Tag Archives: Black Panther Party

WHAT A SHAME: DONALD TRUMP BECOMES THE LATEST AMERICAN POLITICIAN TO CALL FOR ASSATA OLUGBALA SHAKUR’S HEAD

I have lived enough life to realize that people in possession of some semblance of politico-economic power often convey their true intentions within a palatable message individually crafted to rally an unthinking horde. Trust me when I say that this is standard fare for the politically powerful in this nation. In many ways, the above tactic allows them to generate support via the use of strong keywords that never fail to raise an always-existing blood lust among the unrighteous to a boil.

The moment that I heard that Donald Trump was planning to reverse Obama’s efforts to re-establish relations with Cuba, I knew that the name Assata Shakur, a sixty-nine-year-old grandmother, would be hurled by this nation’s leader. In many ways, Assata Shakur’s Cuban exile reminds one of a ‘Cold War’ period that has recently been ratcheted up by the repeated allegations of Russian interference in the most recent Presidential election.

Unbeknownst to the vast majority of African-Americans and the chagrin of American law enforcement agencies, Cuban President Fidel Castro granted former Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and Black Liberation Army leader Assata Shakur political asylum over thirty-years ago. To Castro’s credit, he has offered similar protection to many African-American political activists such as Robert F. Williams, Huey P. Newton, William Lee Brent and Eldridge Cleaver. Despite the derisive statements habitually propagated to the American public about the Cuban “dictator”, during his life, Castro offered refuge to African-Americans who were unjustly persecuted by the American judicial system. From American politicians and law enforcement officials perspective, the Cuban leader’s granting of a haven for African-American activists served as an inexcusable blemish on not only his but also his nation’s record.

Make no mistake about it; the pursuit of Assata Shakur undoubtedly displays the indomitable will of American law enforcement officials and agencies at Federal, State, and local levels to correct what they perceive to be an inexcusable wrong. Indicative of this thirst for vengeance, the United States Government placed Assata Shakur on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Many have wondered why America has pursued Assata Shakur with such desperation.

The answer to the above question revolves around a shootout between members of the Black Liberation Army and the New Jersey State Highway Patrol on May 2, 1973. Although there are conflicting stories regarding what occurred during the altercation, there are several things that are factual and therefore unchanging. Facts state that a New Jersey State Trooper stopped a vehicle carrying three members of the Black Liberation Army; Assata Shakur was a passenger in this vehicle and wanted by law enforcement agencies for her determination to secure the liberation and salvation of her people, a dedication that led to her assuming a prominent role in the Black Power movement. Law enforcement agencies alleged that Assata was “the mother hen who kept them all shooting.” Evidence gathered from not only the scene but also the hospital that Shakur was taken to after being shot by a New Jersey State Trooper, definitively prove several things: (a) she had not fired a weapon that night, (b) she had been shot while sitting in the vehicle that she was traveling in, (c) she was shot with her hands up, and (d) she was partially paralyzed along one side of her body as a result of nerve damage caused by the trooper’s bullets. However, little of that mattered as the State of New Jersey decided that Assata Shakur must pay for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

Further aggravating American law enforcement agencies is not only the swell of support Assata Shakur received while she stood trial for the incident mentioned above but also her subsequent escape from a maximum security facility after a murder conviction. Making matters worse for law enforcement officials was the reality that they were never able to re-capture Assata during the five years between her harrowing prison escape and her unceremonious arrival in Cuba.

Assata’s escape is akin to consistent irritant to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies that have been rubbed raw. The greatest indicator that American law enforcement agencies, as well as this nation’s elected officials, are still riled by Assata Shakur has been their repeated attempts to recapture her. For example,

  • In 1998, the United States House of Representatives passed Concurrent Resolution 254 that requested that the Cuban Castro-led Government expeditiously return Assata Shakur to America. The measure passed with a 371 (yea) – 0 (Nay) vote.
  • In the same year, the United States Senate passed the same piece of legislation, Concurrent Resolution 254, by a unanimous vote.
  • In 2005, the United States Department of Justice entered the fray in a major way when they increased an already hefty award for Assata Shakurs capture to $1,000,000.00
  • In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that was headed by the tyrannical J. Edgar Hoover and his Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) when the pursuit of Shakur began, not only placed Assata on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, but also raised the bounty on her head to $2,000,000.00. The FBI now characterizes Shakur as a ‘domestic terrorist.’

