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Fred Hampton

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The Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party was a political organization manifested from the vision of Huey P. Newton, who was the seventh son of a Louisiana family transplanted to Oakland, California. In the wake of the assassination of black leader Malcolm X in October 1966, and at the height of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Newton gathered a few of his longtime friends, including Bobby Seale and David Hilliard, and developed a skeletal outline for this organization. It was named, originally, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The black panther was used as the symbol because it was a powerful image, one that had been used effectively by the short­lived voting rights group The Lowndes County (Alabama) Freedom Organization.

Accusing the government of brutalizing poor black communities and claiming the right to arm themselves in self-defense, The Black Panther Party's ideals and activities were so radical, it was at one time assailed by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States". Meanwhile, the rank-and-file members and thousands of volunteers quietly laid the groundwork for social programs that have become national standards today. They provided nutritious breakfasts for school children who usually went to school hungry, groceries for poor families, free medical care, after-school and summer-school programs teaching black history. They also registered thousands of black voters across the country.

They were committed to changing the system that gave rise to racism and oppression, putting control back into the hands of the people, and making it clear that they had no intention of being dominated by white scoiety. The Black Panther Party's Ten Point Platform is still relevant today, citing their commitment to social and economic justice for the black community.

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