"...We had seen Watts rise up the previous year. We had seen how the police attacked the Watts community after causing the trouble in the first place. We . had seen Martin Luther King come to Watts in an effort to calm the people, and we had seen his philosophy of nonviolence rejected. Black people.had been taught nonviolence; it was deep in us. What good, however, was nonviolence when the police were determined to rule by force? We had seen the Oakland police and the California Highway Patrol begin to carry their shotguns in full view as another way of striking feat into the community. We had seen all this, and we recognized that the rising consciousness of Black people was almost at the point of explosion. One must relate to the history of one's community and to its future. Everything we had seen convinced us that our time had come... "
—Huey P. Newton, "The Founding of the Black Panther Party, ''taken from his autobiography, REVOLUTIONARY SUICIDE.
Emerging from the tumultuous first half decade of the 1960s, the founding of the Black Panther Party by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in October, 1966, marked the beginning of a new era for a tired, troubled and confused America. One phrase, simultaneously both a flat statementof resistance to impoverished conditions of life and a strirring cry to action to change those conditions, best characterizes and sums up this new epoch. It was a phrase initiated by the Black Panther Party in their early days in Oakland, Calif., which spread like wild fire across this land-^north, east, south and west —calling forth the emergence of hitherto unknown numbers of Black, poor and dispossessed people into conscious political activity, in their own name and in their own interests. Five simple words seized America's soul in an attempt to make it whole: "ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!"
From its founding, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (the term "for Self-Defense" was later dropped) has been assailed and villified in the mass media, its leaders hounded and harassed by local and federal law enforcement agencies and its membership and supporters threatened and intimidated at every turn. Through it all, the Black Panther Party has survived.
The reasons for this phenomenal resiliency in the face di tremendous obstacles and odds lies, in the final analysis, with the people — the communities served by the Black Panther Party programs and who, in turn, sustain the Black Panther Party through their heartfelt contributions of time and energy, devotion and love. In short, People's Power; that boundless and bold enthusiasm carefully and cautiously granted to those who serve the people's interest.
Contrary to misleading stories and scandalous Misrepresentations, the Black Panther Party did not originate as simply an armed and violent response to police brutality and murder. The Black Panther Party is not, and never has been, a group of angry young Black "militants,"' full of hatred and fury toward the "White Establishment."
Rather, from the outset, In 1966, when Huey P. Newton and other early Party members began their historic patrols of the Oakland Police Department armed with law books to explain to the community their basic Constitutional rights, the Black Panther Party has attempted to provide an example to the community of what is possible and to raise the people's political consciousness so that we, can all step forward with dignity and courage.
Let us turn then, to the programs and achievements of the Black Panther Party and try to assess them for what they really are. Free Breakfast for Schoolchildren, the most well-known Black Panther Party program, is actually only one of close to two dozen ongoing community-based activities and programs that the Black Panther Party sponsors. We have'also included in this volume poetry, songs and artwork which together make up the basis for a new, progressive People's Culture; one which roots itself on the notions of friendship and cooperation between all people. Lastly, in a section of book excerpts, we present the theoretical analysis which underlies the Black Panther Party and its programs.
Although this does not present the "whole story," we, the editors of the Fall CoEvolution Quarterly, feel confident knowing that task is not ours. The final chapter, yet unwritten, belongs to the people, all humankind, a; they forge through their own efforts and lives a world free of the troubles which plague us today. All we can do is record their magnificent achievements.