The sixties and seventies were a tough time for everyone, especially black people. In researching civil rights issues, I wanted to know how black people reacted to racism and discrimination. In school I have learned about Dr. Martin Luther King's nonviolent quest to gain respect and freedom in America. In this essay, my focus leans towards the more militant approach to gain freedom in America. The Black Panthers were the most influential militant party in the sixties and seventies.
During the turbulent and changing times of the 1960's, one group sought to improve the status of the African American leadership, The Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party was a militant movement that fought for equality and freedom. They wanted to change the inequality that African-Americans were facing through employment opportunities, police brutality, and unfair trials by the judicial system. In the sixties, African-American people were being hosed, beaten and thrown in jail for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This caused anger in many black urban communities, especially in Oakland, California.
Huey P. Newton founded the Black Panther Party for self-defense in 1966. Newton attended Merritt College in Oakland, California where he took part in the Afro-American Association. At one of the freedom rallies that Newton led, an older Bobby Seale took interest in his message. Together, the two formed what would be the beginnings of the Black Panther Party.
Huey Newton, a Louisiana born leader, was the youngest of seven children. He was an illiterate high school graduate who taught himself how to read before attending Merritt College. Newton's quest for a higher learning derived from his anger towards a high school counselor who told him to forget about college and to pursue trade in the workforce (Marine 12). Huey P. Newton's political career spanned two decades. Like many freedom fighters, he was a complex figure, "his international reputation was forged as much from his passionate defense of black liberation as from his highly publicized confrontations with police"(Jeffries).