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Survival Programs of the Black Panther Party

In order to achieve its goals of organizing and serving Black and oppressed communities, the Black Panther Party has developed a wide variety of Survival Programs since the Party's founding in October, 1966. The programs, which cover such diverse areas as health care and food services as well as a model school the Intercommunal Youth Institute, are meant to meet the needs of the community until we all can move to change social conditions that make it impossible for the people to afford the things they need and desire.

The Survival Programs provide another important service—they serve as a model for all oppressed people who wish to begin to take concrete actions to deal ,  with their oppression.

In the succeeding pages, the Survival Programs are explained in detail,
including information on the service provided by each program; the minimum
equipment and facilities and minimum number of personnel required to run the
program; how funds are raised for the maintenance of the program; how the ,
community is organized to become involved; and how the community's
consciousness is raised by each program.    ;

Before the Survival Programs are presented, however, it is appropriate to present Huey P. Newton's eloquent description of the programs, taken from TO DIE FOR ThE PEOPLE, Brother Huey's first book of essays. "

...We recognized that in order to bring the people to the level of consciousness where they would seize the time, it would be necessary to serve their interests in survival by developing programs which would help them to meet their daily needs. For a long time we have had such programs not only for survival but for organizational purposes. Now we not only have a breakfast program for schoolchildren, we have clothing programs, we have health clinics which provide free medical and dental services, we have programs for prisoners and their families, and we are opening clothing and shoe factories to provide for more of the needs of the community. Most recently we have begun a testing and research program on sickle-cell anemia, and we know that 98 percent of the victims of this disease are Black. To fail to combat this disease is to submit to genocide; to battle it is survival.

"All these programs satisfy the deep needs of the community but they are not solutions to our problems. That is why we call them survival programs, meaning survival pending revolution. We say that the survival program of the Black Panther Party is like the survival kit of a sailor stranded on a raft. It helps him to sustain himself until he can get completely out of that situation. So the survival programs are not answers or solutions, but they will help us to organize the community around a true analysis and understanding of their situation. When consciousness and understanding is raised to a high level then the community will seize the time and deliver themselves from the boot of their oppressors. "All of our survival programsare free. We have never charged the community a dime to receive the things they need from any of our programs and we will not do so. We will not get caught up in a lot of embarrassing questions or paperwork which alienate the people. If they have a need we will serve their needs and attempt to get them to understand the true reasons why they are in need in such an incredibly rich land. Survival programs will always be operated without charge to those who need them and benefit by them...''