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Billy's Paper

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During the 1960s, many Black Americans drew attention to the inequalities among races in society. Protest groups formed and demonstrations highlighting discrimination towards dark people were a common practice for civil rights activists. Some activists believed non-violence was the only way to overcome, and others, such as Anne Moody and the Black Panthers, had a more aggressive attitude towards gaining freedom. In her autobiography, The Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody describes the hardships of growing up in the heavily racist South, and displays the "price you pay daily for being Black." (p.361) She grows tired of seeing her Black companions beaten, raped, murdered, and denied their opportunity to prosper in the land of plenty: America. The Black Panthers' assertive mindset was aimed to exemplify the injustices of a prejudiced society that denied Blacks the power to determine their own destiny. At a young age, Anne realizes that there is something that gives Whites privilege over Blacks. She thinks that there is a secret to why Blacks always have to watch a movie from the balcony while Whites watch from the floor. Both Anne Moody and the Black Panthers discover this secret, and use an assertive approach in their civil rights activism for social and political reform that would finally give Blacks the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that are granted to all Americans. The secret was racial discrimination.

The Black Panther Party, which was co-founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966, was a political party that pushed to overcome social oppression. After the assassination of Black activist Malcolm

X, the Panthers decided they had enough of seeing their race be denied the freedom they deserved. Members of the Black Panthers were tired of a society that continued to consider them "niggers." They were tired of not having the chance to get out of poverty and live comfortably. They were tired of not getting a quality education that public schools in America should've been providing them. They were tired of being beaten, harassed, and unruly discriminated against by police solely because of the color of their skin. They wanted to live in the beautiful nation that America appeared to be for Whites. They wanted freedom and equality for African-Americans.

The Black Panthers pushed for social revolution in which the government would finally ensure their protection and pursuit of happiness. In general, they felt that African-Americans had been treated as second-class citizens since the end of the Civil War solely because they were Black. The Panthers developed a platform called the "Ten Point Program" that described the changes they demanded to see in American society. They wanted a country in which Black children are provided the same educational opportunities as White children, and thought that Blacks could only progress by being taught the true history of Black oppression in the U.S. They demanded that Black Americans have jobs that paid the same wages as Whites and weren't limited to labor intensive positions. The party also felt that the police force instigated more conflict and violence than protection, and believed they needed to provide security for Blacks by themselves. Although they were known for using gun power when necessary, the Panthers envisioned a peaceful society under a just government where all races could live together. Simply put, the Black Panthers felt the United States government was not allowing Black Americans to the live in the land of equal opportunity, but rather denying them the freedoms and liberties constitutionally entitled to them. The Black Panthers wanted African-Americans to be able to determine their destiny.

Because the Black Panthers felt society and government were withholding African-Americans from social progress, they took some matters into their own hands. They promoted more just police enforcement, a student's ability to learn in the classroom, and more chances to be serviced for health concerns. The Panthers believed that the police were not abiding by constitutional liberties and rights when dealing with African-Americans. They thought Blacks were being held in poverty, which in turn contributed to poor educational opportunities and health benefits. The Panthers targeted urban youth activists to fuel their social revolution, and often produced Black progress in these areas.

Of the ten demands the Panthers published, an end to unnecessary police brutality and murder of Blacks was heavily emphasized. After seeing their Black friends and family assaulted too many times, the Panthers felt protecting Blacks from the police force was the only way to ensure their safety. The Panthers are notoriously known for using gun power and instituting Malcolm

X's motto of "By any means necessary" to empower African-Americans. Huey P. Newton, who was very knowledgible of his right to bear arms because he studied law at Oakland City College, encouraged party members to carry guns with them at all times. The Panthers never instigated violence with police, but monitored them with arms ready to defend Blacks if police were inappropriately interrogating them. The party also contributed to anti-war protests and demanded that all citizens, not just Whites, have fair and impartial trials. This aggressive attitude concerning Black safety, along with heavy ridicule from F.B.I. head J. Edgar Hoover, has undoubtledly contributed to the insistent reputation the Panthers had in gaining equality.

Besides encouraging schools to expose the truths of African-American history, the Black Panthers promoted progress through education by providing free breakfast to needy Black students. The party formed kitchens in Black Panther chapters throughout the nation, and fed over 10,000 needy students before school every morning. The meals provided essential nutrients that could fuel students' mental advancement in preparation to contribute to the social revolution of the party. The Panthers felt that the developing youth of America was the key to the civil rights movement, and believed that young Blacks' education was vital to "surviving the evil government and building a new one fit for the service of all the people." (Marxist/blackpanther website)

Also in an attempt to increase African-Americans' possibility to contribute to the social reform movement, the Black Panthers set up free health services for poor Blacks in several chapters throughout the country. The Panthers thought that Black families in America were unruly contrained to low standards of living and couldn't afford health care. The party therefore established free clinics and encouraged blood tests to diagnose sickle cell anemia patients and begin treatment.



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