Tuesday, February 28, 2006


In this second installment of our "Black Fist Everyday Black History Series", We are going to review the life of our beloved brother and co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bro. Huey P. Newton. Huey P. Newton was a strong, bold, revolutionary Black man with a vision. He stood up and spoke out on behalf of black people, along with the other members of the Black Panthers and taught us that "self-defense" was a gift given to us by the Creator not the white man.

I dig that for sure. Well let's take a trip into the life of Huey P. Newton and see what he went through to get to where he got. And yes, for all of you wanna-be "blog scholars" out there, I meant to phrase it just as it is typed, OK? OK.
Now, let's get into the life & vision of Bro. Huey P. Newton shall we? General Nikki X likes to call this second installment of our series: "Bro. Minister of Defense!"

HUEY P. NEWTON 1942-1989

Huey P. Newton (1942-1989) founded the Afro-American Society and was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, serving as its minister of defense during much of the 1960s. Later he turned to community service for the poor.

Huey P. Newton was born Febuary 17, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana. The youngest of seven children, Huey was named for former governor Huey Pierce Long. The Newton family moved to Oakland, California, in 1945 to take advantage of the job opportunities created by World War II wartime industries. In Oakland the famiuly moved often, and in one house Huey was compelled to sleep in the kitchen. Even though the Newton's were poor and victims of discrimination and segregation, Huey contends that he never felt deprived as a child and that he never went hungry.

Huey attended the Oakland public schools where, he claimed, he was made to feel "uncomfortable and ashamed of being black." He responsed by constantly and consistantly defying authority, which resulted in frequent suspensions. At the age of 14, he was arrested for gun possession and vandalism. In his autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, Newton wrote, "during those long years in the Oakland public schools, I did not have one teacher who taught me anything relevant to my own life and my own experience. Not one instructor ever awoke in me a desire to learn more or to question or explore the worlds of literature, science, and history. All they did was try to rob me of the sense of my own uniqueness and worth, and in the process they nearly killed my urge to inquire."

According to Newton, he did not learn to read well until he had finished high school. "I actually learned how to read--really read more than just 'dog' and 'cat'. which was about all I could do when I left high school--by listening to records of Vincent Price reading great poetry, and then looking up the poems to see how the words looked." In order to prove that high school counselors were wrong in saying he was not college material, Newton attended law at Merritt College intemittently, eventually earning an Associate of Arts degree. He also studied law at Oakland City College and at San Franciso Law School.

Newton claimed he studied law to become a better burglar. He was arrested several times for minor offenses while still a teenager and he supported himself in college by burglarizing homes in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills area and running the "short change" game. In 1964, at age 22, he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 6 months in the Alameda County jail. Newton spent most of his sentence in solitary confinement, including the "soul breaker"--extreme solitary confinement.

While at Oakland City College, Newton had become politically oriented and socially conscious. He joined the Afro-American Association and played a role in getting the first black history course adopted as a part of the college's curriculum. He read the works of Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, and Che Guevara. A child of the ghetto and a victim of discrimination and the "system", Newton was very much aware of the plight of Oakland's African-AMerican community. Realizing that there were few organizations to speak for or represent lower class African-Americans, Newton along with Bobby Seale organized the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in October 1966, with Seale as chairman and Newton as minister of defense. Like a wary panther that would not attack unless attacked, so too was the organization regarded.

Cop-haters since childhood, Newton and Seale decided the police must be stopped from harrassing Oakland's African-American; in other words, to "defend the community against the aggression of the power structure, including the military and the armed might of the police." Newton was familiar with the California penal code and the state's law regarding weapons and was thus able to convince a number of African-Americans of their right to bear arms. Member of the Black Panther Perty for Self-Defense began patrolling the Oakland police. Guns were the essential ingredient on these patrols. Newton and the other Black Panther members observed police procedure, ensured that African-American citizens were not abused, advised African-Americans of their rights, and posted bail for those arrested. In addition to patrolling the police, Newton and Seale were responsible for writing the Black Panther Party Platform and Program, which called for freedom, full employment, decent housing, education, and military exemption for African-Americans. But there was a darker side to the group, described in Former Panther Earl Anthony's book, Spitting in the Winds a party created with the goal to organize America for armed revolution. Moreover, Washington, D.C., intelligence spent many years trying to bring down what they beleived to be "the most violence-proned of all the extremist groups." Huey Newton proved to be as violent as the party he helped to create when he was thrust into the national limelight in October 1967; accused of murdering Oakland police officer John Frey. In September 1968 Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison. In May 1970 the Californai Appeallate Court reversed Newton's conviction and ordered a new trial. After two more trials the State of Californai dropped its case against Newton, citing technicalities including the judge's failure to relay proper instructions to the jury.

