By Teodrose Fikre
History sure has a way of being co-opted by the elites and bastardized in order to water down the power of a movement. This is how the status quo works, first they kill of the visionary leaders, then empower the sellouts to white wash the truth and then finally they own the message by selling lies as truth. This is precisely what happened to the black panther party after COINTEL systematically and inhumanly assassinated one leader of note after another and then propped up the ego maniacs and the Judases in order to destroy the BPP from within.
What they depict now about the Black Panther Party is a bunch of militant “black” revolutionary who were only about the guns. True enough the Black Panther Party advocated self-defense, but what made them powerful and a threat to the system that required round the clock surveillance and harassment was never the threat of the gun. The US government chuckles at those who think they have a chance to go at the most powerful military in the world by way of bullets. If guns was the end all and be all of the Black Panther Party, we would never have heard of revolutionaries like Hampton, Hutton and Davis.
What made the Black Panther Party a clear and present danger to the system was the party’s message of self-reliance and empowering the community from within. This was a platform that diverged drastically from the rush to integrate as some of the most renowned “civil rights leaders” were advocating at the time. The BPP did not go as far as advocating a complete separation of the races nor did they urge “black” folks to go back to the continent of humanity’s birth. Their message was to build up a community by the very people who lived in it and they urged “black” folk to store up wealth and empower themselves from within.
Self-defense took a back seat to self-reliance for it was the latter part that the Black Panther Party advocated the most. The BPP started soup kitchens in cities like Oakland, Philadelphia and Harlem and beyond and their very first action was to feed the people they hoped to lead out of the wilderness. The BPP also provided free health clinics, schooling and clothing for those who needed it. They did not rely on corporate contributions or handouts from the government, they depended on the community to build the community from within.
In a country that is based on corporate and government dependence, the Black Panther Party was offering a viable alternative to the supposed charity that the elites give to the struggling masses. When the US government saw the the Black Panther Party was becoming wildly successful as chapters were popping up across America, the Feds were called in to squash the BPP and keep the rank and file without viable leaders. Leaders like Fred Hampton and Bobby Hutton were killed off, Angela Davis was sent into exile yet Bobby Rush is in congress, thriving in America. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out the heroes from those who gave their hands to federated tyrants.
The revision has come full cycle as the Black Panther Party has been turned into a caricature by uninformed entertainers like Beyonce and Jay-Z who sell revolutions as a means to make an extra marginal dollar while selling the people down the river. Formation did not give a nod at all to the most powerful aspect of the Black Panther Party, the whole movement has been distilled to a black fist and a gun and nothing else.
The most powerful aspect of the Black Panther Party was not a gun at all, it was a spoon. Feed the people and the people will free themselves. We have enough resources within our community to lift ourselves up, all we need is a few to set an example for the masses. The talented tenth, as Du Bois noted, need to rise up and return to the roots in order to nourish the forest that is slowly being choked by hopelessness. Protests are meaningless if we don’t first empower ourselves from within. Perhaps it is time to return to the blueprint the BPP laid out instead of being led by black leaders who only want to feed themselves.
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” ~ Malcolm X