Power to the people,
As a cadre of one and a New Afrikan prisoner I consider it my revolutionary duty to stay engaged in the daily political process of the greater mass movement beyond my confines. I recollect that the late North Amerikan anti-imperialist Marilyn Buck once wrote about that social movements should not just consider PPs and POWs [Political Prisoners/Politicized Prisoners and Prisoners Of War] as icons, symbols and objects designated as relics of the past but should seek to avoid alienating them by allowing their active participation in analysis and advisory roles that may be beneficial to new activist/revolutionaries. That is, their political engagement is recommended.
A lot of present trends can usually be traced to past fads. If I were to apply this outlook to a political context of the social movement of the moment I would point out the similarities between the current Black Lives Matter movement and the past founding of the Black Power Movement.
From a analyst perspective both the Black Power movement of the past and the Black Lives Matter movement of the present have their identical roots in one common ground that is academia. Regardless of gender origins the intelligentsia of the Black Power Movement and the Black Lives Matter movement began its political birth amongst student activism in the halls of academic life, community and world. This comparisons can be made between the current co-founders of Black Lives Matter movement Dr. Melina Abdullah of the Pan-African Studies Department, State University California and the other women are Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors-Brignac compared to their predecessors in the Black Power movement Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Touré), Herbert Brown aka H. Rap Brown (later known Jamil Al-Amin), Willie Ricks (Mukasa Dada) and later emerged into and became the identity of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.
By large from the era of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which included Stokely Carmichael, Herbert Brown and Willie Ricks; the latter is credited with coining the slogan Black Power, then on down to Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale who co-founded the Black Panther Party. We are looking at a male collegiate orientated nucleus from which a movement shaped and formed. In this neo millennium age of the Black Lives Matter movement we now have a few female, university and/or social activist based intellectuals at the core of a popular mass cause.
Beyond the opposites in the sexes of the leaders in the Black Power movement being a patriarchal leadership and the Black Lives Matter movement being a matriarchal leadership the 47 year gap between these two black formations 1966 and 2013 respectively has not changed the reality that racial violence was at the center of their origins. For the Student Nonviolent Coordinating committee in June 1966 then-chairman Stokely Carmichael was arrested and imprisoned in a Greenwood, Mississippi jailhouse, apparently the charge for being Black! Fast forward 47 years in 2013 Black Lives Matter movement activist was created after the killing of Trayvon Martin, the cause apparently again was for being Black!
The men in 1966 Black Power movement chose the political statement of Black Power!
The women in 2013 Black Lives Matter movement chose the political statement Black Lives Matter!
In both of these Black revolutionary slogans 47 years apart are the masses of black people’s feelings towards racial violence. In the midst of these two polemics the old vanguard Black Panther Party was founded also in reaction to racial violence such as led to the Watts Rebellion. Whats should be closely reviewed is how racial violence in 1966 and in 2013 served as orchestrated state violence repression against an oppressed people. While the 2013 actions of George Zimmerman must be categorized as a state actor (one acting on behalf of the state identity) as a fake cop (neighborhood watch) it is in no way any different than the lone wolf murder of Medgar Evers (on behalf of the state as a state actor). The actual police force of the past Civil Rights era was televised with the images of fire hoses and police dogs of the infamous “Bull” Connor in Birmingham, Alabama. Meanwhile in the present Black Lives Matter era cell phone streaming and the internet have globalized the viewing of racism inherited in police beatings and executions in Amerika.
As the Black Power movement began in 1966, by 1968 we found:
February 1968: 3 dead students at South Carolina State College shot to death by police.
May 1969: 1 dead student killed in shootout between students and police at North Carolina A&T.
1970, a year later: 2 dead killed at Jackson State by Mississippi highway patrol attacking students.
Finally, two more dead students killed by sheriff’s at Southern University in a student-led occupy movement over racial policies in the university.
The most notorious with media coverage was 4 dead students at Kent State involving the National Guard.
These high profile police/state killings occurred outside of the uncountable murders attributed to Amerikan police forces in black neighborhoods across the country as well as their federal advisors organized military campaign against the Black Panther Party specifically whom deaths are not accounted for here.
These across racial lines examples of police/state killings from the past are important to the present because while there exist no census nationally on police murders in this era of Black Lives Matter movement a short list of racial violence killings would include Freddie Gray, Paul O’Neal, Laquan McDonald, Sylville Smith, Philando Castile, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Jordan Davis, and these are just a few of the ever growing list since Black Lives Matter movement began after Trayvon Martin 2013. This short list does not even include all the children, women, and Latinx individuals and elderly and disabled folks.