Since she escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in Union Township, New Jersey, Assata Shakur has morphed into a never-ending irritant to powerful whites and evidence that white power is not immutable. There is no doubt that it is Assata’s defiance that has heightened white political leaders’ maniacal pursuit of her for the past thirty-plus years. Put simply; in the minds of white politicians and law enforcement authorities, Assata is a rebellious slave whose escape inspires others currently ensnared by the chains of mental slavery and economic exploitation.

It is through this prism that I view both Donald Trump’s call for Assata’s return and the commentary of current U.S. Senator (New Jersey-D) and Cuban-American Bob Menendez. According to Menendez, Trump’s “announcement is a step in the right direction to reverse an ill-advised and misguided Cuba policy that has failed to deliver on its promises, left the Cuban people worse off, and allowed American fugitives, like wanted terrorist and cop-killer Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakru), to escape justice.”

I most certainly would love to state that figures like Trump, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Menendez or those that occupied similar political positions before them are not serious about their decades long pursuit of Assata, however, I have witnessed the actions of unwise men for far too long to believe that their dedication to such a task does not match that of a “radical Islamist” that they are quick to denounce. Assata Shakur’s existence holds the potential to inspire droves of politically conscious black people who agree with her fight against the Capitalist principles and white world supremacy that this nation has come to represent more forcefully than any that ever existed before its creation. Predictably, the alluded to inspiration that Assata provides to black freedom fighters is just as strongly felt by opponents such as Trump, Christie, and Menendez. From such individuals perspective, Assata and her kind (Mutulu Shakur, Fred Hampton, Bunchy Carter, Geronimo Pratt, Karl Hampton, Huey P. Newton, Tupac Amaru Shakur, William Lee Brent, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Rush, George and Jonathan Jackson, and the list goes on and one) are analogous to the free blacks that white slave-holders wished to repatriate to Liberia and Sierra Leone as their non-bonded status gave their enslaved brothers and sisters radical ideas and desires for freedom. Hence it should be expected that a figure such as Donald Trump would publicly call for the head of our beloved sister Assata Olugbala Shakur.

At this moment, it is imperative that Black America’s response to these demonic actions not only be a vociferous “No! No! No!” but also be prepared to extend our anger further than mere rhetoric or casting a vote within the very system that oppresses us. We must be willing to follow Assata’s revolutionary example by every means imaginable.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

Please support Independent Black Scholarship; it’s the only way that we are going to free our minds.

Author, Creating Revolution as They Advance: A Historical Narrative of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Author, ‘Foolish’ Floyd: The Life & Times of an African-American Contrarian

Author, O’Bruni: An African-American Odyssey Home?

 

WHY DID FBI DIRECTOR J. EDGAR HOOVER ORDER HIS MEN TO ATTACK THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF-DEFENSE?

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have-nots.

(Ericka Huggins)

It is most certainly a daunting proposition to be born black in a schizophrenic nation whose creation was made possible by the enslavement of stolen Africans yet steadily reminds its citizenry that racial matters are relatively inconsequential. Despite what American powerbrokers have repeatedly attempted to assert over the past several centuries, race still somewhat matters.

In many ways, it is surprising that in a nation where an elite class of white power-brokers has risen to power by exploiting all non-elites regardless of racial classification or ethnic identity that racial struggle and pride has not been abandoned by all. Nonetheless, Race remains the rallying point for American groups. Considering the overwhelming influence of Race in America, one is hard-pressed to dispute one of Malcolm X’s most truthful assertions of U.S. racial matters. In an often forgotten moment of commentary regarding the melting of new immigrants into the American fabric of whiteness, Malcolm X remarked that “the first word that European immigrants learn when they come to Ellis Island is Nigger!” From the perspective of Black America, “Nigger” was the secret password that allowed the Irish, Polish, and every other new immigrant group to cloak themselves in a socially constructed and politically expedient cover of bland whiteness. Unfortunately, whites have much company in allowing Race to serve as a rallying point for politico-economic solidarity.

