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Survival Pending Revolution

The History of the Black Panther Party

Written by Paul Alkebulan

Publication Year: 2007

The Black Panther Party (BPP) seized the attention of America in the frenetic days of the late 1960s when a series of assassinations, discontent with the Vietnam War, and impatience with lingering racial discrimination roiled the United States, particularly its cities. The BPP inspired dread among the American body politic while receiving support from many urban black youths. The images of angry and armed young black radicals in the streets of U.S. cities seemed a stunning reversal and repudiation of the accommodationist and assimilationist black goals associated with Martin Luther King’s movement, as well as an unprecedented defiance of the civil power.
Although many have written about the BPP in memoirs and polemics, Survival Pending Revolution contributes to a new generation of objective, analytical BPP studies that are sorely needed. Alkebulan displays the entire movement’s history: its lofty and even idealistic goals and its in-your-face rhetoric, its strategies, tactics, and the internal divisions and ego clashes, drawing upon public records as well as the memories of both leaders and foot soldiers, to attempt a description that both understands the inner workings of the BPP and its role in the greater society.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party (BPP) in October 1966 at the beginning of the Black Power movement. The Panther Party existed for sixteen years as one of the most controversial political organizations in American history. The BPP’s career was marked by heated revolutionary rhetoric, social service programs, international diplomacy, clashes with the police, and internal conflicts. ...

List of Abbreviations

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p. xvii

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pp. 1-7

The post–World War II American civil rights movement united disparate political and economic groups in a struggle for democratic rights and social change. Individuals and organizations, black and white, formed a united front to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson and end the legal disfranchisement and physical terror endured by millions of African American citizens. ...

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1. The Heirs of Malcolm

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pp. 8-26

Malcolm X was the ideological patron saint of the Black Panther Party. It was Malcolm who articulated the party members’ doubts about the political affiliations and integrationist orthodoxy of the civil rights establishment. It was Malcolm who provided them with new definitions for politics, race, and self-esteem that were capable of transforming ordinary people into committed activists. ...

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2. Survival Pending Revolution

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pp. 27-45

The Black Panther Party occupied a precarious position from its inception. Patrolling the police and marching on Sacramento were bold initiatives. These actions attracted recruits to the organization and drew attention to the ten-point program and platform. These steps, however, severely circumscribed the party’s future ideological and pragmatic choices because the government considered the BPP an armed threat to its authority. ...

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3. Regional Development of the Black Panther Party

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pp. 46-76

From 1966 to 1971 the BPP grew from a small Oakland-based group to an international organization that operated at one time or another in sixty-one American cities and had more than two thousand members.1 The Panther Party’s rapid growth was fueled by its militant reputation, which attracted large numbers of adventurous and politically curious youth. ...

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4. Enemies of the People

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pp. 77-97

In 1971 the BPP’s leaders startled the rank and file with a public quarrel over ideology and tactics while the organization was struggling with the government for its very life. This extraordinary development tore the Panther Party apart. Ordinary members were called on to declare their loyalty for one side or the other. ...

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5. Women and the Black Panther Party

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pp. 98-116

From 1971 to 1980 the Black Panther Party tried to change its public persona from being revolutionaries to being a political reform organization. Women stepped to the fore at this time and led many of the survival programs. This was fortuitous for the party because the reputations of their top male leaders had been severely damaged by political killings and revelations of financial turpitude. ...

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6. Decline and Fall

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pp. 117-125

As a reform organization the Panthers argued for the black community to receive its fair share of the conventional political pie. The reform mission included an intensely fought 1973 Oakland mayoral election, increased interaction in mainstream political affairs, and a surprising involvement with the spiritual community. ...

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pp. 126-132

The Black Panther Party has a legacy of activism, courage, commitment, miscalculation, and missed opportunities. These young men and women exhibited an extraordinarily high level of personal and group dedication to their vision of social change. Week after week, headlines in the Black Panther informed readers that Panthers were being shot, beaten, bombed, arrested, and investigated throughout the country.1


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pp. 133-156

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Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 157-165

The Black Panther Black Community News Service is the most important primary source for the ideology and actions of the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther’s first issue was in April 1967, but publication was sporadic until it became a weekly in January 1968. ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 167-170


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pp. 171-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780817380298
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817315498

Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 183207843
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Survival Pending Revolution

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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
  • Revolutionaries -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Black Panther Party -- Biography.
  • Black Panther Party -- History.
  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 20th century.
  • Radicalism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
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