Tag Archives: Revolution

A MESSAGE FOR THE PANTHERS: WHY J. EDGAR HOOVER CONSIDERED GRITS TO BE THE GREATEST THREAT TO THE NATION

On the surface, it appeared to be a humorous quip posited by Roger Guenveur Smith during his one-man stage performance The Huey P. Newton Story. The moment that I allude to is when the critically acclaimed actor channeled the spirit of Huey P. Newton and remarked that Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) Director J. Edgar Hoover charged that the most significant internal threat to the United States of America was Grits. Yes, you read that correctly. J. Edgar Hoover believed that the single-greatest threat to the internal security of the greatest military empire mankind has ever known was Grits!

Although it may shock many, the truth in this one-liner outweighs its comedic undertones. At worst, the statement conveys a dual truth: (a) Hoover feared the Panthers Free Breakfast for children program and (b) The F.B.I. Director was correct in his summation that the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (B.P.P.) Free Breakfast for Children Program was the single-greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America.

If the droves of individuals who have laid claim to the B.P.P. revolutionary mantle understood such substantive matters they would abandon their reactionary activism and seek to understand why the F.B.I. Director took issue with the Free Breakfast & Lunch for Children Programs. Dare I say, that such a move would be the most significant move the black liberation movement has made in the past four decades.

Despite the voluminous criticism that Black Powerites hurl at the memory of J. Edgar Hoover, few can reasonably dispute his brilliance or the tenacious manner with which he executed his sworn duty to protect the United States of America. Were these new Panthers serious about the liberation of Black America they would have long-ago realized that it was the B.P.P. development of young black minds, not guns that raised the ire of Director Hoover and all those he represented. The alluded to attacks can be credited to the reality that the framework for the rise of any people is found in the development of a revolutionary ethos among both male and female children.

I routinely encounter self-proclaimed revolutionaries who fail to realize the revolutionary nature of the Free Breakfast Program. I have discovered that the most expeditious manner in which one can deal with such individuals is to remind them of Malcolm X’s assertion that “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.”

It did not take the F.B.I. Director long to understand that the Panthers were using their Free Breakfast & Lunch for Children Programs to nourish the bodies of black children while simultaneously providing a relevant education designed to liberate their minds from the chains of white world supremacy.

Hoover understood that the Free Breakfast for Children Program was growing the next generation of Black Revolutionaries via lessons, songs, and chants that muted mind-numbing children rhymes such as Old McDonald had a Farm or The Itsy Bitsy Spider. When viewed from the correct perspective, it is clear that of all their community service projects, it was the Free Breakfast for Children Program that held the greatest potential to uplift Black America. Those involved in this community service project received so much pro-Black information that there was little room left for the standard school curriculum to enter. Make no mistake about it, it is the exposure to Panther ideology and lessons that produced Tupac Amaru Shakur.

In hindsight, there is little debate that of all the points on the Black Panther Party’s 10-Point Platform and Program current Panthers are fascinated with Point #7 — “We Want an Immediate End to Police Brutality and Murder of Black People.” There is little debate that Point #7 is crucial to the survival of black people in America. However, it does not outweigh Point #5 in regards to securing liberation for Black America.

Point #5

We Want Education For Our People That Exposes
The True Nature Of This Decadent American Society.
We Want Education That Teaches Us Our True History
And Our Role In The Present-Day Society.

We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.

Were I permitted the opportunity, I would urge those leading these recent manifestations of the Black Panther Party to reconsider the fixation on the gun and turn their attention toward recreating both the Free Breakfast & Lunch Programs for Children as well as unearthing the curriculum that was poured into the minds of our children. Let us never forget that the minds of our children are by far our most valuable resources, especially when it comes to the liberation and salvation of the black nation.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017

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

WHERE ARE THE REVOLUTIONARY BLACK LEADERS TODAY?

“Here – at this final hour, in this quiet place – Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes -extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought – his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are – and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again – in Harlem – to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought her, and have defended her honor even to the death.
It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us – unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to : Afro-American – Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a ‘Negro’ years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted – so desperately – that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans too.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain – and we will smile. Many will say turn away – away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man – and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate – a fanatic, a racist – who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: ‘My journey’, he says, ‘is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.’ However we may have differed with him – or with each other about him and his value as a man – let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.