In the past both the Black Power movement and particularly the Black Panther Party began as a response to state racial violence from slavery through segregation and Jim Crow which the remaining records that do exist since 1882 to 1968 account for 3,500 black murders. The numbers were gathered due to the anti-lynching movement crusade of a Black woman Ida B. Wells and other organizers. This is very important to today’s movement because Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale formulated a Black vanguard known as the Black Panther Party for Self Defense created in Oakland California in 1966.
In the present it is estimated that the Amerikan police forces kill nearly 2000 or over 2000 per year. Though it is evident race is a factor it is also a reality that other racial groups are killed as well by police/state violence. While we know that Black Lives Matter movement’s main objective is the police violence, since its 2013 organization the movement has lost one of its 1st martyrs while in police custody, Sandra Bland in the state of Texas. This tragic even parallel decades ago when Bobby Hutton was the 1st martyr of the Panther organization in the state of California. The initiates of both the organizers’ deaths have been the same cause stemming from their devotions to fight and combat racism/fascism however the responses to their murders was the hands of the police/state in regards to strategy and action have been different.
BPP Expansion vs. BLM Expansion
The Black Panther Party movement began with Black men at the founding of 1966 and its ending officially in 1982. In that span of time the Black Panther Party had chapters in 68 cities nationwide, satellite networks and members overseas, including England, Africa, Algeria and exiles in Tanzania, France, and Cuba.
The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 with Black women as co-founders; as of 2015 summer Black Lives Matter movement reported to have 26 chapters and its network extends globally with affiliated organizations. As of 2017, this writing, Black Lives Matter movement has not stopped and is at the lead of the new struggle.
The Black Panther Party movement was at the vanguard of revolutionary alliances with organizations such as Youth Against War and Fascism of the Workers World Party, National Committee to Combat Fascism, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Peace and Freedom Party, Students for a Democratic Society, student organizations and underground organizations such as the Weathermen (Weather Underground organization) and Communist Party USA – Che Lumumba Fraction.
The Black Lives Matter movement has largely been able to mass march and protest with a monopoly of organizations supporting Black Lives Matter movement coming off the momentum of the Occupy movement; many college students and working class masses have joined forces with the otherwise urban Black uprising; this has been added to by the huge and well-organized LGBT community pride groups. Another visible organization white people in support of Black Lives Matter. What remains to be rightly unknown is if Black Lives Matter will produce an un-connected offspring totally independent from Black Lives Matter movement underground security force and intelligence apparatus to defend the just cause?
BPP Organization and Outreach to Black Community vs. Black Lives Matter Movement
Almost immediately after its 10 point program the Black Panther Party as a organization began in 1967 an armed demonstration on state capitol of Sacramento, California which evolved into monitoring the police patrols.
While the Black Lives Matter movement has brought national awareness to monitoring the police again via cell phones and their stands against police brutality is the same initiatives that the Black Panther Party began it is not however well known what Black Lives Matter movement’s mass program is? If Black Lives Matter will develop into a political party with a party line?
The Black Panther Party program organized an estimated
10,000 weekly circulations of the party’s newspaper
250,000 average readers
10,000 children breakfast everyday
Food bank, health clinic, protection to the elderly, Panther Clubs and political education
Several national conferences called
A music band, arranged concert and a few books
The Black Lives Matters movement sole focus has been police brutality and while able to galvanize thousand of the masses nationwide to demonstrate, protest, march, layins, sit ins, block highways and commercial centers and radical new civil disobedience against police… one movement as a vanguard in this era has not taken shape into a political party.
While the Black Panther Party organization structure was centralized (democratic centralism), the Black Lives Matter movement is decentralized (horizontally organized).
The Black Panther Party collapsed as a centralized party. The Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Patrisse Cullors-Brignac stated, “a strategic focus is placed on local community building at a decentralized level.” She is also quoted as saying “we understand the local is the national and we must utilize resources as such”.
This writer must add that this seems to coincide with the political cliche: all politics is local.
The best that I can gather of Black Lives Matter movement “the movement is made up of Black folks and allies who are not necessarily a part of the network” – Patrisse Cullors-Brignac. “We focus on local leadership and help build the capacity of those impacted to fight and win victories for their communities” – Patrisse Cullors-Brignac. “We support both international and local action and policy changes that empower the black community” – Patrisse Cullors-Brignac.
Both the Black Panther Party organization in 1966-1982 and the Black Lives Matter movement 2013-present share community based and international solidarity, such as the Panthers with Vietnam and Black Lives Matter with Palestine. The question is will Black Lives Matter organizational structure survive the same repression as the Panthers but even more technologically advanced and militarized?
