Black Panthers, Then and Now

May 13, 1996

Democracy Now is an election year program that follows alternative political movements, both current and past. Today, we look at the Black Panther Party on the 25th anniversary of the acquittal of the New York Panther 21. In 1996, at a time when the federal government has far reaching powers to infiltrate political groups, its important to look back at the Black Panthers, a radical black organization of the 1960s and 70s that was, in part, destroyed by the FBI and local police department.

The Panthers had a 10-point program that addressed the deprivation and oppression of the black community and called for the self-empowerment of African Americans. Their mission and their means were considered a threat to the power structure at the time. 25 years later, many Black Panthers are dead, killed at the hands of police or other panthers. Some are living in exile in Cuba. Some are in prison, serving long sentences for either political or criminal activities. But Many former Black Panthers are still community organizers or professors in black studies departments, and some are even in Congress... Later in today’s show, we’ll talk with two members of the New York Panther 21, but first, we’ll hear from Panther leaders Elaine Brown and Bobby Seale as we look back at what the Panthers were about. In this historical recording, Black Panther leader ELAINE BROWN reflects on the killing of Fred Hampton by police in 1969 and indicates a new direction for radical black politics.