Consider for a moment that racial matters are so central to the vision of black leaders’ that their followers would certainly abandon their camp if they ever de-emphasized racial issues for another variable such as Class. Put simply; within the African-American freedom struggle, any discussion not exclusively focused on Race is not only ridiculed but also dismissed as utter foolishness by an unproductive revolutionary cadre fixated on Race. Black America’s so-called revolutionary class fails to realize that their obsessive focus on Race significantly marginalizes their status as revolutionaries seeking to liberate their person from the misery and sorrow that attaches itself to the economically exploited in any Capitalist nation. Although Black revolutionaries must for their mental comfort resist the insinuation that their efforts to liberate Black America from its centuries-long marginalized status are not only futile but also poses no threat to power-brokers, the fact that power-brokers rarely respond to their efforts should serve as a major indicator of they being on the incorrect path. If they were engaged in the revolutionary process, power-brokers would react in a real manner to their activities. Just ask the remaining leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense if my words are correct.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of my having studied the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the past twenty years has been the internal angst that occurs when I engage groups and individuals who have convinced themselves that they are some way a continuation of the original Panthers that Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded on October 15, 1966, in Oakland, California. After the publication of my book on the Black Panther Party titled Creating Revolution as they Advance was completed, I received the honor of being invited to participate in panel discussions and deliver lectures over the Black Power Era and the vaunted Panther Party; the Vanguard of America’s highly-volatile sixties protest culture.

Although I wish that I could say otherwise, the vast majority of the panel discussions that I have participated in have only highlighted how little many of the individuals who have desperately attempted to seize the Panther’s revolutionary mantle know about organizational principles and philosophies.

One of the most telling signs that many of the modern reiterations of the Black Panther Party are uninformed regarding Panther philosophies is their disproportionate focus on racial matters and utter silence regarding far more impacting class issues. This current cadre of Panthers fails to realize that the path to revolution is not found in the arena of Race, rather class warfare. Despite their inability to recognize it, the poverty that has enveloped so many Americans should be the rallying call to action, not a clumsy attempt by one group of poor people to take the limited resources that other poor people have gained temporary access to.

The failure to accentuate Class over Race reveals present-day Panthers as intellectual lightweights who have yet to find their way to the revolutionary road; such individuals remain mesmerized by icons and symbols such as guns, leather jackets, and berets that mean very little in regards to revolutionary struggle. Contemporary Panthers are seemingly enchanted by the seductive siren known as Race.

Consider for a moment why J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, directed the overwhelming majority of Bureau resources toward the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s destruction. Is the answer to this query found in the Panther’s carrying weapons? Most certainly not! If that were the case, then the Deacons for Defense and Justice or Revolutionary Action Movement — two other black groups that openly carried weapons in defense of their community — would have received similar treatment. The answer to why the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was singled out over their activist contemporaries is ironically their decision to de-emphasize racial matters and accentuate class issues that are more meaningful in a capitalist society.

Consider for a moment the following recollection of Panther leader Ericka Huggins regarding why J. Edgar Hoover’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) singled-out the Panthers for the brunt of their repressive activities. Huggins recalls that,

We were saying that poor people should rally and organize against an oppressive government which oppressed us because we were poor, not just because we were black, but because we were poor. See, they (the FBI) could hear all the buy black, do black, think black, be black, black on, and black power. They (the FBI) could hear that, they didn’t care about that part. It was when poor niggers started talking about class struggle that they got frightened. And not just talked about it, but did something…No. They (the FBI) were worried about ignorant, poor niggers on the streets with guns talking about the haves and the have nots.

If nothing else, J. Edgar Hoover understood the inherent dangers that would eventually manifest from Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s teachings regarding the exploitative nature of capitalism and the need for an inter-racial coalition of like-minded organizations to combat this odd beast that threatened all of humanity.

American power-brokers realized that the Panthers pursuit of like-minded groups interested in overthrowing Capitalist America was a unique and significant threat to their existence. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was convinced that Huey P. Newton’s manifestation as a revolutionary theoretician that managed to emphasize class issues without totally dismissing the impact of racial matters made him the most dangerous man in America, one capable of being a messianic figure capable of unifying not only the black movement, but also creating productive coalitions with like-minded groups of varying races and ethnicities.

