[sixties-l] Panthers and NoI

From: Mark Bunster (mbunster@saturn.vcu.edu)
Date: Tue Jun 13 2000 - 14:29:20 CUT

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    Jeffrey Blankfort wrote:

    > To add to what Art McGee has already put forth, I would remind those who
    > may have forgotten that two aspects of the BPP's existence on the scene
    > have largely been neglected. The first is the transformation that took
    > place in the communities where the Panthers had a presence. In San
    > Francisco and Oakland, for example, they became political role models
    > where none had existed before replacing the glorification of getting
    > into "the life." And they became an inspiration to other non-Anglo
    > communities leading to the founding of organizations like the Brown
    > Berets, the Young Lords, and the I Wor Kuen.
    > Instead of the government-inspired "gang wars" that we have seen since
    > all of these groups were destroyed, we had Brown Berets and Panthers
    > standing together in front of the Alameda Court House and and at BPP
    > rallies. Inside the prisons, prisoners, taking their cues from the
    > outside, began to be politicized and a strong revolutionary message from
    > inside, exemplified but not limited by any means to George Jackson began
    > to be heard. All this represented a major threat to the system that
    > went beyond anything the SDS was capable of, and the government reacted
    > accordingly. A story yet to be written is how the government, through
    > infiltration of drugs into the prisons, stimulated the creation of the
    > present gang-structure which it uses as an excuse for building and
    > maintaining the Corcorans and Pelican Bays.
    > Inernationally, the Panthers became recognized as a powerful and potent
    > voice for black liberation, and were one of the inspirations for the
    > student revolt in France and elsewhere in '68. Mistakes, misjudgements,
    > sure they made them. But why what standard of revolutionary stuggle and
    > successes in this country are their critics measuring them?

    This is an interesting and cogent analysis. I have an open question to hopefully
    inspire historical context discussions:

    In what ways did the rise of the Panthers in the Bay Area mirror the development of
    Nation of Islam influence in eastern communities in the 80s and 90s? In what ways
    were they different? The Panthers appear to have mostly secular roots, although one
    expects they took much from Malcolm's rhetoric during the days he was under Elijah
    Muhammad. But if your analysis is correct, both took an active interest in raising
    up poor neighborhoods through self-control and some kind of vigilante defense
    theory. The specific goals and methods seem pretty different, but both share a
    healthy disrespect for letting established systems address their needs.

    I don't have the knowledge to address this any further, which is why I ask for

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