Huey Newton and Bobby Seale wanted to organize, locally, to resist police brutality in their Oakland communities. But they needed a method and means. They needed a strategy, something that would work in the Black ghettoes, something that would be effective to combat the all-out racist onslaught of police forces like in Watts where officers on the force called their nightsticks “nigger-knockers.” They needed to catalyze locals, particularly those who ran the streets, the “brothers on the block, the unemployed black men seen on every street of the ghetto, the black underclass. These were the people who faced the brutality of the expanding urban police departments.” It proved challenging. Meanwhile there was police brutality. And more police brutality. Their frustrations mounted. Then, after a riot, new possibilities began to emerge.
I am just starting in on this fascinating text, a thoroughgoing academic analysis of the Black Panther Movement, situated in its cultural context. I’ll be posting quotes and thoughts as I go, and I welcome anyone else to read along with me. The Black Panther Party was formed in a cultural and political milieu in which the Civil Rights Movement had come up to its limits. Whites would only allow so much. And police brutality was relentless and cruel.