To the chagrin of his opponents, Newton displayed an uncanny willingness to forge alliances with groups seeking to destroy American Capitalism, regardless of their race/ethnicity or sexual orientation. Therein lays the reason that J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO selected the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense for the bulk of their repressive activities. Unfortunately, contemporary “revolutionaries” are still entangled in a “racial bag” that limits their ability to conceive innovative activities. One thing is for certain until the new Panthers are able to unlearn the draconian lessons of their oppressor, they will never reach, let alone travel down the revolutionary road.

ALL POWER TO ALL PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Why We Call Them Pigs: Huey P. Newton Explains the Black Panther Party’s Use of the Term Pig

I have always considered it extremely important to understand each and every aspect of the Black Power Era. Anyone who has studied this era will tell you that the language used by the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was not only used to convey a message but also intended for that message to be delivered with laser-like precision. Considering the Panther Party’s never-ending conflict with law enforcement agencies at the Federal, State, and local levels it is not surprising that Huey P. Newton’s cadre would have their unique way of referring to law enforcement personnel that was often behaving lawlessly.

While researching my book, Creating Revolution as they Advance, I came across the following explanation and justification for the use of the term “Pigs” by Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton.

We thought up new terms for them. At first I figured that the reverse of god – dog – would be a good epithet, but it did not catch on. We tried beast, brute, and animal, but none of them captured the essential quality we were trying to convey…Eldridge showed us a postcard from Beverly Axelrod. On the front was the slogan “Support Your Local Police”; there was a sheriff’s star above the phrase, and in the center of the star a grinning, slobbering pig. It was just what we were looking for. We began to show policemen as pigs in our cartoons, and from time to time used the word. “Pig” caught on; it entered the language…

“Pig” was perfect for several reasons. First of all, words like “swine,” “hog,” “sow,” and “pig” have always had unpleasant connotations…”Pig” has another point in its favor: in racial terms “pig” is a neutral word. Many white youths on college campuses began to understand what the police were really like when their heads were broken open during demonstrations against the draft and the Vietnam War. This broadened the use of the term and served to unify the victims against their oppressors. Even though white youths were not victimized in the same way or to the same extent that we were, they nonetheless became our allies against the police. In this case the ruling circle was not able to set the victims against each other, as the racists in the South had done by setting poor whites against Blacks.

Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide

And You Call Yourself a Panther?: The Hate-Filled Dead-End Road that Cultural Nationalist Routinely Travel

It is amazing that the same problems afflicting the African-American protest community 50 years ago remain prevalent to the present day. I am confident that most people think that I am referring to the dogged refusal of America’s leading cancers — prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, and racism — to excuse themselves from “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
If those are your thoughts, you are going to be disappointed to learn that I am not alluding to the pernicious evils mentioned above as I am attempting to address an ever-present danger found within the black activist community. The evil I speak of is the continuing tendency of Cultural Nationalists to haphazardly denigrate and mischaracterize all whites as a monolithic population whose sole political priority is to retard African-American politico-economic progress.

I am honest by relating that I have yet to find the words to express my frustrations with the manner that the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s legacy of racial progressivism has been co-opted and revamped to fit the needs of contemporary “activists.” Unfortunately, the activists mentioned above are absent a political platform capable of addressing the pernicious evils affecting the black community. The alluded to individuals believe that an integral part of revolutionary politics is not political mobilization or economic solidarity, rather they seek to advance their understanding of the black agenda via “hate-speech.”

Make no mistake about it, the re-surfacing of imagery intentionally designed to stir up memories of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPPSD) by individuals lacking even a superficial understanding of either the Panthers political platforms or historical experiences has needlessly marred the Panther legacy for counter-revolutionary self-serving purposes. The legacy left by Huey, Bobby, Eldridge, Kathleen, Lil’ Bobby, Bunchy, Fred, Geronimo, Elaine, and those who made up the Panther cadre deserve so much more than what contemporary manifestations of the Panther Party are providing.

