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Founded in Oakland, California, by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton on October 15, 1966, the organization initially set forth a doctrine calling primarily for the protection of African American neighborhoods from police brutality. But the Black Panther Party's objectives and philosophy expanded and evolved rapidly during the party's existence. The organization's leaders passionately espoused socialist and communist (largely Maoist) doctrines, but the Party's black nationalist reputation attracted an ideologically diverse membership.Ideological consensus within the party was difficult to achieve, and some prominent members openly disagreed with the views of the leaders.
The organization's official newspaper, The Black Panther, was first circulated in 1967. Also that year, the Black Panther Party marched on the California State Capitol in Sacramento in protest of a selective ban on weapons. By 1968, the party had expanded into many cities throughout the United States, including New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, San Diego, Denver, Newark, New York City, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Membership reached 5,000 and their newspaper, under the editorial leadership of Eldridge Cleaver, had a circulation of 250,000. The group created a Ten-Point Program, a document that called for "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace", as well as exemption from conscription for African-American men, among other demands. With the Ten-Point program, “What we Want, What We Believe”, the Black Panther Party captured in uncompromising language the collective economic and political grievances articulated by black radicals and many black liberals since the 1930s.
Gaining national prominence, the Black Panther Party became an icon of the counterculture of the 1960s. Ultimately, the Panthers condemned black nationalism as "black racism" and became more focused on socialism without racial exclusivity. They instituted a variety of community social programs designed to alleviate poverty and improve health among communities deemed most needful of aid. It also recognized that different minority communities (those it deemed oppressed by the US government) needed to organize around their own set of issues and encouraged alliances with such organizations.
The White Panthers were a far left, anti-racist, White American political collective founded in 1968 by Lawrence Plamondon, Leni Sinclair, and John Sinclair. It was started in response to an interview where Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, was asked what white people could do to support the Black Panthers. Newton replied that they could form a White Panther Party. The group took the name and dedicated its energies to "cultural revolution." Sinclair made every effort to ensure that the White Panthers were not mistaken for a white supremacist group, responding to such claims with "quite the contrary." The party worked with many ethnic minority rights groups in the Rainbow Coalition.
In November 1968, Fifth Estate published the "White Panther State/meant". This manifesto, emulating the Black Panthers, ended with a ten-point program: Full endorsement and support of the Black Panther Party's 10-point program and platform. Total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock and roll, dope, and #ing in the streets. Free exchange of energy and materials—we demand the end of money! Free food, clothes, housing, dope, music, bodies, medical care—everything free for every body! Free access to information media—free the technology from the greed creeps! Free time & space for all humans—dissolve all unnatural boundaries! Free all schools and all structures from corporate rule—turn the buildings over to the people at once! Free all prisoners everywhere—they are our comrades! Free all soldiers at once—no more conscripted armies! Free the people from their phony "leaders"—everyone must be a leader—freedom means free every one! All Power to the People!
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,” and he supervised an extensive program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, assassination, infiltration, police harassment, perjury, and a laundry list of other tactics designed to incriminate party members and drain the organization of resources and manpower. Through these tactics, it was thought that their potential for further advancement would diminish and probability of continuing to serve as a threat to the general power structure of the US, or maintain a presence as a strong undercurrent would shrink.” While party membership started to decline during Huey Newton's 1968 manslaughter trial, the Black Panther Party collapsed altogether in the early 1970s. Scholars such as Angela Davis and Ward Churchill have alleged that law enforcement officials went to great lengths to discredit and destroy the organization, including assassination.
The New Black Panther Party (NBPP), whose formal name is the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, is a U.S.-based black political organization founded in Dallas, Texas in 1989. Despite its name, NBPP is not an official successor to the Black Panther Party. Members of the original Black Panther Party have insisted that this party is illegitimate and have vociferously objected that there "is no new Black Panther Party". The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center identify the New Black Panthers as a hate group.