The Origins of the Black Panther Party and the Reasoning Behind Their Ideologies (by Phoebe Huth)

The Origins of the Black Panther Party and the Reasoning Behind Their Ideologies  (By Phoebe Huth)

 OVERVIEW:

The goal of these materials and activities is to create an understanding of how the Black Panther Party came to be and the reasons behind their driving ideologies.

 FRAMEWORK:

The following lesson plan is designed to have students engage in primary source materials that create an understanding of the origins of the Black Panther Party.  By engaging in this material, students will have a deeper understanding of the reasons behind the techniques used by the Black Panthers.  The students will also be able to understand where the Black Panther Party’s ideologies stem from and the actions they did based on those ideologies.  Students will be able to understand the economic, social, and political reasons that are deeply rooted in the Black Panther Party.  The students will also be able to empathize with the Black Panther Party and the means they used to fulfill their ideologies.  This lesson may be divided into two class periods depending on time constraints.

ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDING:

The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary group that was originally created to monitor police brutality, but, through a greater understanding of the social, political, and economic structures around them, the Party engaged in activities to bring awareness to oppressive structures by creating community programs, challenging the Police, running for public office, supporting other social movements at the time, and many other activities.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:

1.  How was the Black Panther Party started?  How did their ideas and ideals change over time?

2.  How did the Black Panther Party justify violence?  How was that justification seen at the time?

3.  What were the main goals of the Black Panther Party and how did they fulfill those goals?  Were they successful?

4.  How were they organized?  Who were the leaders?

5.  How did they spread information?  How did the media play a role in their popularity as an organization?

6.  How did the portrayal of the Black Panther Party in the media influence the Party’s organization and techniques?

7.  How did the Party interact with other movements going on at the time?  How did they interact with the community?

 

INTRODUCTION:

When the Black Panther Party was founded in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, they noticed that racism and discrimination was still very prevalent in the United States and all around the world. Even after the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision and the desegregation of buses in Montgomery, Alabama, there was still a visible underlying racism imbedded in society in the United States, some of which can still be seen today. The original goal of the Black Panther Party (BPP) was to monitor police brutality. After thoroughly examining the law, the BPP found that people were allowed to carry guns if they were not being pointed at anyone. The BPP started to carry around guns, but solely for self defense. In a society where many African Americans were harassed by police officers, they found that simply by carrying around guns was a form of protection.

The BPP grew rapidly. Many people were attracted to its militaristic style. One event that gained huge amounts of media coverage was when 29 BPP members, 20 of which were armed, went inside of the State Capitol building in Sacramento during an assembly. Bobby Seale then read the BPP’s Ten Point Program and proceeded to leave. The BPP got national media coverage by this event, which sparked increased support for the BPP. The BPP created a Ten Point Program, which outlined their demands and the beliefs behind those demands. This program resonated with many people across the United States, which lead to increasing support for the BPP.

In addition to monitoring police brutality, the BPP worked with many other movements and organizations at the time, like the Asian American Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Third World movement, and many others. They believed that the overall system of the United States was deeply instilled with racism through the colonization of other nations. The BPP, being a revolutionary group, believed that there needed to be a revolution to overhaul the current systems at play to create an equal and fair society. The Black Panther Party was much more than a social group, but they were also political through having members run for office and for acknowledging the biases in the political system, and an economic group through recognizing the inequalities in the system at the time. They worked with many other groups because they supported their rights for equality and recognized their struggle. In addition, the BPP helped their own community by setting up programs, such as feeding children breakfast before school and opening medical clinics. The BPP believed in much more than simply defending themselves, they believed in creating an equal society for all people.

MATERIALS:

1.  https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/Study?tid=-1   Implicit Association Test- press “Click Here to Begin” and follow the directions to take the test and see the results at the end

2.  <http://www.lib.msu.edu/branches/dmc/collectionbrowse.jsp?coll=20&par=1&gt;.   Click on the PDF under the first article, titled: “An Introduction to the Black Panther Party”

3.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuBqyBE1Ppw   A short clip of an interview of Angela Davis in 1972

4.  https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/190420  A short clip of a speech by Bobby Seale in 1967

5.  http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/panthers10pt.html  The Black Panther Party Platform and Program

ACTIVITIES:

To begin the class, either ask students to take the Implicit Association Test on their own or have a few students take it during the class or go through the test together as one class.  The Implicit Association Test is designed to show whether people have a preference towards African Americans or European Americans.  Across the United States, it shows that even today, the majority of European Americans have a preference towards European Americans and about half of African Americans have a preference towards European Americans.  Students should discuss the implication of these findings.  How deeply rooted is racism in the United States?  Does this show that most Americans are outwardly racist or is this a subconscious phenomenon?

Next, handout the article, “An Introduction to the Black Panther Party.”  Split up the article into different sections and split the class into groups.  Have each group work on a certain section and summarize the section.  Then have each group share the summary of their section of the article.  As a class, discuss the origins of the Black Panther Party.  How was the Black Panther Party started?   What were the main goals of the Black Panther Party and how did they fulfill those goals?  Were they successful?  How were they organized?  Who were the leaders?  How did they spread information?  How did the media play a role in their popularity as an organization?  How did the portrayal of the Black Panther Party in the media influence the Party’s organization and techniques?  How did the Party interact with other movements going on at the time?  How did they interact with the community?

(If the class needs to be separated into two classes, end the first one here.)

In the next activity, watch the clip of Angela Davis talking about violence within the Black Panther Party.  Start a discussion on the use of violence in the BPP.  How was violence justified?  Do the students believe that the BPP should use violence?  Was their use of violence effective?  Next watch the clip of Bobby Seale talking about violence.  How does Seale’s perspective of violence differ from Davis’s view of violence?  How are they similar?  How does the role of society affect their use of violence?

In the last activity, print out the Ten Point Program of the Black Panther Party and hand it out to the students.  Through the first primary source, “An Introduction to the Black Panther Party,” do you think that the Black Panther Party was successful with it’s goals?  Have students split off into groups of about 3 or 4 and create their own Ten Point Program about an issue that is relevant to them.  Have the students list a goal and then the reasoning behind that goal.  Have each group present to the class their own Ten Point Program.

At the very end of class, have each student write down a fact or an aspect about the Black Panther Party.  It can be a question they have, or just a statement, or something they learned.  Have each student turn in the slip and then shuffle up the slips of paper and pass them back out to the students.  Go around in a circle and have each person read the new slip they have and make a comment on it or discuss it.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

Alkebulan, Paul. Survival Pending Revolution: The History of the Black Panther Party. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 2007. Print.

Murch, Donna Jean. Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2010. Print.

Ogbar, Jeffrey Ogbonna Green. Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004. Print.

Seale, Bobby. Seize the Time; the Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton. New York: Random House, 1970. Print.

STANDARDS:

1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

2.  Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

3.  Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media in order to address a question or solve a problem.

4.  Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.

5.  Students interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded rather than solely in terms of present- day norms and values.

Responses

  1. this wasn’t very helpful to my question at all!


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