The sixties were one of the most turbulent eras is the history of the United States of America. America had been prosperous; however, discontent was growing amongst those sections of the society which felt that they had not been given their share of the pie…
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With the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, there was a vacuum as far as the leadership of the underprivileged blacks was concerned. This was filled with the arrival of the Black Panther Party on the scene. The establishment of the political party was done by Huey P Newton and Bobby G. Seale, in Oakland (Jeffries x, 2002). While the party may not have lasted too long and may not seem to have done much, the truth is that in certain pockets of the nation, it did improve the living conditions of the African American community. They helped in improving the self-esteem of the members of this community in a place like Oakland. In a place like Oakland, the energies of the African American male youth were dissipated and untapped. One of the most important achievements of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton was to attempt to harness these energies into one single channel- the betterment of the race and to stand up to racist behavior from people in seats of authority. Newton speaks of his own experiences of having been a criminal in his essay “scoring”. The path of crime is not, according to Newton, one that every black man needs to take but the structural forces in American society often did force African American youths to take up this path. He argues that white communities in America committed burglary at a larger level, by taking what was rightfully the property of the African American community. He argues that the proclivity that street youth display for drugs and crime is related primarily to their inability to validate themselves. He cites his reading of existential philosophy as one of the reasons as to why he is able to decode the reasons as to why the black youth behaved the way they did in society (28-32, 2002). Another important contribution of the Black Panther Party to Oakland was the fact that they had organized the youth of this place into a force. Bobby Seale speaks of the poverty alleviation programs that were put in place in Oakland during the heyday of the Black Panthers Party in his book, Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton. He argues that these programs were beneficial to the community because they created awareness in the community regarding the opportunities that they could seize rather than wait for. The objective of the program would be, according to Seale, the eradication of poverty. One of the main ways in which Seale and Newton sought to do this in the Oakland area was to create awareness about Black history. He says, My objective in the program was to teach Black American History if I could, and teach them also some degree of responsibility; not teach them responsibility in old Establishment terms, but in terms of their own people living in the community (35). The Panthers’ solution to the problem of poverty among the Black community of Oakland was to trace the history of the African American community and enable them to understand the structural reasons for their poverty. They were made to also understand that problems of drinking and cards were eroding the values of their society without leading to prosperity. The main problem that haunted the blacks was, according to the Panthers, American capitalism which led to the upliftment of a few blacks while leaving the rests in doldrums (MIA: History: USA: The Black Panther P
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