(Ossie Davis, 1965)

There is little doubt that Malcolm X remains the ‘gold-standard’ of black male leadership. For the vast majority of those involved in any facet of the current black freedom struggle, Malcolm X serves as the North Star of Black Manhood.

I am quite certain that it was Malcolm’s display of a courageous manhood that inspired SNCC worker Cleveland Sellers to posit that ‘the problems facing Black America will be solved by black men and black men alone.’ The historical record indicates that Sellers’ strand of thinking remains the most popular view of the black man’s role inside and outside of the African-American freedom struggle.

Consider for a moment the “traditional” roles that black men are expected to fill within their community.

  • Head of household
  • Priest of the home
  • Primary Material Provider
  • Protector of the home
  • Revolutionary Leader

Make no mistake about it the duties assigned to African-American men are critical to the continuing existence of black folk in America.

The fact that African-American existence is consistently perilous makes it critical that we take a closer look at how contemporary black leaders conceive manhood. Put simply, within black America what does a revolutionary black leader look like at this moment?

Before I begin, let me issue the following qualifier regarding the primary pre-requisite to black leadership in today’s Black liberation struggle, that being an individual who has someway or somehow been able to generate a substantial following within the African-American activist community. Such a qualifier is necessary to make this topic somewhat manageable in this space.

When considering the type of male leadership that has curried favor with a sizable population of the African-American community, there are several qualities that contemporary black male leaders possess.

  • Charisma
  • Substantial Social Media Presence
  • Tendency to become involved in Public Spats with other Black Male Leaders
  • Willingness to implement a ‘scorched Earth’ policy when challenged by anyone at any place or at any time.

In many ways, contemporary black leaders’ actions and articulations put one in the mind of a mundane reality television star.

Probably the most disappointing aspect of contemporary black male leaders flows from the many qualities that they neither possess nor need to remain atop their perch. The qualities include, but are in no way limited to the following items.

  • Historical Illiteracy
  • A gross absence of political astuteness
  • Lacking the courage to either speak truth to power or develop reasonable plans to attack white power structures
  • Failure to engage and comprehend an essential literature base
  • Psychologically unbalanced
  • Inability to be governed by a reliable moral compass
  • Socially inappropriate in their interactions with (black men and women)
  • Incapable of developing and then implementing a logical plan aimed at addressing the politico-economic, social, and cultural problems negatively impacting their people.

Put simply; it is safe to term contemporary black leaders “anti-Malcolm’s” as they are devoid of all of the qualities that endeared Brother Malcolm X to the Black community.

The great historian John Henrik Clarke once noted that today we have Hollywood revolutions that do not begin until someone says “lights, camera, action.” Unfortunately, I believe that Dr. Clarke was correct in his summation of contemporary black leadership, as it is undeniable that they are more interested in own self-promotion than in liberation of the masses. The alluded to figures appear to be primarily concerned with speaking engagements that produce nothing more than an increase in their bank accounts and increased television exposure that increases their fame. If nothing else, this pursuit of fame via social media and television guarantees that they are most definitely not leading their people down a revolutionary path, because even the Last Poets told us that “the revolution will not be televised.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Fumbling the Legacy: How Contemporary Panther Groups Fail to Honor the Original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense

Considering the unceasing attacks that African-Americans have been subjected to by law enforcement agencies and American racial/ethnic groups, it is predictable that the spirit of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the vanguard of America’s sixties protest community, would be called upon by contemporary activists.

The tenuous position of American race relations makes it somewhat predictable that contemporary activists groups such as the New HueyBlack Panther Party and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club would seek to replicate the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. If nothing else, contemporary activists respect Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and Lil’ Bobby Hutton and the Black Panther Party for their decision to ‘pick up the gun’ and confront the Oakland Police Department regarding police brutality. The alluded to community service project, the Panther Patrols, was the application of Point #7 of the Ten-Point Platform and Program;

We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.

We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.

Within today’s activist community, it appears that beyond an adoration for Panther guns and rhetoric there are very few similarities to be found between the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the innumerable upstart groups that have claimed to be heirs to the Panther legacy.

Ironically, the vast majority of contemporary manifestations of ‘Panther Power’ are making the same mistake that many aspiring Panthers made during the sixties; that being, they have become DALLAS PANTHERSenchanted by the power that they perceive as flowing out of the barrel of a gun. Apparently this adoration of the gun is comprehensive as it has caused the alluded to individuals to ignore Huey P. Newton’s admonishment that the community must be stabilized or it would either disintegrate prior to the revolutionary moment or be incapable of successfully executing the revolution. In many ways, there is nothing more frightening than the prospect of those solely focused upon ‘picking up the gun’ running a society after a revolutionary overthrow as there is so many facets of a functioning society that they have failed to even consider the workings of.

