Throughout its lifespan, the organization pushed and publicize its most important document called the Ten Point Program. This document was a list of the party’s demand for the advancement of the welfare and survival of the black people. This document also called for violent or armed means and actions if the federal government or other white supremacist groups discriminate black individuals. The Ten Point Program was widely distributed throughout the black community to foster awareness, education and recruitment.
Aside from its Ten Point Program, the party was also aimed at stopping the rampant racism and abuse perpetrated by the members of the local police departments. During this years the black community perceived the local police departments as extensions of racist attitudes. Policemen frequently abused, hurt and arrest blacks because of silly and illogical reasons. To protect the common black, the Black Panther Movement organized neighborhood watch and kept an eye on patrolling policemen on their neighborhood, ready to defend any black who will be abused by the policemen. This tactic was often effective that the number of police abuse against blacks lowered considerably since policemen feared the reprisals that will be made by the organization.
The party was effective in propagating their aims but it was disbanded due to different factors. The first factor that can be considered was the involvement of the FBI on the actions and internal structure of the group. FBI agents entered the organization to act as agent provocateur. This FBI operation can be clearly seen in the killing and torture of Black Panther member Alex Rackley because of a tip of an FBI informant that he was an agent of the local police department. Aside from the FBI, local police departments also weakened the organization by infiltrating its ranks with agents and police informers earning the trust and loyalty of the organization due to frequent association and involvement. Another factor that can be considered was the internal division and strife that was brewing inside the organization.
Different factions and groups within the party became dissatisfied and disappointed due to the lack of results with regards to the cause they are fighting while others quarreled with one another on the aims, theories and models that can be applied and followed by the organization. One of the last reasons why the organization fell apart was due to the triumph of the integrationist views of civil rights groups lead by Dr. King Jr. due to the efforts of the federal government to integrate both white and black societies, the Black Panther movement lost its true aim rendering it ineffective.
Another citizen’s organization is the group named Ku Klux Khan that was also established in the United States. The name Ku Klux Khan refer to three separate organizations in the United States. The first Ku Klux Khan or simply KKK was established in the year 1860 after the end of the civil war. Another group calling itself KKK later emerged during the 1920’s and a third group of KKK refer to the different and scattered organizations in the United States who advocates racism and hatred for non whites. As a point of discussion this paper will focus on the workings and aims of the second group of KKK.
The second KKK was founded by William Joseph Simmons in 1915. this organization borrowed the workings, structure, rituals and customs of the first KKK. This organization was on a nationwide scope and publicly devoted its time and resources to uplift and maintain the dominance of the white people in relation to bootleggers, Jews, blacks, Catholics and native Indians. The KKK also boasted that almost all politicians and government employees were member of this organization. The KKK also preached racial purification and removing foreign or substandard elements that are present in the American society during those times. This organization also favored the prohibition since for them, drinking was Un-American and this negative practice was brought by immigrants and non white people.
The KKK attracted large number of recruits due to its mystery and thrill of belonging to that organization. The KKK organized cross burnings with complete costumes that consist of a white hood and a robe. People were also attracted due to the intricacy of the initiation rites before entering the organization. The KKK also flaunted that many of federal and state officials are member of this organization. Some of the names that were dragged by the KKK were Harry Truman, Warren Harding, and Edward Jackson although these people frequently denied if asked about their involvement in the KKK. The KKK was also influential in electing and replacing government officials that were recognized as pro blacks. The Klan secretly supported and managed to elect its members on the Board of Trustees of Anaheim, California and nine out of the ten members of the local police force were members of the Klan. In 1923, the KKK was instrumental in forcing elected government officials out of office in Williamson, Illinois where they installed their own unelected members as leaders of the area. During this event the Khan also conducted house to house searches to find illegal liquors and bootleg alcohol. Throughout the American South and Midwest, members of the KKK committed illegal acts like lynching, fire bombing, whipping and threatening non whites or white who supports the black community.
Like the Black Panther Movement, the KKK also lost its popularity due to the negative publicity that was shed on the group. One major setback for the organization was the trial and conviction of David Stephenson, Grand Dragon of Indiana who kidnapped, raped and mutilate Madge Oberholtzer in 1925. Since the KKK promoted supremacy and morality in the face of black power, this scandal permanently damaged the image of the KKK. The Ku Klux Khan was also cast in a negative light because of some of its members and leaders were involved in the 1943 Detroit Race Riot and had pro Nazi leanings. In 1944, the IRS attempted to recover $685,000 in back taxes from the organization. This became the last straw and finally in 1944, the leader James Colescott dissolved the Ku Klux Khan.
When these two groups are closely examined we can evidently see the motivation and aims that were instilled in the consciousness o the members of the two groups mentioned. The foremost motivation was the issue on race and racism. The first group (Black Panther) conducted neighborhood watch and organized themselves to protect the black community from abuses, oppressions and racism that is afflicted to them by dominant white groups while the KKK carry out cross burning, fire bombing, lynching and intimidation in order to eradicate non white people. The two groups collectively advocates violence and armed resistance in order to push and advocate their aims.
Although separated by time, these two groups used violence, firearms and purposely killing or hurting people while defending their opinions and viewpoints. On looking at these two citizen group we can formulate a hypothesis that the two groups can be classified as “plainclothes policemen” using the loose meaning of the term since they protect the local community and punishes individuals and groups that commits crime and other illegal activities, in the case of the Black Panther it was against racism and for the KKK it was the opposition to bootleg liquor and violation of the Prohibition. But since these “plainclothes policemen do not have uniforms, identifying marks and equipments, these individuals are prone to abuse the power and influence that they hold.
As a conclusion therefore, these two organizations are extensions of the police organization in an informal way. These two organizations were established and set up because its founders and members found out that the local police cannot provide them with proper protection against harmful cultures and elements. These organizations were launched because both groups recognized that the local police is not addressing their grievances and fears. They felt that there was no security and safety in the society that they are living in. Due to these main factors, they banded together to from these organizations with the lofty aim of protecting their welfare and wellbeing.