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Serious revolutionary political struggle is
an ongoing, long and protracted affair - spanning many
years - and it does not lend itself to romanticism. By the
same token, it is extremely important to understand the role
of various women and men freedom fighters who were trail blazers
in this continuing struggle for justice, equality,
and human rights in the United States and throughout the world. It is
our consciously and clearly understood past that serves
to gird us for the present and future struggles.
The corporate media endeavors, on virtually
every level, to keep the masses of people dangerously ignorant
of the reality of what is actually occurring contemporarily,
as well as what transpired in the distant and not-so-distant
past. Corporate media obfuscation and disinformation
is the order of the day. In the not-so-distant past, the Black
Panther Party represented stalwart resistance to such obfuscation
and disinformation, and today its very legacy continues
to stand as a beacon of unequivocal opposition to corporate
media manipulation and misinformation.
In the year 2006, I wrote and still maintain
that: “Perhaps no single political organization in modern
U.S. history still evokes more joy, pride, hope, and debate
in the hearts and minds of people than the Black Panther Party,
a revolutionary, community based, national Black political
organization founded in October of 1966, which by the end
of the 20th Century had been physically decimated nationwide.”
Of its various leading party activists, arguably the best
known was its co-founder and chief theoretician, Huey P. Newton.
political heart and soul of the Black Panther Party was its
Ten-Point Program or platform [i.e. "What We Want and
What We Believe"]. Moreover, the Black Panther Party
directly served Black communities throughout the nation by
establishing many programs including the Free Breakfast Program
for Children, Free Clothing Program, Free Food Programs, Peoples
Free Medical Research Health Clinic and Free Housing Cooperative
Program, etc. There was nothing romantic about these programs
that represented daily hard work by the Black Panther
Party, in service to Black communities nationwide.
Ironically, the corporate media of that period
was intensely attempting to discredit and “neutralize” every
Black person (from Malcolm X, to Martin Luther King, Jr.,
to Huey P. Newton) who dared stand up for justice at home
and abroad. In the 21st Century, the corporate media continues
to be busily about the business of attempting to create,
manufacture, and determinewho the leaders of Black,
Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples will be. Conscious
people, today as in the past, must reject this insidious form
of manipulation, understanding that the corporate media never
supports a person who stands for justice, equality, and human
rights at home and abroad.
This is the month of February in the year 2008,
and though February is known as "Black History Month,"
the reality is that everymonth is Black
History Month. In fact, every single month of the year of
survival by the masses of people (especially Black, Red,
and Brown people) who are battling for our very lives against
blood-sucking corporations, police brutality, and U.S. military adventurism,
is a People’s History Month - that is - Black, Brown, Red,
Yellow, and White peoples.
The late Dr. Huey P. Newton correctly wrote
that, “There can be no real freedom until the imperialist
- world-enemy-number-one - has been stripped of his power
and put in his rightful place as one of the people rather
than the ruler of the people. Then and only then will
unity and harmony truly prevail.” How much more so is this
accurate today in the 21st Century. In this context,
brother Huey P. Newton further poignantly observed that, “We
recognize this when we admit that the United States is no longer a nation but an
History must be studied and understood in the
context not only of the past but just as importantly, the
present and future. This present sham of American Democracy
and media circus must be understood in this reality. To paraphrase
the words of the French philosopher, Albert Camus, “What good
does it do a man [or woman] to give him [or her] the vote
and then tell him [or her] that he [or she] is free?”
And as brother Huey put it, “Democracy means only that the
majority will use us when they need us and cast us aside when
they do not need us.” [See pages 39, 40, and 58, first edition
of the book, To
Die for the People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton.
reiterate: History must be studied and understood in the context
of not only the past but just as importantly, the present
and future. Some remember only the photographed image of Huey
P. Newton, majestically sitting in a wicker chair in the black
beret and leather jacket of the Black Panther Party - rifle
in one hand and spear in the other. I remember Huey P. Newton
as a comrade: a thinker and doer who did not hesitate
to lay his life on the line for the people and in so doing
incurred the ire of a racist, capitalist system determined
to destroy him. A comrade with whom I sometimes disagreed
but for whom I had and have an unquenchable love and respect.
To be sure, he was no saint nor was he striving for sainthood.
He was, however, like Brother Malcolm X before him, one of
“our shining Black prince[s].” Notwithstanding his own human
imperfections, Huey embodied the defiant and articulate Black
man who in word and deed stood tall on behalf of Black people.
Like the Black Panther Party itself, Huey P.
Newton was both a target and victim of the infamous (and no
doubt ongoing) COINTELPRO U.S.
government activities to “discredit, frame, murder, imprison,
and murder” Black political activists. Though tragically murdered
in August of 1989, allegedlyduring a
drug deal gone bad, Huey P. Newton conveniently (for
the U.S. Government and corporate media), did not
live to dispute or present evidence of the events of
that fateful day in August. However, one thing is certain:
The U.S. corporate media, including the Associated Press,
gleefully reported brother Huey’s death in an article dated
August 23, 1989, titled, Black Panthers Created Image of
"Defiance and Resistance." The Associated Press
article ended by saying, “Today, the Panthers prowl no more.”
The corporate media is wrong. The intrepid legacy of
the Black Panther Party - of "defiance and resistance"
- still “prowls” as long as there is injustice, inequality,
militarism, and corporate greed.
Genuine and serious political activists do
not function based upon popularity or political expediency.
As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so aptly put it:
“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?Expediency
asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question
– is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it
right? And there comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one
must take it because it is right.”
So many sisters and brothers, from Harriet
Tubman, to Fannie Lou Hamer, to Malcolm X, to Robert F. Williams,
to Huey P. Newton have chosen the path of what is right over
that of what is expedient. From the Deacons for Self Defense,
to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to the Students
for A Democratic Society, to the American Indian Movement,
to La Raza Unida and the Brown Berets, to the Republic of
New Africa, to the Black Panther Party, the legacy of the
people’s struggle lives on in both word and deed to the consternation
of the 21st Century corporate media.
So many have died that we might struggle to
live in a real versus illusionary freedom. This
struggle continues and on this February 17th, the birthday
of brother Huey - if the fates are kind - I shall raise a
toast to brother Huey P. Newton and all my comrade
sisters and brothers of the Black Panther Party and to the
peoples' liberation movements nationally and around the world.
Yes, the struggle continues unabated, and as
the late, great Curtis Mayfield lyrically put it, “Let us
teach the children freedom’s never been free…”
All Power To The People!
member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party,
the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa,
a former political prisoner and the only American to have
successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case
to the United Nations under the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. For more about Larry Pinkney see
the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist
by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book)
Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.