These photographs were taken in California in 1969, when The Black Panther Party was being heavily targeted by the police and the FBI. The Panthers emerged from the Black Power Movement in 1966. Founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, they formed an organization of militant blacks committed to improving social conditions and instilling racial pride in their communities.
Inspired by Malcolm X and influenced by Mao Zedong and Che Guevara, the Black Panther Party aimed to protect communities through self-defense and to end racism and police brutality. They denounced the Civil Rights Movement and urged blacks to engage in armed confrontation with the police in order to accelerate the revolutionary struggle. Arguing that only violent revolution could eliminate racism and oppression, they alarmed white Americans by patrolling the streets with shot-guns.
In 1967 Huey Newton was wounded during a shootout with police. While in the hospital he was charged with killing a policeman and sentenced to prison. Following this incident most of the BPP leadership was on the run from law enforcement officials. Between 1967 and 1971 more than 300 Panthers were jailed, forced into hiding, or killed.
The FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, described the Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country". In November 1968 he ordered the FBI to employ "hard-hitting counter-intelligence measures to cripple the Black Panthers". Over a six years period, 24 Panthers were killed in gun fights with the police.
Some of the more notable members were Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis , David Hilliard, and Fred Hampton.
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