What makes the denigration of the Panther image so painful is that if those behind the many attempts to resurrect the Panthers had taken a moment to study BPPSD ideology, they would have quickly discerned that Huey P. Newton opposed any effort to characterize other activist communities, including the white community, as being monolithic. Those who have studied Huey realize that he was not only a genius but also used that mental acumen to in a wise and judicious manner. Consider for a moment, that the Panthers, at the behest of Eldridge “Papa Rage” Cleaver, forged an alliance with the Peace and Freedom Party, a group of white radicals, because it served the interests of the Party at that particular moment. The Panthers are a great example of the utility of alliances and coalitions with like-minded groups, regardless of their race/ethnicity. Those who disagree with the above assertion know little about both the Panther legacy and the black struggle for racial equality.

Unfortunately, phrase-mongering rabble-rousing Cultural Nationalists who are quick to speak, yet slow to study, are not only comfortable spewing vitriolic hatred, but also often encouraged to do such by adoring audiences. Little do they know, that such a backward political stance stunts their political power as it alienates all around them regardless of race, class, or gender.

I have dealt with Cultural Nationalists long enough to know that they will both ignore and deny an easily accessible historical record that proves that inter-racial alliances were a hallmark of the BPPSD. It is for this population that does not mind existing under a yoke that is equal parts illogical and shockingly uninformed that I include the following quote by BPPSD co-founder Huey P. Newton.
According to Newton, the African-American activist community “…must also be able to realize that there are white people, brown people, red people, yellow people in this world who are totally dedicated to the destruction of this system of oppression, and we welcome that. We will always be open to working with that.

I am quite confident that luminaries of the African-American freedom struggle such as Newton, Hampton, Baldwin, Du Bois, and King are rolling over in their graves at the ascension of a black political platform that rests upon nothing more than divisive hate-filled rhetoric. Put simply; such rhetoric not only fails to represent black leaders who came before us, but also guarantees that none of the previous mutually beneficial alliances that aided our community in its pursuit of liberation are possible today. Contemporary so-called black leaders have efficiently placed themselves in a box of irrelevancy that they cannot escape.
Despite the euphoria that many of these new activists feel after hearing a profanity-laced rant against some yet to be identified “white man,” the truth of the matter is that such rhetoric serves as a highly imperfect substitute for a well-thought out political agenda. Not to mention that such hate-speech has yet to move the struggle forward one iota. Trust me when I say that it never has and it never will.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Why the Revolutionary is a Doomed Man Win or Lose According to Huey P. Newton

Rarely does a day go by that I am not made aware of some self-promoting “Black Revolutionary.” If only I had a dollar for every “Revolutionary Black Man” that I encountered, I would be a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these individuals have little understanding of the steep cost one must make to carry the revolutionary mantle.

I rarely encounter people who understand even the first lesson of being a revolutionary. If they were in possession of such knowledge, I am confident that they would choose a different life path.

According to Black Panther Party for Self-Defense co-founder Huey P. Newton, a figure that so many of today’s so-called revolutionary-minded individuals admire, “The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man.” Let me repeat this prophetic statement by a brother who most certainly possessed the revolutionary spirit, “The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man.

Although I would love to disagree with Newton’s position on this matter, to do such would make me illogical and a liar. If one understands the role of a revolutionary among an oppressed people, there is simply no way of avoiding the harsh reality that Huey is communicating.
A revolutionary is a doomed man for the following inescapable reasons. If he fails at his attempt to overthrow the oppressive regime oppressing his people, he will meet a quick demise at the hands of the oppressor. If he can successfully lead a revolutionary struggle, he is therefore of no additional utility to those who have been able to escape the yoke of oppression. Put simply; win or lose, a revolutionary is a doomed man.

It is this primary lesson of revolutionary struggle that so many of today’s vain, self-centered, and boastful revolutionaries fail to consider. The alluded to failure is predictable for a so-called revolutionary class that spends more time talking, making Facebook posts, and Youtube videos than conducting substantive research regarding the catalyst behind and perpetuation of real politico-economic problems affecting those that they publicly proclaim to represent. Put simply, today’s “Black Revolutionary” class is continuing one of their grandest traditions of “talking loud and saying nothing.” Such inactivity is far from revolutionary and one of the primary reasons that our community continues to be disorganized politically, economic inefficient, and clueless regarding even a proper academic or cultural diet.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017

Dr. James Thomas Jones III is the author of Creating Revolution as they Advance: A Narrative History of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. (Available at Amazon and Other Fine Bookstores.)