The Black Panther Party For Self Defence

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The Black Panther Party for Self Defence (BPP) was a group of revolutionary black nationalists campaigning within one of the most provocative and dynamic political periods. The legacy of the BPP is controversial, often being characterised as the most influential black movement organisation of the late 1960s and the ‘strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American Imperialism.’ However, contrasting views exist with some other commentators depicting the Party as criminal rather than political stating ‘images of defiant posturing over substance.’ Through the examination of the histories of the BPP considering their purpose, historical technique, type of history and the overall impact on the image of the party, three different movements in the representation of this period occur. The first works, including those accounts of Newton and Seale themselves, who were the co-founders of the party produced recounts focused on the individual experiences of the BPP and generally portrayed a positive view of the party, praising their actions and contributing to the characterisation of the party as a vanguard of late 1960s radicalism and as an organisation hounded by the Oakland Police (OP) and FBI. The second wave of accounts including the 1994 publication of Hugh Pearson’s history of the BPP emerged within the same period, in which a more negative interpretation of the Party’s decline was indicated and the faults of the party leader,

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