The Repression Against the BPP Vanguard vs. The Threats of Repression Facing Black Lives Matter Movement
The National Security Agency in Amerika cited the Black Panther Party and its allies as the greatest threat to Amerika’s national security even greater than the Soviet Union to Amerika’s internal security as a domestic threat. The FBI especially targeted the Black Panther Party under its Director J. Edgar Hoover’s massive Counterintelligence Program (COINTEL PRO).
On the other hand the Black Panther Party in Oakland California contain Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, an ex leader of the 5000 strong Slausons, along with Capt. Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt, an ex. Green Beret, aided the Black Panther Party vanguard in both recruitment and training.
In Chicago Chairman Fred Hampton and Mark Clark organized a Rainbow Coalition including Blackstone Rangers, Young Lords, and Students for a Democratic Society.
Before the Black Panther Party forced split initiated by intelligence agencies the Panthers influenced/controlled a mass movement of lumpen gangs, so-called general working class, and college activists. When the war against the Panthers began with the killing of Bobby Hutton, a teenager like Trayvon Martin later down the line, the subsequent events that lead to one of California’s and the nation’s longest shoot outs at that time with the police vs. the Panthers in California lasting hours until the Panthers while fortified in their headquarters ran out of ammunition is primarily responsible for U.S. SWAT teams in Amerika today. Due to the reinforced sandbag fortifications training by Panther Captain Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt.
Governmental agencies raided and attacked the Black Panthers and their allies in a national coordinated repression. Thousands of arrested (and rearrested after bail), hundreds imprisoned and too many killed from California, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Philadelphia and more, outright assassinations in San Quentin Prison and outside the Marin County Courthouse.
From the very beginning of the Black Panther Party organization there was involvement and participation of prisoners, most notably Eldridge (Papa Rage) Cleaver, Alprentice (Bunchy) Carter, Comrade George L. Jackson and the notorious Angola 3 Panthers. Imprisonment and frame ups was a large part of the repression such as the case of Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt, Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Angela Y. Davis and extends into today with Mumia Abu-Jamal.
When comparing this awful history to Black Lives Matter movement so far there has been the murder in police custody of Sandra Bland, the frame up of Jasmine Richards aka Jasmine Abdullah and the 2st Black Lives matter political prisoner Joshua Williams serving 8 years.
The Black Lives Matter movement faces a two pronged threat by the government and actors on behalf of the state.
Number 1. National and local police apparatuses, conservative right-wing political organizations and reactionary media in exploiting the Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas police killings.
Number 2. Foreign intelligence services and domestic intelligence organizations after solidarity with Palestinians cause of divestment campaigns against Israel the Zionist state (apartheid).
Black Lives Matter movement must be educated and organized around combating governmental repression and state infiltration. At best learning from the past the movement can minimize future arrest, casualties and disarray such as the Panther Party and their allies were confronted with by intelligence agencies.
Prisons and Black Lives Matter Movement
As revealed earlier the Black Panther Party members included prisoners from the Angola prison chapter to Comrade George and his Black Guerilla family. Bunchy Carter, Eldridge Cleaver and many Panthers who were in prison, the Panther 21, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Safiya Bukhari and hundreds more. The Panthers had allies and organizations and individuals that contributed to the Panther prisoners’ bail and defenses as well as the newspaper was outreach for prisoners.
In the Black Lives Matter era there is a number of organizations allied against the prison-industrial complex (slavery). One particularly stands out is Stop Mass Incarceration. There are groups such as the National Lawyers Guild, Workers World Party and Communist Party USA that highlight and struggle against capitalist exploitation and state repression. What is missing in Black Lives Matter movement and other allied organizations is a complete consensus against capitalism, a radical left endorsement of socialism, a workers state and the role of prisoners (slaves) in the movement. Such as political education and cadre development. Absent is a program for orientation and conversation between the most oppressed segment of the population, prisoners (slaves), and the intelligentsia behind Black Lives Matter movement and other allied organizations.
Conclusion: For the most part these are shared thoughts, views and ideas around which progressive elements should dialogue and educate to agitate and liberate.
Re-build to win!
Sehu Kessa Saa Tabansi
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee originated in 1960 as a militant grassroots voter registration organization in the South against segregationism. The 1966 fraction became the catalyst for the Black Power movement.
The state assassination at San Quentin was of Comrade George L. Jackson
The state assassination at Marin County Courthouse was of Jonathan Jackson and others.
The split between the Panthers was an East Coast/West Coast split between NY and CA. Later basically disintegration of the central committee authority leadership of Huey P. Newton, Chairman.
Both Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt and Dhoruba Bin Wahad spent over 20 yrs in prison on FBI Counterintelligence frame ups.
Angela Y. Davis came to the Panthers from the Communist Party USA – the Lumumba Fraction.
Patrisse Cullors is also a founder of Dignity and Power now and director of Truth and Re-Investment for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.