The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History


“Fred Hampton was the 21-year-old chief of staff and national spokesperson for the Black Panther Party when, on the morning of Dec. 4, 1969, Chicago police broke into his apartment and murdered him. Hampton was considered a charismatic danger by the Chicago PD and the FBI, a successful organizer whose leadership of the militant group constituted a threat to society. He had to go. For author David Walker, Fred Hampton’s murder 50 years ago was not ancient history, but a totally relevant story he had to write about. ‘Fred Hampton was a story I wanted to tell so badly, but to tell that story without contextualizing it would be a mistake,’ says Walker, who, along with illustrator Marcus Anderson, is the creative force behind The Black Panther Party, a beautifully conceived and sobering graphic novel tracing the history of this doomed, but influential, group. … The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale (‘For Self-Defense’ was dropped from the name two years later). Inspired by the Black Power movement and the racism and brutality of the local police department, the group became famous for its militancy, sartorial style (black berets and leather jackets), weaponry, and a 10-point program that called for everything from decent housing and full employment to an end to police brutality and the release of all Black men from jail. The Panthers also became known for their numerous ‘survival programs,’ which included free breakfast for kids, health clinics, schooling, and a sickle cell testing program. At one point the Panthers had more than 60 chapters nationwide, and influenced similar groups geared towards Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Native Americans, as well as organizations in countries including Great Britain, Australia, and India. … Not surprisingly, an organization of militant young Blacks soon caught the attention of the police and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, whose COINTELPRO program set out to destroy the Panthers and other civil rights groups through a series of covert and illegal acts. That, plus the destructive behavior of some of the Panthers (Newton became a drug abuser) and personality dynamics causing friction involving some of the group’s leaders, led to the Party’s ultimate destruction—by 1977, it was a shell of its former self. But the legend of the Panthers as take-no-prisoners activists standing up for the Black community has remained, which is one reason why both Anderson and Walker were excited about the Panther project. …”
Graphic Novel Shows How the Black Panthers Foreshadowed the BLM Era
A New Graphic Novel Shows the History of the Black Panther Party
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This entry was posted in Angela Davis, Black Power, Bobby Seale, Books, Chicano, CIA, Cuban Revolution, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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