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Cover Story: Black History Month - HUEY P. NEWTON: What Might He Be Doing Today in this Intensifying Struggle? - Keeping it Real By Larry Pinkney, Editorial Board


“We recognize then that the greed of bureaucratic capitalism in America, the effectiveness of the police force of the ruling circle, and the swiftness with which their ‘message’ can be sent to these territories has transformed the previous situation. We recognize this when we admit that the United States is no longer a nation but an empire.”

-Huey P. Newton From the book "To Die for the People", by Huey P. Newton (copyright 1972)

This column today is humbly dedicated to the late (Dr.) Huey P. Newton (whose birthday is on February 17th), and to the legacy of all of the true sisters and brothers of the Black Panther Party, many of whom gave their very lives, or are still imprisoned or in exile, as a direct result of ‘America’s’ ongoing hypocrisy, avariciousness, and subterfuge. May especially the young be imbued with the necessary political defiance, fortitude, and fervor, coupled with a love for the everyday people, in this protracted struggle, remembering the immortal words of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, who said: “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love.”

It is February, 2010, and the U.S. corporate / military’s COINTELPRO-type [i.e. Counter Intelligence Program] created “messiah”--- the articulate conjurer, now sits in the White House, presiding over the de facto police state apparatus of the ‘American’ empire both at home and abroad. Escalated and bloody U.S. wars of conquest and occupation rage in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Haiti, and elsewhere; while at home joblessness, homelessness, subterfuge, police-state government spying and intimidation, and enormous prison incarceration rates are at an all time high. The corporate media continues in its insidious role of shamelessly censoring and distorting reality and truth. It’s much like the conditions that existed when the Black Panther Party was founded in October of 1966, only much, much worse for the vast majority of Black, Brown, Red, White, and Yellow people throughout this nation and world. The Black communities nationwide have, in large measure, been crippled by the chillingly effective and massive U.S. government infusion of drugs that have led to the entrapment and untimely demise of so many.    

The Black Panther Party, which ultimately was physically decimated under the auspices of the infamous U.S. government COINTEPRO activities to “discredit, neutralize, frame, imprison, and murder” political activists, nonetheless laid the foundation for resistance and real people power. Under the guidance of its Minister of Defense, chief theoretician, and cofounder Huey P. Newton, the Black Panther Party instituted a series of national programs in service to the people. These programs included, Free Breakfast Programs, Free Clothing Programs, Free Medical Programs, Free Shoe Programs, and Free Food Programs to name but a few. Moreover, the Black Panther Party [BPP] spawned an amazing amount of dedicated, dynamic, and bold BPP activist / organizers which included, Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter, John Huggins, Ericka Huggins, Kathleen Cleaver, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Hutton, Bobby Seale, Afeni Shakur, George Jackson, Assata Shakur, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Welton Armstead, Eddie Conway, Emory Douglas, Billy X Jennings, Robert Hillary King, Elmer “Geronimo” ji-Jaga [Pratt], Richard Aoki, Kiilu Nyasha, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Tarika Lewis, to name but a few. This of course, intensified the ire of the U.S. authorities against the Black Panther Party for daring to serve the every day needs of ordinary Black and poor people, in the face of horrible and constant government repression, subterfuge, wrongful imprisonment, and corporate media disinformation about and against the BPP. Every conceivable vile form of intimidation, and tactics to “discredit and neutralize” were viciously and systematically used against the Black Panther Party, its national leadership (including Huey P. Newton), and its rank and file membership.

The U.S. government, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] made it crystal clear that no political so-called “messiah[s]” would be tolerated unless they were themselves created” by the government [and its corporate / military allies].

In its beginning stages, when the Black Panther Party was founded, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale created a simply-worded and yet profoundly insightful, descriptive, and powerful document which came to be known as The Ten-Point Program of the Black Panther Party. The Ten-Point Program consisted of clearly stated and understandable goals and objectives [i.e. points] of the BPP consisting respectively of “what we want” and “what we believe.” It was essentially the political platform of the Black Panther Party. This document specifically addressed the pressing concerns facing Black and poor people, including employment, housing, police brutality, education, judicial injustice, incarceration, and the U.S. military machine. It is as relevant today, if not even more so, as it was at its inception those years ago in1966.

Indeed, the watch word of those of us who were in the Black Panther Party was “to serve the people body and soul.” If Huey P. Newton, cofounder of the Black Panther Party, was still strong, unfettered, conscious, and with us today in the year2010, what would he be doing? How would he be addressing the very pressing concerns of unemployment, police brutality, massive incarceration, homelessness, and perpetual wars abroad? What would brother Huey do?

In the absence of a much-needed politically conscious, mass organization today it is possible to assume that Huey and other like-minded and serious political activists might engage in the following three, fundamental and consistent political activities: 1) Politically educating Black and other oppressed people---in the truest sense of the term---as to precisely how we are being oppressed and manipulated, and by whom [reference point 5 of the above mentioned Ten-Point Program re an “education…that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society…and teaches us our true history” and “role in the present-day society”]. Seizing every opportunity to radically [i.e. at and from its roots] politicize the people;  2) Working and politically organizing on the local level/s for small but enormously important people’s political victories, with a view towards blatantly linking these small, enormously important victories, together with other such struggles on a national level, and being consistent about it. 3) Consciously and actively, through word and deed, reaching out to build a mass people’s organization and movement in this nation linking many pressing concerns together in such a manner that everyday people automatically grasp and contribute to this radical political building process. This means communicating with one another in the clear, precise, down-to-earth language of everyday people, not in the pretentious, convoluted terms of intellectual masturbators.

The government and its corporate media disinformation machine thrive on influencing  people to think that we are ultimately powerless. The fact is however, we are ultimately powerful—collectively-- not powerless. This is why the Black Panther Party exhorted people with the rallying cry of ‘All Power to the People,’ not all people in submission to the power.

We must actively and consistently communicate, politically educate, and share their / our small victories with each other, remembering that it is in fact those small victories that bring into fruition the larger ones, not the other way around. What if people uncompromisingly and locally banned together to stop the home foreclosure against a neighbor? What if people uncompromisingly and locally rallied around a medically ailing neighbor who had no medical insurance and was being emaciated by the vampiric insurance and /or pharmaceutical industry? What if people locally stood together against the building of a nuclear power plant? What if people on a local level uncompromisingly insisted that their local politicians speak out and take real action against community funds being channeled to U.S. wars abroad and not to schools, libraries, roads, etc.? What if people came together and insisted that a corporation in their local neighborhood, town, or city bring decent employment back and stop outsourcing them, along with their corporate headquarters, to other lands where the people are being cynically and viciously exploited by performing cheap labor until they too are discarded? Frankly, these kinds of local actions (and other similar ones) are in fact taking place, but we are not communicating with and to each other about them. Thus, there is the over riding sense of powerless, which plays right into the scurvy hands of the government and mega corporations, including the corporate media. But it does not have to be this way.

Never, in the history of humankind, have so many died for so few. Time to take back our political narrative---that of everyday people---and act accordingly.

The example of Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party collectively can and must be emulated and improved upon today, right now in the year 2010! We must free our minds and take consistent and unequivocal political actions for the well being of everyday Black and oppressed peoples collectively in this nation and around the world. We’ve nothing to lose but our chains!

Happy birthday brother Huey! We remember you by remembering the best in ourselves. All Power to the People!!!

Onward sisters and brothers. Onward! Editorial Board 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. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/LehrerNewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book). Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.


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Issue 363
February 18, 2010

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