Unfortunately for the African-American community, contemporary expressions of ‘Panther Power’ have exclusively attempted to implement Point #7 of the Ten Point Platform and Program while ignoring other relevant points that deal with community service activities that are critical to the Black community’s survival. Such selective application of the Panther Party program leaves contemporary manifestations of the ‘Panther Party’ nearly unrecognizable to the original Panthers as we approach the organizations 50th Anniversary this coming October.

Although I seriously doubt that contemporary manifestations of the ‘Panther Party’ would consider such matters, it may be time for themPanther to de-emphasize ‘picking up the gun’ and turn their focus toward other aspects of the Panther Party’s program that were aimed at stabilizing and uplifting the community. There is no doubt that initiatives aimed at housing, education, and health are much-needed within our community. If contemporary manifestations of the ‘Panther Party’ are determined to ‘pick up the gun’ it may be time for them to add Black-on-Black homicide, along with police brutality, to their docket. Failure to do such in many ways betrays the Panther legacy and denotes them as ‘counter-revolutionary’.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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?

The Correct Handling of a Revolution

The Black masses are handling the resistance incorrectly. When the brothers…amassed the people in the streets, threw bricks and Molotov cocktails to destroy property and create disruption, they were herded into a small area by the Gestapo police and immediately contained by the brutal violence of the oppressor’s storm troops. Although this manner of resistance is sporadic, short-lived, and costly, it has been transmitted across the country to all the ghettos of the Black nation…Huey and Bobby

When the people learn that it is no longer advantageous for them to resist by going into the streets in large numbers, and when they see the advantage in the activities of the guerrilla warfare method, they will quickly follow this example…When the vanguard group destroys the machinery of the oppressor by dealing with him in small groups of three and four, and then escapes the might of the oppressor, the masses will be impressed and more likely to adhere to this correct strategy. When the masses hear that a Gestapo policeman has been executed while sipping coffee at a counter, and the revolutionary executioners fled without being traced, the masses will see the validity of this kind of resistance.

It is…important…to show the people how to stage a revolution.
There are three ways one can learn: through study, observation, and experience. Since the Black community is composed basically of activists, observation of or participation in activity are the principle ways the community learns. To learn by studying is good, but to learn by experience is better…Without this knowledge of the Black community a Black revolution in racist America is impossible.

HueyThe main function of the party is to awaken the people and teach them the strategic method of resisting a power structure which is prepared not only to combat with massive brutality the people’s resistance but to annihilate totally the Black population. If it is learned by the power structure that Black people have “X” number of guns in their possession, that information will not stimulate the power structure to prepare itself with guns; it is already prepared.
The end result of this revolutionary education will be positive for Black people in their resistance, and negative for the power structure in its oppression because the party always exemplifies revolutionary defiance.

Many would-be revolutionaries work under the fallacious notion that the vanguard party should be a secret organization…These so-called revolutionaries want the people to say what they themselves are afraid to say, to do what they themselves are afraid to do. That kind of revolutionary is a coward and a hypocrite. A true revolutionary realizes that if he is sincere death is imminent…Without this realization it is pointless to proceed as a revolutionary.Eldridge

Millions and millions of oppressed people…will learn of its activities and its proper strategy for liberation through an indirect acquaintance provided by the mass media. But it is not enough to rely on the media of the power structure; it is of prime importance that (we develop our) own communications organ, such as a newspaper, and at the same time provide strategic revolutionary art, and destruction of the oppressor’s machinery.

It is believed by some hypocrites that when the people are taught…to prepare for resistance, this only brings ‘the man’ down on them with increasing violence and brutality; but the fact is that when the man becomes more oppressive he only heightens the revolutionary fervor. So if things get worse for oppressed people they will feel the need for revolution and resistance. The people make revolution; the oppressors, by their brutal actions, cause resistance by the people…

By their rebellions in the Black communities across the country the people have proved that they will not tolerate any more oppression by the racist dog police. They are looking now for guidance to extend and strengthen their resistance struggle.Assata

Huey P. Newton (Black Panther Party)

#MRC