After his release from prison Newton overhauled the Black Panther Party, revised its program, and changed its rhetoric. While he had been imprison, party membership had decreased significantly in several cities, and the FBI had started a campaign to disrupt and eventually bring down the Black Panthers. Abandoning its Marxist-Leninist ideology, Newton now concentrated on community survival programs. The Black Panthers sponsors a free breakfast programs for children, sickle-cell anemia tests, free food and shoes, and a school, the Samuel Napier Intercommunal Youth Insitutute. However, as before, the Black Panthers were not without controversy. Funding for several of their programs were raised as the result of the co-operation of drug dealers and prostitution rings.

Newton tried to shed his image as a firebreathing revolutionary, but he continued to have difficulty with the police. In 1974 several assault charges were filed against him, and he was also accused of murdering a 17-year-old prostitute, Kathleen Smith. Newton failed to make his court appearance. His bail was revoked, a bench warrant issued, and his name added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most wanted list. Newton had jumped bail and escaped to Cuba, where he spent 3 years in exile. In Cuba he worked as a machinist and a teacher. He returned home in 1977 to face murder charges because, he said, the climate in the Unites States had changed and he beleived he could get a fair trial. He was acquitted of the murder of Kathleen Smith after two juries were deadlocked.

In addition to organizing the Black Panther Party and serving as its minister of defense, Newton unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968. In 1971, between his second and third trials for the murder of John Frey, he visited China for 10 days, where he met with Premier Chou En-lai and Chang Ch'ing, the wife of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. While there he was offered political asylum. Newton studied for a Ph.D. in history of social consciousness at the University of California in 1978. In 1985 the 43-year-old Newton was arrested for embezzling state and federal funds from the Black Panthers community education and nutrition programs. In 1989 he was convicted of embezzling funds from a school run by the Black Panthers, supposely to support his alcohol and drug addictions. By this time the Panthers had turned to less violent activism. On August 22, 1989, Newton was gunned down by a drug dealer, ironically in the same city streets of Oakland that saw the rise of the Black Panthers 23 years ago. Bill Turque in Newsweek described a sad but appropriate farewell: "A small florist's card, resting with bouquets of red gladiolus's and white dahlias on a chain-link fence near the shooting scene, summed it up: "Huey: for the early years."

Well folks, there you have it, the life story of our beloved Huey P. Newton. What did you think of that? We welcome your comments and thoughts regarding the lifeworks of this strong black man who "co-founded" one of the most powerful, bold, revolutionary Black activism organizations ever to be founded here in the hells of North America. Bro. Huey P. Newton beleived in the "Art of Self-Defense" and he didn't mind showing the whiteman his skills when provoked!

The Black Fist organization will be forever grateful to the Black Panther Party for paving the way and being the strong bold revolutionary Black men and Black women that they were and even today, who they continue to be. They taught us to do for one another, to do for self and to love being Black! And they showed us that police brutality can be dealt with in the streets and that when the pigs come into our neighorhood looking to brutalize and dehumanize us we have a God-giving right to defend ourselves by any means neccessary! And the police can also be can be "patrolled."

The Black Panther Party is to be commended for all of their good works in the Black community and for their teachings of Black Pride, Black Unity, Black Love and of course, "Self-Defense!"
They were one of the first to proudly and boldly raise their "black fist" in the air and shout, "Black Power!!!".....
No matter who was around!




Anonymous said...

"Black Power, Black Fist, Black Nation!"

Seems I've heard that somewhere before. Oh! I remember, it was when my friends and I were downtown and the KKK were having their little rally on the fountain. Except then it was "White Power, White Sword, White Nation"

The wording of the slogans is pretty much the *ONLY* difference between radical racial organizations no matter where in the world you go.

Violence and conflict are now and have always been, the paths of choice for the weakest of minds.

When you elevate your race, sex or religion in your mind THAT is when you become an agent of destruction for all.

I've got a better mantra for you.
United Power, United Hands, United World, United Peace.

General Nikki X said...

Your mantra suggestion sounds great.
Take it over to The Rainbow Push Coalition I'm sure they'll love it.

Thank You For Reading The BLACK FIST Blog!